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Former East Grand Forks man charged in 1 Minnesota bank robbery, suspected in dozens of others

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region Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Enterprise
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Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

The man arrested this week and charged Thursday with robbing a southwest Minnesota bank and also suspected of being the "Man in Black" robber of dozens of Minnesota banks grew up in East Grand Forks.

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The FBI said although Mark E. Wetsch, 49, of Minneapolis, has been charged in only one robbery so far, he may have robbed dozens of banks.

Wetsch was charged Thursday in state district court in Worthington, Minn., with the robbery of the Rolling Hills Bank in Brewster, Minn., on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Gordon More said Wetsch used a toy gun painted to look real to steal $1,800 from the bank. He was charged with aggravated robbery, terroristic threats and theft, all felonies.

Wetsch asked for a public defender and remains in jail under bail of $300,000.

He was arrested Tuesday near St. Peter, Minn., by the local police who spotted him in a vehicle matching one used in the Brewster bank job hours earlier.

"The FBI is currently evaluating whether Wetsch may be the 'Man in Black,' the serial bank robber who has committed several bank robberies throughout Minnesota and the Twin Cities metropolitan area," according to an FBI news release.

Wetsch already has spent time in prison in at least two states and has lied to his family, according to his mother.

Wetsch's parents, Ed and Rochelle Wetsch, own Velkommen, the Scandinavian shop on Third Street in downtown Grand Forks.

"We are just shocked," Rochelle Wetsch told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis when she learned of his arrest.

She said her son was released recently from prison in Yankton, S.D., where he was serving time for a violation of federal parole and was starting a home health care business.

Growing up in East Grand Forks, Wetsch was "always testing the system," she told the Star Tribune. He visited family last month in East Grand Forks.

"He's misled his wife and he's misled us," she said. "He also told us that he was going to Africa."

Wetsch served time in prison in Minnesota after being convicted of mail fraud in federal court.

While he was director of Sholom Home West nursing home in St. Louis Park, Minn., he created a fake company through which he funneled at least $1.4 million in ill-gotten gains. He spent it on lavish living as well as on expensive training for his daughter, who was a world-class runner from age 12 into college, according to the Star Tribune.

Wetsch has three siblings, according to Herald files.

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