Aug. 7, 2006

Bank robbery suspect captured in California

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

The man charged with robbing Citizens State Bank Waverly July 14 was captured in California Tuesday morning Aug. 1 just before 10 a.m., according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Ronald Howard Cleveland Jr., 27, of Dayton, was arrested while exiting a residence in Gardena, Calif., which is a southeastern suburb of Los Angeles.

Special Agent Paul McCabe of the FBI said Cleveland was scheduled to make his initial federal court appearance in California Tuesday or Wednesday, before being sent back to Minnesota.

“We believe that shortly after his bank robbery he fled the state,” McCabe said. He made his way to Las Vegas, Nev., where he met a female companion and followed her to Gardena, McCabe said, noting that Cleveland had already obtained employment at a used car lot in Hawthorne, Calif.

“I had complete confidence that the Minnesota Fugitive Task Force (MFTF) would capture him,” McCabe said.

Suspect’s stepfather also charged

Ronald Howard Cleveland Jr.’s stepfather is also facing a charge of aiding an offender to avoid arrest, according to the Wright County Sheriff’s Department.

Kerry Lynn Watson, 53, of Waverly, was questioned about his stepson Cleveland’s possible involvement in the robbery that took place at Citizens State Bank in Waverly July 14.

Watson told authorities that Cleveland showed up at his residence on 20th St. SW in rural Waverly and was upset. Cleveland allegedly asked Watson to hide his vehicle on Watson’s property, and told Watson that he had done something “really stupid,” according to a formal complaint. Cleveland than asked Watson to give him a ride to Wal-Mart.

Watson agreed and ended up taking Cleveland to Anoka, according to the complaint. Watson admitted to speaking with a representative of the sheriff’s department on the phone while Cleveland was in the vehicle with him.

Watson stated he lied to the sheriff’s department and stated he dropped Cleveland off in Plymouth, but actually dropped him off in Anoka. Because of this, several agencies unnecessarily became involved in the search for Cleveland, according to the complaint.

Watson is facing a felony charge of aiding an offender to avoid arrest, which carries a maximum penalty of three years, and/or a $5,000 fine.

He was released from the Wright County Jail on bail July 17, and has a court date set for Friday, Aug. 18, according to the Wright County Attorney’s Office.

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