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Friend charged in Arkansas bank attempt involving elderly couple

From Carma Hassan, CNN
updated 7:58 PM EST, Thu January 12, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police say Paul Bradley forced a friend's wife to attempt a bank robbery
  • "I had coffee with him all last week," her husband said
  • The woman told tellers she had a bomb strapped to her ankle when she went in
  • Their assailant wore a mask and said little, so they were unable to identify their attacker at first

(CNN) -- A friend of an elderly Arkansas couple has been charged with forcing the wife to try to rob a bank with a fake explosive device, police said Thursday.

Authorities in Fayetteville arrested 60-year-old Paul Bradley on Thursday, three days after 73-year-old Betty Davis walked into a bank there and told a teller she had a bomb fastened to her ankle.

Her husband, Dean Davis, said he has known Bradley for some time.

"I had coffee with him all last week," said Davis, whom police said had been tied up in the couple's home while his wife was forced to go to the bank by a masked assailant. "One morning he paid for my coffee, and I'd like to see him and pay him that back."

Bradley has been charged with aggravated burglary, theft of property, aggravated robbery and kidnapping, Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder told reporters. He said Bradley strapped the phony bomb onto Betty Davis and took her to the bank to force her to withdraw money from her account. Once inside, she told a teller about the plot and that she had been followed to the Arvest Bank branch.

"I felt like I needed to get out of that bank and get everyone out of danger," Betty Davis said. "If he did what he said he was going to do, he would blow it up and hurt all those people."

After Betty Davis talked to police, they went to the couple's home and found Dean Davis tied up, police said.

The assailant wore a mask and said little, so the couple was unable to identify their attacker at first.

"I would have never imagined that of him and never thought he would do something like that," Dean Davis said.

Helder said that authorities "couldn't have had better victims than the Davises."

"They were very calm and collected, and she helped us identify the vehicle," he said.

The FBI assisted in the investigation, Fayetteville police spokesman Sgt. Craig Stout said. Police expect to bring additional charges against Bradley, including extortion, he said.

In March 2011 Bradley received a suspended sentence for his involvement in a scheme to defraud local residents of thousands of dollars, Helder said.

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