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'Straw Hat Bandit' Suspect Richard Boyle Robbed Banks in Past

by Tracy Connor /  / Updated 
An armed serial bank robber, known as the "Straw Hat Bandit," appears in surveillance video on July 2, 2016.FBI

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The FBI said it has arrested the bank robber known as the "Straw Hat Bandit," a suburban Philadelphia businessman who went to prison for a string of heists eight years ago.

Richard Boyle, 57, of Doylestown, allegedly stole $495,686 in cash during 11 stickups between 2012 and 2016, and laundered the money through his failing aerial photography business, according to court documents.

The robber earned his nickname with his distinctive disguises, which sometimes included a straw hat and mask. He was armed with a black semiautomatic handgun during the robberies, authorities said, and could face decades in federal prison if convicted.

An armed serial bank robber, known as the "Straw Hat Bandit," appears in surveillance video on July 2, 2016.FBI

Boyle was first arrested in 2008 and confessed to robbing eight banks — under less threatening circumstances, according to the lawyer who represented him then.

"It was a really wacky case," lawyer Craig Penglase told NBC News.

"It wasn't exactly a whodunit. He walked into banks with no mask, wearing floral print shirts and no mask and asked politely for the tellers to give him the money."

At the time, Penglase said, his client was in dire financial straits, jobless and on the verge of losing his home and his family.

He saw a news item about another Bucks County bandit who waltzed into banks and fled with thousands of dollars.

"And he said — it was unstable thinking — 'Gosh, I could do that,'" said Penglase, who also represented the other robber. "He didn't stop to think, "Well, that guy's serving 10 to 20.'"

The "Straw Hat Bandit" appears in surveillance video on July 3, 2015.FBI

At his 2008 sentencing, Boyle wept as he apologized to his family and the bank tellers he had terrified.

"I wish I could have made better choices," he said, according to a newspaper account.

He faced up to 160 years in prison, but the judge sentenced him to 3.5 to 10 years. He allegedly began his second wave of holdups soon after being released.

"I get the sense it escalated a whole lot," Penglase said, referring to the gun charge in the new indictment.

Penglase said he is no longer representing Boyle, who was due to appear in court Thursday. The suspect's family could not be reached for comment and it was not clear if he had retained an attorney.

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