Two men with a quarter century history of robbing banks, were sentenced today to 70 years in prison for a string of bank robberies in the Seattle area, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.
The two men, 66-year-old Jack P. Sexton and 65-year-old Ronald C. Kettells were convicted in March 2013 of conspiracy to commit bank robbery, three armed bank robberies and using a firearm during a crime of violence. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said these were some of the longest sentences he has handed down, noting the men’s criminal history is “remarkable in its length and depth.”
According to testimony at trial and records filed in the case, the two men were linked to three bank robberies in the Seattle area between August and October 2011. On August 8, 2011 the two men robbed a Key Bank branch on Holman Road in north Seattle. In that case the men used a bandana and a t-shirt to disguise their faces. They pointed a handgun at the tellers and threatened to kill them if they did not lie down on the floor.
They next robbed the Wells Fargo bank branch on Greenwood Avenue in Shoreline on September 12, 2011. The men wore masks: one of an elderly man, the other of President Richard Nixon. The men were armed with a pistol grip shotgun and a handgun.
Finally, on October 20, 2011, the men robbed a Washington Federal Bank branch in West Seattle. One wore a Hillary Clinton mask, the other the same “elderly man” mask as in the previous robbery. Again they pointed the pistol grip shotgun and handgun at the tellers and demanded money. An elderly woman who was a customer at the bank was injured when she was forced to the ground by one of the men.
Key information in the case came from an alert neighbor at one of the robberies who noted the license plate number of the get-away car. The car was ultimately linked to Sexton and the person who had sold him the vehicle knew where Sexton and Kettells were living. Both had recently been released from prison. A search of their vehicles and residence turned up bags used in the robberies as well as four firearms – including the ones used in the robberies. Investigators also found the masks used in the robbery, and DNA on the inside of the masks linked them to both men.
Both men have numerous prior convictions. Kettells has convictions dating back to 1963 for assault, burglary and bank robbery. Similarly, Sexton has convictions dating back to the 1960s for burglary, forgery, and armed bank robbery.
Writing to the court prosecutors noted these “crimes were recklessly violent and directly endangered the lives of numerous victims and responding officers. In each of the robberies (the men)… aggressively brandished a loaded firearm, shouted threats and profanities at the victims, and made various threatening actions such as banging a gun on a desk, racking a shot gun, and waving a gun in close proximity to a teller’s face with (a) finger on the trigger.”
The men were ordered to pay $29,628 in restitution.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Seattle Safe Streets Task Force, which includes investigators from the Seattle Police Department, as well as the King County Sheriff’s Office
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew Friedman and Francis Franze-Nakamura.