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Case proceeds against 'man in black'

The so-called "man in black" - a suspect in a series of armed bank robberies, including Glenwood State Bank in Alexandria - pleaded not guilty in federal court in St. Paul last Thursday.

Mark Edward Wetsch, 49, of Minneapolis has been charged with 13 counts of armed bank robbery for crimes committed between March 9, 2011 and January 3, 2012.

The indictment alleges that Wetsch robbed a total of $69,104 from the banks, and in each case, put the lives of others in jeopardy by brandishing a firearm.

Wetsch is accused of stealing approximately $3,200 in the Alexandria robbery on December 29. The other robbery charges involved amounts ranging from $1,880 in Brewster to $11,400 in Cologne.

Wetsch remains in custody. If convicted, he faces a potential maximum penalty of 25 years in prison on each count. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.

Wetsch was arrested in January after the Brewster robbery, where he allegedly used a "replica" or toy gun.

In the Alexandria robbery, the indictment says a dangerous weapon - a handgun - was used.

Authorities used the "man in black" description because the suspect in the first few robberies was wearing dark clothing.

Wetsch has an extensive criminal history. He was convicted of five counts of mail fraud in 2005 and sentenced to nearly four years in prison.

While working as a director of nursing at Sholom Community Alliance in St. Louis Park, he stole at least $1,385,000 through the mail scheme. He fabricated a medical supply company and then wrote checks out to that company, depositing the checks into a phony account and then transferring the money to a personal account that he used to pay for trips and vacations and to buy items such as a motorcycle and three snowmobiles, according to court documents.

The Alexandria Police Department assisted in the robbery investigation.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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