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TACOMA — When Michael Fenter was arrested coming out of a Tacoma bank last fall with $73,000 in a bag and a gun at his hip, just about everyone had the same question: “Why?”
A marine carpenter who, with his wife, had realized a longtime dream to run a Port Townsend farm, Fenter had no criminal record, no drug problem and no clear motive. In letters to the court, friends and family called him “honest,” “gracious,” “wholesome” and “gentle.” They knew nothing of his secret life.
He pleaded guilty in March to robbing four banks in Seattle, Tacoma and California and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence.
Calling it “one of the most perplexing cases” he’s ever considered, U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle sentenced Fenter on Monday to 10 years in prison, and ordered him to make restitution to the banks. He walked away with $86,000 from the first three robberies, and that money has never been accounted for.