Port Angeles man charged with attempted bank robbery

PORT ANGELES — James Lavon Lewis was charged Wednesday with an attempted robbery at the 1st Security Bank in Port Angeles and with allegedly forging $9,724 in checks.

Lewis, 50, was arrested on a bicycle Saturday after allegedly shoplifting a bottle of alcohol from the Port Angeles Safeway.

The Port Angeles man will be arraigned Dec. 22 on counts of first-degree attempted robbery and first-degree identify theft in cases filed separately.

Lewis is being held in the Clallam County jail on $100,000 bail for the alleged attempted bank robbery, $1,000 bail for the shoplifting case and no bail for a Thurston County warrant.

Port Angeles police said Lewis demanded money from a teller at 1st Security Bank on Nov. 24.

“He displayed a note that said, ‘This is a robbery large bills only no tracker don’t press alarm don’t notify anyone,’ ” Port Angeles Police Detective Shane Martin said in the affidavit for probable cause.

As he waited for the teller to return, Lewis allegedly told another bank employee to give him money.

“The suspect grew impatient and fled the scene with no money,” Martin said.

Police interviewed multiple witnesses and disseminated a photograph of the suspect from the bank’s surveillance system.

Police received multiple tips, conducted interviews and identified Lewis as a possible suspect.

Lewis was arrested Saturday in the 100 block of West Fifth Street after allegedly taking a bottle of Bombay Gin from Safeway.

Port Angeles K9 dog Bodie sniffed the seat of a bicycle that Lewis had been riding and led officers to the liquor bottle in a nearby yard, Martin said.

A Safeway loss prevention officer said the value of the gin was $77.68 after tax, court papers said.

Lewis pleaded not guilty to shoplifting in Clallam County District Court. He has a hearing in that case scheduled for Jan. 23.

After the arrest, police obtained a search warrant for the apartment that Lewis was staying in and found clothing that matched the clothing that the suspect was wearing in the attempted bank robbery, Martin said.

Witnesses told police that Lewis had changed his appearance by shaving.

Lewis had a robbery conviction stemming from a bank robbery in Port Angeles in June 2002, Martin said.

According to the FBI, Lewis entered a Bank of America branch and placed a brown paper bag and note on the counter.

“James instructed the teller to give him their money,” Martin wrote in the affidavit for probable cause.

“James obtained some money and was arrested in Vancouver, Wash., the following day.”

The identify theft charge stemmed from a Sequim police investigation in October.

A man told police that a checkbook had been stolen from his vehicle and that $9,724 in 1st Security Bank checks had been forged and cashed at First Federal in Sequim, officer Christopher Wright said in charging papers.

Nine checks were cashed by a man identifying himself as James L. Lewis, with portions of the checks deposited into his personal account, Wright said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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