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Bank robbery suspect identified

Submitted Photo A view from inside the bank during Tuesday morning's robbery.1 / 2
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WORTHINGTON -- According to U.S. District Court documents, the man arrested Tuesday for allegedly robbing the Rolling Hills Bank in Brewster has run up against the law before. He was released from the federal prison in Yankton, S.D. in October, after serving four months for probation violation. In 2005, he was sentenced to serve more than three years in the same prison for mail fraud.

Mark Edward Wetsch, 49, of Minneapolis, was arrested in St. Peter shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday when St. Peter Police Detective Sandland observed a silver Ford Edge northbound on Minnesota 169 south of St. Peter. The vehicle, a light-colored Ford Edge SUV, matched the description of a vehicle used at the Brewster robbery, and also one used during a robbery of the Wells Fargo Bank in St. Peter on Dec. 22. The SUV was stopped, and the driver asked to exit the vehicle. During a search, the officers located a pistol -- later found to not be a real gun -- and a large amount of currency. The stop was conducted without incident, and the driver, identified as Wetsch, was cooperative.

The FBI is currently evaluating whether Wetsch may be the "Man in Black," a serial bank robber who committed several robberies throughout Minnesota and the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Wetsch was transferred to the custody of the Nobles County Jail Wednesday, and a criminal complaint from the Nobles County Attorney's Office is pending.

FBI Special Agent Kyle Loven said he did not know when the federal indictment against Wetsch would be filed. According to St. Peter Police Chief Matt Peters, circumstances suggest Wetsch may be responsible for other robberies, but because the investigation involves multiple jurisdictions, the inquiry will be lengthy and complex.

"It was good, heads-up work by the St. Peter Police Department and Nicollet County Sheriff's Office," said Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening about the arrest.

A federal indictment filed in February 2005 alleges Wetsch, while employed as the director of nursing and home care at Sholom Home West in St. Louis Park, knowingly and intentionally devised a scheme to defraud and obtain at least $1,385,000 in money and property.

Court documents state Wetsch filled out purchase orders for medical supplies and equipment and fabricated invoices to a fictitious company he created, then picked up the checks, deposited them in his fake company's account and later transferred the money to his personal account.

According to the indictment, Wetsch worked at Sholom from 1997 until he resigned in January 2005 after his fraudulent conduct was discovered.

While employed at Sholom, Wetsch submitted more than 400 false invoices.

He used the stolen funds to pay for improvements to his home, purchase a Corvette and three Jeeps, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, several snowmobiles and to pay for numerous trips for himself and his daughter.

He paid for a private running coach for the girl and traveled throughout the country so his daughter could compete in running races.

He leased specialized athletic training equipment, attempted to start a running company and made donations to running organizations.

Wetsch also paid the tuition to a private school and took his family on vacations to New York, Hawaii, Arizona and Scotland.

Wetsch pleaded guilty to four counts of mail fraud in October 2005 and was sentenced to 46 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,586,959 in restitution.

Between March 2009 and June 2010, Wetsch submitted monthly reports to his probation office that indicated his net income totaled $29,653, but according to bank statements received from the U.S. Attorney's Office, he deposited $131,293 into his bank account during the same period.

In November 2010, he was charged with domestic abuse-violation of order for protection.

These things violated his probation, and he was sentenced in June 2011 to four months.

Federal prison records indicate he was released Oct. 12, 2011.