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High bonds for robbery suspects

BRADENTON — A man accused of robbing two banks — and nearly robbing one twice — was held on a $250,000 bond Saturday morning at his first appearance in court.

Christopher Boston, 38, is charged with robbery in connection with the April 14 heist at First America Bank, 2811 Manatee Ave. W., and the May 5 robbery at Superior Bank, 2207 Manatee Ave. W., according to a Bradenton Police Department arrest warrant.

A second man, Garrett Lunsford, 22, was also arrested in connection to one of the robberies for allegedly aiding Boston. He is facing a charge of robbery, according to arrest reports.

Bradenton Police tracked down the bank robbery suspects Friday after one of the men confessed to a woman over the phone.

The woman, who lives out of state, contacted police on Thursday.

Bradenton Police detectives Jim Curulla and Kevin Bunch followed up on leads, arresting one man in a downtown bar and another at his residence.

Boston revealed robbery details no one else knew to the woman, according to the arrest warrant. The woman also told police Boston had a narcotics addiction, according to the arrest warrant.

It was just Tuesday that Boston attempted to rob the First America Bank location a second time, however, the bank kept the doors locked.

Boston rattled the doors and then walked toward the back of the building, taking off an outer layer of clothes.

All banks were robbed by a man described as wearing a blue sweatshirt, shorts and a baseball cap who passed a note to a teller, according to authorities.

Boston wore sleeves to cover his arms because he had tattoos, according to reports.

Lunsford gave Boston a ride to Superior Bank on his motorcycle to rob the bank, according to the arrest report.

Boston told police in the other robberies he used a bicycle to get to the banks.

Lunsford also helped Boston by lending him sunglasses and a Peek-A-Boo strip club baseball cap to use as a disguise, according to reports.

Lunsford was given $400 for his share in the robbery and another $100 for the ride, according to report. A total of $2,885 was stolen from Superior Bank.

The dye pack exploded after the Superior Bank robbery burning Boston’s torso, Boston told police in interviews.

Lunsford then allegedly helped Boston clean the money using household cleaning products.

The men reportedly spent pink-stained money at numerous stores in the area, including a Wal-Mart.

Judge Robert Farrance set a $100,000 bond for Lunsford Saturday.

Lunsford asked, “How can I be charged with robbery of any kind if didn’t know anything about it?”

Lunsford’s girlfriend walked out of the detective division Friday night after being questioned. She said she knew about the robberies.

Boston had been staying with her and Lunsford for about four months, she said.

Lunsford and his girlfriend were taken into custody and questioned Friday afternoon when Bradenton Police searched their home in the 2700 block of 19th Avenue West.

“I knew he was doing something stupid,” she said. She said she felt sorry for him.

Those who knew Boston said he was depressed and out of work. He spoke of trying to save money to go back to Michigan, where his girlfriend went with their young child.

Boston drank almost daily at Cork’s Cigar Bar, 425 12th St. W., sometimes drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and Yuengling beer, according to staff.

That’s where Curulla and Bunch found him Friday afternoon.

Cork and Susan Miller, owners of Cork’s, said Boston was usually broke and asked for work. He volunteered to help unload shipments of drinks when they came in, Cork Miller said.

“He was down on his luck,” Miller said. “But you would have never known.”

On Tuesday, Boston came into the bar wearing some of the same clothes he wore in the attempted robbery of First America Bank in April, he said.

Susan Miller said she checked for pink money but saw none at the bar.

On Saturday morning, Boston told Judge Farrance he was an out-of-work carpenter who had lived in the area for three years.

Tony Toledo, a friend of the Millers, had given Boston a Christmas tree and $100 during the holidays for his young child.

“I won’t believe it,” said Toledo in disbelief late Friday night in a back room at the bar. “He would say, ‘Man I just need to find some work.’ I told him to hang in there. ... It’s really a shame. He seemed like a nice guy.”

Boston is expected to be charged with two more counts of robbery.

Police continue to investigate the robberies.

Beth Burger, criminal justice reporter, can be reached at 708-7919.