Federal investigators said a former bailiff for the courts in Greene and Christian counties robbed a bank in north Springfield on July 9. FBI agents say security video and information from witnesses helped them track down suspect Timothy Polodna.
"I came into work around 10:25. I walked in, clock in, and went to turn on the open sign and noticed there was a silver truck outside," said Ashley Pearce, a Rice House employee.
July 9 was a day like any other for Pearce, but when she got to her job at the restaurant on Grant Avenue at Kearney Street last Wednesday, she said there was already a customer parked outside waiting.
"I was about to go tell him, 'We're open; you can come in,' but then I changed my mind and got back to work," she said.
It is a good thing she did, because federal investigators said the person inside that truck was Polodna. Investigators said the former bailiff was armed with a gun and claimed he had an explosive device when he walked into the Bank of America across the street.
"The cops came in later and were, like, 'Do you know what happened over there?' and I was, like, 'No.' They're, like, 'They just got robbed,' He was, like, 'Did you see a silver truck?' and I was, like,' Yeah, I seen him out there,'" Pearce said.
An FBI agent's affidavit says the robber forced the branch manager of the Bank of America to walk outside with him and then across the street to the Rice House restaurant. It says the robber then told the branch manager that he should walk three blocks north before he called police.
Security cameras caught the suspect jumping into a truck and speeding away. The affidavit says another witness followed him in her vehicle, but the fleeing robber pointed a gun at her, and she stopped her pursuit.
"It's scary, because you never know what could happen. One of us could've been walking out there," Pearce said.
The robber got away but not for long. A tip led investigators to the vehicle and eventually to Polodna.
"Gives people safer feeling to know they actually caught them when there was little evidence to begin with," Pearce said.
The affidavit says, the day after the robbery, Polodna paid nearly$800 on his past-due bills, got his car back from the credit union that had repossessed it, and told his ex-wife he would be able to catch up on child support payments.
Family members told agents that Polodna was unemployed.
Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott says former sheriff John Pierpont fired Polodna from his job as a bailiff and court security officer in 2000; Arnott didn't know the reason. Christian County Sheriff Joey Kyle says Polodna worked at the Christian County Judicial Center as a bailiff and security officer from 2005 to 2006; Kyle didn't know why he left that job.