By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The suspected bicycling bank robber pleaded not guilty today in connection with a seemingly quiet holdup in Chehalis, that took a stocking-capped man dressed in numerous layers of clothing inside a bank vault with two employees.
Larry Gene Bailey is charged in Lewis County Superior Court with first-degree robbery and possession of methamphetamine.
Exactly how much the robber nearly got away with is unclear. Charging documents say he was handed roughly $40,000 but police were waiting for Chase Bank to do an inventory. When Bailey was apprehended about 45 minutes later less than a mile from the bank, officers say they found $36,000 tucked inside a pinkish-purple floral print cloth bag in his backpack.
Police say the 52-year-old ditched a BMX-style bicycle on the West Street overpass and tried to get through two fences adjacent to Interstate 5 but was grabbed by a pursuing sheriff’s deputy.
That was on Monday. On Tuesday, authorities told a judge he was suicidal and wouldn’t willingly be brought up to a courtroom for his first appearance.
“Skip” Bailey’s bail was set yesterday at $250,000, with prosecutors noting no apparent ties to the community and his history.
Prosecutors say they believe he has four federal convictions for bank robbery, in Kansas, Eastern Washington and Western Washington.
Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said today they are still trying to confirm those. The earliest one is 1991.
According to Halstead, he also has two first-degree theft convictions from 2005, for which he was sentenced to 10 years.
Bailey’s federal probation officer has informed them he is in violation of his probation, according to court documents.
Chehalis police say Bailey only arrived to the area a few months ago. Police Department spokesperson Linda Bailey said he shows an address on the 1500 block of Bishop Road.
The address is for a church, not far from an encampment next to Interstate 5 at LaBree Road that somehow caught fire in November, destroying a tent and all the belongings of a 52-year-old homeless person named Larry G. Bailey.
Chehalis police’s Bailey, no relation, said she thinks it is the same man.
Defense attorney Joely O’Rourke who represented Bailey initially yesterday said he is not employed and has no stable residence.
First-degree robbery has a maximum penalty of life in prison. If convicted and the state can confirm the prior robbery convictions, that would classify Bailey as a persistent offender – be a third strike – making him subject to mandatory life imprisonment without parole, according to O’Rourke.
According to charging documents, when police arrived to Chase Bank following the 10:47 a.m. call, the robber was gone.
The manger told officers he implied he had a gun, reaching into his coat pocket, telling her he had two strikes and had nothing to lose, so she needed to follow his instructions. A second teller was summoned because it takes two employees to get inside the vault, according to documents.
The charging documents offer the following details:
Officers were given photos uploaded from the bank security system, to use as they searched the immediate area.
A police dog brought to the scene led them to the nearby Rite Aid store where some discarded clothing was found that fit the description provided by bank employees. Police located more clothing in an alley between Southwest Fourth and Fifth streets.
Law enforcement officers from Chehalis, Centralia and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office had set up containment and continued to search, while three nearby schools were alerted for lockdowns.
It was about 11:30 a.m. when an individual matching the suspect’s description was seen traveling on a bicycle near the West Street overpass by a helpful witness, who pointed a deputy in his direction, according to police.
Bailey had a meth pipe in his possession, leading to the drug charge, according to police.
Bailey qualified for a court appointed attorney, who sat with him in the courtroom this morning as he entered his pleas.
Chehalis lawyer Chris Baum said he doesn’t know much about the man he is representing, and what he does know is protected by professional confidentiality.
“I just got the case yesterday afternoon, and I saw him and spoke with him this morning,” Baum said. “I will sort it out after I get the police reports.”
An Associated Press news story from The Seattle Times in 1991 reports upon a 28-year-old Everett man named Larry Gene Bailey who was indicted for allegedly holding up three Spokane banks that summer, and was wanted in Kansas for another bank robbery.
He was arrested by a trooper for a traffic violation, and a large amount of cash was found stuffed in his clothing, according to the news story.
In that case, the man was riding a motorcycle.
Bailey’s trial was put on the court’s schedule for the week of March 23.
For background, read “Suspected Chase Bank robber believed to have numerous similar convictions” from Tuesday January 27, 2015 at 8:59 p.m., here