Tulsan admits robbing one bank, denies credit union heist
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Thursday, August 09, 2012
A man pleaded guilty Thursday to robbing a Tulsa bank earlier this year.
Christopher Alfred Harris, 23, of Tulsa admitted in federal court that he robbed the Bank of Oklahoma at 3037 S. Garnett Road on Jan. 27. He also pleaded guilty to a related firearm charge.
Harris admitted that he brandished a gun during the heist and left the bank with $4,215.90.
Witnesses told police they had seen a man jump over a fence just north of the bank and head into the Meadows Apartments, where residents pointed police to an apartment where Harris was known to stay, and he was arrested that same day.
A black handgun was found inside an air-conditioning vent in the apartment, and an amount of money that corresponded to the sum taken from the bank was found in a bag in a closet there, an FBI affidavit says.
Harris was indicted in connection with the BOk robbery on March 7.
On May 10, he was also charged with robbing the Red Crown Credit Union at 2738 E. 51st St. on Jan. 9, 2009.
On that date, a robber gave a note to a teller at the credit union but pulled the note back before the employee could read it. He reportedly said, “You don’t need to read it. Just give me all the money, or I’m going to shoot you.”
The robber fled on foot, and a police dog tracked him to a vacant lot behind the credit union, where police think he got into a getaway car.
The Red Crown robbery remained unsolved for more than three years despite the release of surveillance footage that provided a relatively clear view of the robber, who was wearing a black jacket, a stocking cap and reading glasses.
After Harris was arrested, the FBI and Tulsa police investigators began comparing the description of the BOk robber and the method used in that heist to unsolved robberies in the area, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.
The similarities between the two heists and a re-examination of the surveillance footage from the Red Crown robbery led to Harris’ being charged with the January 2009 heist, Shores has said.
Harris pleaded guilty Thursday only to the charges in the BOk robbery, and Federal Public Defender Julia O’Connell said her client adamantly denies committing the 2009 Red Crown heist.
U.S. Chief District Judge Gregory Frizzell will be able to consider conduct he deems relevant when he sentences Harris on Nov. 15.
O’Connell and Assistant U.S. Attorney Clinton Johnson both said federal sentencing guidelines likely will call for Harris to be imprisoned for more than 10 years.
On March 13, O’Connell filed a motion to determine Harris’ mental competence.
Harris then underwent a psychological evaluation at a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility in San Diego.
A forensic psychologist there found “no objective evidence” to indicate that Harris was unable to understand the court proceedings against him or to assist in his defense.
The defense did not contest the findings. On June 22, U.S. Magistrate Paul Cleary found Harris mentally competent.
Christopher Alfred Harris