More de­tails re­leased in Kealakekua bank rob­bery

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - PAGE TWO - By CHELSEA JENSEN Email Chelsea Jensen at cjensen@west­hawai­ito­

KAILUA-KONA — The 30-year-old man ac­cused of rob­bing the Amer­i­can Sav­ings Bank branch in Kealakekua last week re­port­edly was re­leased from a hospi­tal psy­chi­atric ward ear­lier that day.

Rus­sell Mon­lux spent time in the Kona Com­mu­nity Hospi­tal psy­chi­atric ward be­fore be­ing re­leased the morn­ing of Jan. 3, ac­cord­ing to an af­fi­davit filed with the crim­i­nal com­plaint Mon­day by the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice in Honolulu.

The af­fi­davit also states sur­veil­lance video from the hospi­tal on Dec. 30 showed Mon­lux wear­ing an iden­ti­cal T-shirt to the one worn dur­ing the rob­bery.

The hospi­tal is lo­cated about a half-mile north of the bank branch off Ma­mala­hoa High­way that Mon­lux — who has a his­tory of mental is­sues — is ac­cused of rob­bing.

Judy Dono­van, hospi­tal spokes­woman, de­clined to com­ment, cit­ing pri­vacy rules.

Mon­lux made his ini­tial ap­pear­ance Mon­day in U.S. Dis­trict Court in Honolulu on a sin­gle fed­eral charge of bank rob­bery. His at­tor­ney with the Of­fice of the Fed­eral Pub­lic De­fender mo­tioned for a com­pe­tency eval­u­a­tion. Mag­is­trate Judge Ken­neth J. Mans­field set a March court hear­ing for that mo­tion.

The U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice also moved to de­tain Mon­lux with­out bail, ar­gu­ing there was no means for rea­son­ably as­sur­ing he would ap­pear for hear­ings and “be­cause there is no con­di­tion or com­bi­na­tion of con­di­tions of re­lease which will rea­son­ably as­sure the safety of any other per­son in the com­mu­nity.”

Tom Brady, chief of the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice’s crim­i­nal di­vi­sion, said Tues­day that pro­ceed­ings in the case are sus­pended pend­ing the com­pe­tency eval­u­a­tion.

Big Is­land po­lice and fed­eral of­fi­cials al­lege Mon­lux en­tered the bank about 3 p.m. Jan. 3 and passed a note to a teller de­mand­ing cash. The af­fi­davit in support of the fed­eral charge pro­vided the first glimpse of the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the suspect and bank teller and what oc­curred there­after un­til Mon­lux’s ar­rest the next day.

“Give all the money or die ‘I got a gun’ 20 min be­for (sic) you call 911 mafia will kill your mom (ex­ple­tive) you (ex­ple­tive),” the note reads ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit by an FBI spe­cial agent.

The note also re­port­edly in­cluded Mon­lux’s sig­na­ture, which ap­peared iden­ti­cal to his signed name on his driver’s li­cense.

The teller re­sponded, “are you kid­ding?” At which point, Mon­lux al­legedly said, “I am not kid­ding, I am not play­ing” be­fore plac­ing his hands in his waist­band, ges­tur­ing as if a con­cealed hand­gun.

The teller then gave him money, which in­cluded nine bills of bait money, a means for iden­ti­fy­ing money taken us­ing pre­re­corded se­rial num­bers. No de­tails were re­leased on the amount of non­bait money taken dur­ing the in­ci­dent, how­ever, the bait money, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit, to­taled $400.

Mon­lux then al­legedly fled on foot and went to a McDon­ald’s restau­rant, lo­cated north and across the high­way from the bank. There, the af­fi­davit states, he so­licited a “wit­ness” for a ride to the Kailu­aKona Wal-Mart in ex­change for a $50 bill, which hap­pened to be one of the bait bills. He also re­port­edly left in the bath­room of the fast-food eatery a pair of green ath­letic shoes, cloth­ing and pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions.

The driver, who would later iden­tify Mon­lux in a po­lice photo lineup, dropped him off at the Wal-Mart and saw him then en­ter a taxi.

At about 5 p.m. the next day, Jan. 4, after re­ceiv­ing a tip from the pub­lic, po­lice and fed­eral agents ar­rested Mon­lux in­side the north ter­mi­nal of Kona In­ter­na­tional Air­port. A search of his carry-on bag lo­cated a wal­let con­tain­ing a wad of cash that in­cluded a $100 bill from the bait money, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit.

While be­ing in­ter­viewed by po­lice, Mon­lux said a fam­ily mem­ber from Puna gave the money to him a day be­fore the al­leged rob­bery, but he could not ex­plain why he pos­sessed the $100 bait bill.

Mon­lux also told in­ves­ti­ga­tors the sig­na­ture on the de­mand note was forged and he was be­ing framed, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit. In ad­di­tion, he said the bag found at the McDon­ald’s con­tain­ing his pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion and other items was taken when he went out­side to have a cig­a­rette while at the restau­rant.

Prior to his re­cent ar­rest, Mon­lux was ar­rested in June 2016 for al­legedly pass­ing a hand­writ­ten bomb threat to a teller at the Bank of Hawaii branch in­side the Hilo Safe­way store, after which he was charged with two counts of ter­ror­is­tic threat­en­ing. Those charges were dropped after a judge found him un­fit to pro­ceed based on an eval­u­a­tion by the state Depart­ment of Health.

LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii To­day file photo

The Amer­i­can Sav­ings Bank branch in Kealakekua.


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