For more than 25 years, two men dressed in trench coats robbed banks across the United States. Authorities called them the "Trench Coat Robbers."
Two of those robberies took place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
On June 28, 1988, two gunmen attempted to rob a branch of the First Wisconsin Bank. They entered just after the bank closed, but because the vault was locked, they got no money, leaving after they left bank employees tied up in the basement. On Oct. 18, 1989, two men fitting the same description were more successful when they robbed another First Wisconsin branch. The take was more than $400,000.
Not long after, an FBI agent in Wisconsin took a vacation to Boston and read about an armored car robbery there in which two men, Frank Bolduc
, 42, and Francis Larkin, 55, had been arrested.
Because they were accused of tying up their victims, the agent arranged to have the men brought to Wisconsin where they were put in a lineup and identified as the Milwaukee robbers.
Both were convicted by a federal jury in Milwaukee on February 26, 1991, after they were identified by eyewitnesses. Bolduc was sentenced to 48 years and four months in prison. Larkin was sentenced to 32 years and six months in prison. After the conviction, the armored car robbery charges in Boston were dismissed. Bolduc, who had earlier been convicted of second-degree murder in Massachusetts and released on parole, was returned to Massachusetts where his parole was revoked and he resumed serving a life sentence.
Despite their imprisonment, the trench coat robberies continued, including a $4.5 million heist from a bank in the state of Washington.
In 1997, William Kirkpatrick and Ray Bowman were charged with numerous bank robberies and in 1999 they confessed to being the trench coat robbers and committing nearly 30 heists. Kirkpatrick confessed to the Wisconsin robberies and said Bolduc and Larkin had nothing do to with the crimes.
At the time, the attorney for Kirkpatrick discovered FBI reports revealing that witnesses to the Milwaukee crimes had identified other men—not Bolduc or Larkin—but the reports were never turned over to the defense attorneys for Bolduc and Larkin.
A federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus to vacate their convictions was granted on June 11, 1999. Larkin was released in June 1999. Bolduc was released in November 1999.
Larkin died on November 27, 2001.
A wrongful conviction lawsuit brought by Bolduc and Larkin's estate was dismissed in 2003.
– Maurice Possley