Government

‘Straw Hat Bandit’ Gets 71 Years In Prison


Boyle robbing a bank. Credit: FBI

The Plumstead Township man who became known as the “Straw Hat Bandit” after a series of bank robberies was sentenced to 71 years in federal prison on Wednesday. 

Richard Boyle, 60, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Gene E.K. Pratter to the long prison term, five years supervised release, and $495,000 restitution, according to the U.S Department of Justice. 

Boyle, who pleaded guilty last year, dropped his attorney in January and represented himself in court on Wednesday, according to federal records.

The 11-robbery spree took place between 2012 and 2016 across the Philadelphia region totaled $495,686 in stolen cash.

Boyle became known to the public as the “Straw Hat Bandit” due to the fact he often held bank employees at gunpoint while wearing disguises, including a straw hat. 

The suspect during the Wrightstown robbery. Credit: FBI

Locally, Boyle walked into the Wrightstown branch of what was then First Federal of Bucks County at 803 Park Avenue and robbed the bank on September 28, 2012. Several months later on January 1, 2013, he walked into the Well Fargo Bank at 706 Stony Hill Road in Lower Makefield and robbed the branch.

Federal authorities said Boyle used threats of violence to get his loot. He forced bank employees to open the vaults and cash-rich ATM machines at gunpoint.

Boyle made off with large sums of money that were higher than the average bank robbery. Federal authorities said he stole tens of thousands of dollars at a time during his robberies, including $90,000 from a Montgomery County bank in 2015.

The robberies were carefully planned and used disguises, gloves, and even spreading bleach on the floor of the banks to conceal his DNA. Boyle also called 9-1-1 to report nonexistent emergencies to slow the police response. The fake emergencies called in included a country club bomb threat, a gunman at Temple University, and a planned attack at a mall. 

Boyle used his drone photography business Sky Eye View, which was based in Doylestown, to launder the stolen funds. Boyle employed the drone business’ Square merchant payment account to process some of the stolen funds, but the business in reality earned “very little revenue” and “no profits,” federal authorities said. 

“The days of the ‘Straw Hat Bandit’ terrorizing the Philadelphia suburbs are over,” said U.S. Attorney William McSwain. “He will no longer be stealing, playing games with the police, or putting innocent lives at risk. Instead, he will be spending the rest of his life in prison – something that he richly deserves.”

NewtownPANow.com previously reported that that Boyle, who was licensed to operate a drone by the Federal Aviation Administration, was convicted of taking more than $100,000 from eight banks between 2007 and 2008. That bank robbery spree took place over Bucks, Montgomery, Lehigh and Northampton counties.

“Richard Boyle served time in prison for a prior string of bank robberies,” said Tara McMahon, acting special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia field office. “Once out, he not only picked up where he’d left off, he escalated his crimes – carefully plotting diversions and disguises, and arming himself with a gun. For terrorizing the employees of nearly a dozen banks and putting people’s lives at risk, he’s back behind bars, and this lengthy sentence ensures the so-called ‘Straw Hat Bandit’ won’t ride again anytime soon.”

According to a sentencing memorandum, Boyle described growing up in a “chaotic and traumatic” household where he was physically abused by his father, causing him to runaway several times. He joined the Navy as a young man and was discharged for mental health reasons. Later, he worked as a surgical assistant at hospitals in south Florida.

Boyle has two sons and two daughters. While in the federal detention center, Boyle was only visited by his daughters.

Federal authorities arrested Boyle was in April 2017 after a years-long investigation that involved numerous agencies. 


About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for five years for both newspaper and online publications. In 2012, Tom was honored at the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Foundation's Keystone Press Awards for his coverage of President Obama's visit to Falls Township in 2011. When he's not covering news in the area, Tom enjoys checking out the newest restaurants and bars, exploring forgotten places of industry in the area, going to local parks and spending time with his friends and family. If there's one thing you should know about Tom, he is a local news junkie through and through. Email: tom@newtownpanow.com Phone: 215-431-1001