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Wednesday, October 14, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Tips Led To Robbery Suspect

Seattle Times Eastside Bureau

Tips from the public put federal investigators on the trail of Randall Fermstad, 30, the Bothell man arrested last weekend in connection with 15 recent bank robberies in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.

FBI Special Agent Roberta Burroughs said media publicity, with photos of the suspect taken by bank surveillance cameras, generated numerous calls to the Puget Sound Violent Crimes Task Force.

Several callers identified Fermstad, who was arrested Saturday outside the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn. He made his initial court appearance yesterday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, where he was ordered held without bail.

Burroughs said publicity about the bank robberies helped bring about the arrest.

After federal investigators thought they knew who the robber was, but not where he was, fliers with his picture and a description of his car were circulated to banks and casinos.

On Oct. 2, a red Ford Taurus seen leaving a Kent bank that had just been robbed was linked with Fermstad, Burroughs said. A federal judge issued a warrant for his arrest last Friday.

He was taken into custody without incident, Burroughs said, after a casino security guard told Fermstad he would call him a cab, but instead called Auburn police.

Dubbed the "baseball-cap" robber, Fermstad is alleged to have started a robbery spree July 2 in Kirkland, holding up at least one bank a week. The last heist was at an Eastgate Seafirst branch Friday.

Wearing a baseball cap and dark sunglasses, the mild-mannered robber never displayed a weapon.

At each holdup, he waited in line, handed a teller a note - usually in a white envelope - demanding money and implying he was armed. He then took the money and walked out.

Louis T. Corsaletti's phone message number is 206-515-5626. His e-mail address is: lcorsaletti@seattletimes.com

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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