A Glenville man once sentenced to five years in federal prison in connection with three bank robberies found himself arrested again earlier this month — on a warrant tied to a robbery he’d already been punished for.
An arrest warrant for the seven-year-old crime meant Daniel M. Fuentes, who had successfully completed his prison sentence and three years of parole supervision, ended up spending five days in custody over the Veterans Day holiday weekend before the situation could be sorted out and Fuentes freed.
The 44-year-old Fuentes’ long weekend began last Friday morning in Glenville, when he said he was nearly hit by a car and wanted to make a police report. He made the report, giving his name and other identifying information, and then left.
A short while later, though, he got a call from the officer. She wanted to speak with him again about the case. He returned and was arrested.
Soon, he found out his arrest warrant was based on the April 28, 2005, robbery of a Bank of America branch in Albany.
“I said I already paid for that,” Fuentes told police when he learned why he was being arrested, he recounted to The Daily Gazette. “I offered to give them my probation officer’s name, they could call him. But they weren’t interested in that. They said, ‘We can’t do anything about that,’ I had to go to Albany.”
What he “paid” for in 2005 were bank robberies in three separate jurisdictions, Albany, Ithaca and Kansas, all within about a week’s time. He was ultimately prosecuted for all three in federal court in Kansas, where he was arrested. He pleaded guilty, served his time and was released. He moved to Glenville only recently.
Fuentes ended up spending the holiday weekend in the Albany County jail, where he met with an assistant public defender. The defender researched Fuentes’ case and had the proper documents ready for court when Fuentes appeared Tuesday morning.
Head Albany County Public Defender James Milstein credited his staff for getting Fuentes freed.
“They acted on this case quickly and were effectively able to resolve this,” Milstein said.
It’s still not clear why there was an old arrest warrant out for Fuentes. Fuentes said he wants the case looked into by an attorney. He doesn’t believe it was a mistake.
He pointed out the warrant wasn’t found upon his release from prison, during the three years he spent supervised or during two non-arrest interactions with police in Massachusetts.
But law enforcement officials said such mistakes do happen. Glenville police Lt. Stephen Janik said that, generally, arresting agencies clear warrants once the person is taken into custody.
Janik was unaware of what happened to Fuentes after Albany police picked him up. When given the details of the case by a reporter, though, Janik speculated something may have fallen through the cracks due to the unusually large number of agencies involved.
According to federal court records, when Fuentes was arrested and questioned in Kansas, he was already a suspect in the Albany and Ithaca heists. Also, according to records, both New York state cases were indicted federally and jurisdiction transferred to Kansas.
Records suggest that after Fuentes’ 2005 arrest, he was never returned to New York and all cases were handled where he was arrested.
“It sounds to me like there were a lot of different agencies involved in that case and that could lead to some confusion, apparently,” Janik speculated.
Police agencies in New York state check for arrest warrants through a law enforcement information portal called eJusticeNY, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. They can check local and national warrants. Local warrants, though, aren’t automatically sent nationally. If a warrant isn’t sent to the national FBI database, an agency searching from another state may miss the New York warrant, the spokeswoman said.
In Fuentes’ Glenville case, Janik said officers ended up running Fuentes’ name through the system after he filed his complaint. Out came the arrest warrant from Albany, Janik said.
“We were kind of surprised that a guy would file a complaint and have an active warrant for his arrest,” Janik said.
That Albany bank robbery in 2005 wasn’t Fuentes’ first. That came in April 2001, when he walked into a Charter One Bank branch at the Empire State Plaza and robbed it. He was then dubbed “the polite robber” because he concluded his note apologizing “for the inconvenience.” He turned himself in after traveling cross-country.
Despite his past, Fuentes said he has stayed out of trouble since his release.