Story URL:
Story Retrieval Date: 4/17/2015 11:50:55 AM CST

Top Stories


Charlie Montalvo, shown in the act of robbing a bank, pleaded guilty Thursday  to six counts related to bank heists. 


‘Career offender’ foiled by off-duty cop gets 16 years

by Ross Williams
Apr 10, 2014



Charlie Montalvo is caught on surveillance camera robbing a bank.

A bank robber who was arrested when an off-duty police officer going through the drive-thru teller called 911 was sentenced to 16 years Thursday after having pleaded guilty to six counts related to bank heists.

Charlie Montalvo, 38, of Hillside, Ill., appeared in the District Court in Chicago, his head bowed and his hands behind his back.

Montalvo broke into tears at the stand at several points, asking the court for leniency because he said he had a gambling addiction.

“I made bad decisions because I never learned how to make good ones,” he said. Montalvo said that he planned to enter a 12-step program.

Judge Ronald Guzman was not convinced.

Guzman began the sentencing with a list of Montalvo's previous offenses: criminal trespass at 17, possession of a stolen vehicle at 18, burglary at 20.

Montalvo was released from prison after a 14-year bank robbery sentence in May 2011 and attempted another robbery three months later.

In the back of the courtroom, members of Montalvo's family sniffled softly as the judge went over his prior crimes.

“It's fairly clear he is the definition of a career offender,” the judge said, adding “The only reason he was caught was because the FBI happened to be on surveillance looking for him.”

Montalvo was spotted by an off-duty Chicago police lieutenant with his hand in the till of a FirstMerit Bank on the Northwest Side in 2012. The officer, who was sitting in the drive-thru lane of the bank, called 911 and described the robber.

Montalvo left the bank with $3,480. His description went out over police radio and an FBI officer who was driving near Grand Avenue and Avers Street recognized Montalvo's description. The officer saw a silver Honda registered to Montalvo that had reportedly been used in other robberies.

The officer followed the car, and when Montalvo got out, the FBI officer pulled out his gun, but Montalvo ran away on foot. He was arrested shortly afterward behind a building in the 1200 block of North Springfield Avenue.

Montalvo's lawyers requested he be imprisoned in Florida where he would be closer to his daughter, but Judge Guzman said he would be placed wherever he might best be rehabilitated.