Co Cork man is accused of being the `big-nosed' bank robber


MR DANIEL Finbarr Coleman from Co Cork is accused of being the "Big-Nosed Bandit" sought by a federal and state task force for a series of 15 bank robberies in up-state New York over a two-year period.

Mr Coleman (51), who emigrated to the US in 1980 and became a naturalised American citizen, earned his nickname "Pinocchio" because of his prominent nose - which, police say, was also a factor in his arrest.

New York State trooper Scott Schriner arrested Mr Coleman on December 6th just minutes after a bank robber described as having a large nose threatened a teller with a gun at the Hudson City Savings Institution in East Greenbush and wielded a note demanding "All large bills now."

According to the FBI and local police, Mr Coleman was responsible for a spate of bank raids which began in April 1995 and ended on December 6th.

Mr Coleman was arraigned in federal court on one count of aggravated bank robbery for allegedly stealing $7,200 from Hudson City Savings Bank - but an affidavit filed on December 11th in the United States District Court said Mr Coleman admitted stealing $81,230 from 14 other banks throughout the state since April 1995.

Mr Coleman faces 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. "Coleman allegedly displayed what appeared to be a gun the teller on at least two occasions during the robbery," the FBI said in a statement.

"The defendant admitted after being apprehended that he had committed the East Greenbush robbery, as well as the other 14."

The FBI then listed the robberies which the joint task force had investigated for almost two yea is. The car Mr Coleman was driving on December 6th matched the description of the car driven by the bank robber, police said.

After Trooper Schriner heard the news of the robbery and the robber - someone with a large nose - over the police radio, he spotted Mr Coleman sitting in his car. Mr Coleman was questioned and released, but police then followed him to a local high school where they searched his car.

Detective Whitney of the East Greenbush police department told The Irish Times that Mr Coleman had a pellet gun in his car, and investigators said they also recovered a large quantity of cash and a demand note matching the one used in the East Greenbush robbery.

"In a search of Coleman's car, police recovered cash and other evidence which links Coleman to the robbery," Chief of Police Christopher Lavin said.

Mr Coleman, a building contractor, is married and has six children, the US Attorney's office said. He is being held in Rensselaer county jail.