A man who pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators by claiming to be a former U.S. Treasury Department employee was charged Wednesday with robbing a Carlsbad bank months later.
Steven Struhar, 24, of San Marcos, is suspected in the Dec. 21 robbery of a US Bank on Carlsbad Village Drive, in which he allegedly made off with just under $2,000 in cash, court documents state. He was arrested near his residence last Friday by Carlsbad Police.
Struhar was out on bail at the time and awaiting sentencing in a separate bank fraud and false statements case, in which federal prosecutors allege he emailed the Russian Embassy and claimed to be a Treasury Department employee who could provide information related to sanctions the U.S. government imposed on Russia.
According to his plea agreement in the false statements case, Struhar later met in person with someone he believed was a Russian government representative and told this person he had a “Top Secret security clearance” and “offered to provide classified information regarding sanctions imposed by the U.S. Government on Russia,” court documents state. A sentencing memorandum filed by Struhar’s defense attorney indicates the person he met with was actually an undercover FBI agent.
Struhar allegedly said he “was willing to provide this information because he respected Vladimir Putin and his nationalist view as opposed to President Biden’s globalist view…”
The plea agreement states he was interested in being compensated for this information, but didn’t end up continuing his communications with the supposed Russian government representative.
FBI agents later met with Struhar about the incident, and prosecutors allege he falsely told the investigators that he had worked for the Treasury Department, as well as the Manchester Financial Group, but in truth, had never worked for either entity.
The plea agreement also states Struhar deposited two fraudulent checks totaling more than $85,000 into his bank account last year. Struhar pleaded guilty in that case last September.
In the bank robbery case, a probable cause statement filed in federal court Wednesday states a male suspect handed a bank teller a note that read “something to the effect of `This is an armed robbery. Give me $10,000. Keep your hands where I can see them. Don’t hit the alarm.”‘ The document states the robber was given just under $2,000 in cash before he fled the bank. The teller said he did not see a weapon on the suspect despite what the note indicated.
The document states that surveillance footage in the area surrounding the bank captured the suspect running from the bank and getting into a GMC Sierra.
License plate readers scanned the suspect vehicle’s plate, which matched a vehicle registered to Struhar, according to the probable cause statement. Records checks also indicated Struhar was the defendant in the bank fraud and false statements case, and an FBI agent familiar with the other case positively identified Struhar as the robbery suspect captured in the surveillance images, the probable cause statement reads.
— City News Service