Niles bank robbery case turned over to federal court

The case against a man accused of a bank robbery turned bomb scare in downtown Niles was transferred from state to federal court.

According to the Herald Palladium, Richard Smith, 44, of Benton Harbor appeared in federal for the first on Thursday. He will be formally arraigned on Mar. 5 on one count of bank robbery by force.

The state’s case against Smith was dismissed last week in Berrien County Trial Court, bank robbery cases are handled in federal court because the federal government insures banks.

On Feb. 15 the Chemical Bank in downtown Niles was robbed. Investigators say smith handed the teller a note demanding money and threatening to blow up the bank if police were called.

Authorities that arrived at the bank said a suspicious bag was left behind, but after further investigation they learned it contained a pair of boots and not a bomb.

Smith allegedly got away with $1,800, none of which has been recovered.

Now that his case has moved on to federal court, Smith faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted.

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