A Moro man pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to charges related to a Dec. 13, 2014, staged bank robbery at the Liberty Bank branch in Bethalto.
In a press release, U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton said Eugene Babcock, 58, faces a term of imprisonment of not more than 10 years, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of not more than three years when he is sentenced Sept. 15.
Facts revealed in court Wednesday indicated that the bank’s manager at the time, Matthew S. Liebheit, 39, of Moro, had engaged Babcock to assist him with a “staged” bank robbery, which Liebheit then reported, in order for the two of them to share in funds stolen from the bank. When confronted by the police, Babcock returned more than $100,000 taken from the fake bank robbery to investigators.
Liebheit was charged Feb. 27 with two counts of theft, embezzlement, or misapplication by a bank officer or employee, and one count of false bank entries.
Federal prosecutors say Liebheit called police to report a masked individual had forced him into the bank at gunpoint prior to the bank opening. He told police he was forced to give the robber more than $200,000 from the bank’s vault.
The investigation revealed Liebheit’s truck was used by the masked individual and a band of $10 bills was found in a search of Liebheit’s truck. Prosecutors say Liebheit had altered withdrawal documents from a Liberty Bank customer’s account to reflect a larger than intended withdrawal from that customer’s account. The day before the purported robbery, Liebheit allegedly falsified documentation to show a substantial deposit to that customer’s account.
Babcock’s case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Bethalto Police Department. The case is assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Reppert.