updated 9/11/2006 2:45:14 PM ET 2006-09-11T18:45:14

A 79-year-old South Side woman bearing a toy gun and a visor that read "Princess" has been charged with trying to rob a downtown bank.

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Melvena Cooke was charged Wednesday with attempted bank robbery. She is free on $4,500 bond and was released into her daughter's custody.

Cooke walked into the Bank of America branch Tuesday morning and told a teller that she'd just come from the dentist and could only speak quietly, according to an FBI affidavit.

As the teller leaned in, Cooke whispered a demand for $30,000 and brandished a gun that turned out to be a toy, the affidavit says. Instead of handing over any money, however, the teller triggered a silent alarm and walked away.

Cooke left empty-handed after several minutes and then ducked into a nearby store, where she was arrested.

Officials said Cooke was dressed for the attempted heist in a black trench coat, sunglasses and a white "Princess" visor.

She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

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