Desperate Bank Robbers -- From Church Deacons to Grandmas

From Church Deacons to Grandmas -- Desperate Bank Robbers

The scene at South Carolina's Greenville First Bank last month could have been taken out of a Hollywood movie, as a bank robber held terrified hostages at gunpoint until they were able to escape to freedom.

But this time it really happened and the man with the gun was actually a South Carolina church deacon. The standoff lasted 90 minutes.

"I've thought about it a number of times and hoped it would not come down to a hostage negotiation, which it did," hostage Sharon Wilson told a local news station after she escaped.


Police say Bruce Windsor, 43, attempted to steal cash from the bank to save his real estate company that had fallen on hard times. The father of four had no criminal history.

"This doesn't even register. I'm just ill," Windsor told a judge in a subsequent court appearance. "I've never stolen anything in my life."

Windsor now faces up to 30 years in prison.

"Clearly the defense will try to bring in that this person acted out of character, that something had to have gone wrong," criminal defense attorney Thomas Mesereau said.

Across the country, seemingly upstanding citizens like Windsor are being accused of committing crimes just to pay the bills.

Keith Giammanco, a father of 17-year-old twins, was accused of robbing 12 banks of at least $100,000 in September after losing everything in the stock market.

"These types of acts are not typical," Mesereau said. "They are atypical but are happening more and more as we have trouble financially."

'He's My Robin Hood'

Giammanco, a single father, allegedly sacrificed everything to buy his daughters nice things and keep them in private school.

"He's my Robin Hood, you know?" his daughter said. "You know, take from the rich -- these banks are greedy -- and give to better -- his daughters' lives."

But his daughters said they know what their father allegedly did was wrong.

Last month, Barbara Joly, 68, dubbed the "Ohio granny robber," was sentenced to six years in prison for robbing three banks.

Her husband said she was trying to support her son, who had fallen deep into debt.

"She is a wonderful and loving grandmother who simply could not say no to her son's request for more and more financial help," he said.

"When you get a good person who's lived a good life, when they can't find a way out," Mesereau said, "people do snap."

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