Janesville35.1°

Man found guilty of robbing Janesville bank

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ANN MARIE AMES
May 30, 2012
— A Rock County jury Tuesday took 16 minutes to find a former Texas teacher guilty of robbing Johnson Bank in downtown Janesville in October.

Rahn E. Gearhart, 54, no fixed address, was found guilty of robbery of a financial institution, a felony. He faces a fine of $100,000 or 40 years in prison. The jury selection and trial took a little longer than eight hours.


Gearhart on Oct. 17 handed a note to a teller at Johnson Bank, 1 S. Main St., Janesville, that demanded cash, which the teller gave him, according to court documents. He then walked to The Gazette, 1 S. Parker Drive, Janesville, where he asked an employee to call police, according to court documents.


Police arrested Gearhart at The Gazette without incident. He was not carrying a weapon and did not tell anyone he was, according to court documents.


Gearhart in court said he planned the robbery because he was homeless and out of money. He had been a teacher for about 15 years and holds several academic degrees but had been out of work since 2009, he said. Gearhart couldn't bring himself to seek help at a local homeless shelter or other agency, he said.


"For me to admit I had somehow failed academically, professionally, that was a big hit to my dignity," Gearhart said.


Gearhart didn't want to scare anyone when he robbed the bank, he said. He wrote "do not panic" on the note so the teller wouldn't be frightened, he said.


He chose to go to The Gazette because he thought police would be unlikely to draw weapons there, making it "the safest place to give myself up," he said.


Johnson Bank teller Wendy Medrano said she was scared when Gearhart handed her the note.


"There's always the 'what if?' Medrano said.


Gearhart has been in custody at the Rock County Jail on a $25,000 cash bond. District Attorney David O'Leary on Tuesday moved to revoke the bond.


A sentencing hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 31.



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