The FBI is investigating whether a or not a robbery suspect is the serial robber given the name the “Man in Black” after the man had admitted to robbing Clear Lake’s Sherburne State Bank in June 2011.
The man, 49-year-old Mark Edward Wetsch, was arrested in January by St. Peter police after he was spotted driving a vehicle that was seen and suspected to be part of a Rolling Hills Bank robbery in Brewster.
Wetsch entered a guilty plea to robbing five credit unions or banks between March 2011 and January 2012. He also admitted to 25 additional bank robberies, including the latest Clear Lake establishment.
In the Clear Lake bank robbery, the man entered the bank just before noon wearing a mask and holding a handgun. He only got away with $3,000.
Two of the employees dealt with the suspect after he yelled instructions to the tellers while waving the gun. The tellers were the only staffers in the bank at the time of the robbery.
The man fled on foot toward the Amoco just east of the bank. Bank employees said the man was wearing a blue hoodie, blue jeans, and a black knit mask with mouth and eye holes. The robber also wore gloves.
Right after the robbery, one of the tellers set off the panic alarm, which dispatched law enforcement to the bank.
Wetsch has had a rather interesting life as a habitual lawbreaker. In 2005, he was convicted of defrauding the Sholom Home elder care facility where he was employed. The fraud involved $1.4 million and he used part of the money to pay for his daughter’s schooling at one of Minnesota’s more successful high schools.
His daughter, Bria, was a three-time Class A distance running champion in the 3,200 meters. She then went on to the University of Oregon and had a successful career.
Mark Wetsch was sentenced to almost four years in prison in 2005 and was ordered to pay restitution in the case.
Nonetheless, it was mid-May when Wetsch admitted to 31 bank robberies throughout Minnesota, netting over $110,000. His guilty pleas were for robberies in Albertville, St. Peter, Eden Prairie, Hastings, and the Brewster bank robbery that led to his arrest.
When Wetsch appeared in court in February, he was asked if he had money in the bank or a job. He was also asked if he had any investments or owned any cars. He said he had none of that. Reports show at one time Wetsch owned a Corvette, a $500,000 home, a motorcycle, several Jeeps, and several snowmobiles. He also took golf trips to Hawaii and Scotland. He was able to acquire all of this because of the nursing home fraud in 2005.
When Wetsch was released in 2008, he started a collection of convictions that included two citations for speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, failing to obey traffic signals, and a domestic abuse charge for violating a protection order. His total fees for just the traffic convictions were $688.
In the bank robberies, the U.S. Attorney’s Office intends on seeking a 14 year prison sentence. No sentencing date has been set yet.