'Nike hat bank robber' pleads guilty to 14 heists

McCracken's mug shot from his Dec. 29, 2011 arrest. (Source: GPD)
McCracken's mug shot from his Dec. 29, 2011 arrest. (Source: GPD)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A 42-year-old man known as the infamous "Nike hat bank robber" pleaded guilty to 14 bank robberies in Charleston court on Wednesday, almost a year after he was caught "red-handed" in Georgetown by a police investigator and an off-duty State Law Enforcement Division agent.

A release from the United States Attorney's Office states Wesley Todd McCracken, from Myrtle Beach, pleaded guilty to the bank robberies which occurred in six different states. Evidence presented at the hearing established that McCracken began his robbery spree on Oct. 24, 2011, when he robbed a Wells Fargo Bank in Florence, South Carolina. Over the next three months, he robbed 13 other banks in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

During the robberies, McCracken wore little in the way of a disguise except for a navy Nike baseball-style cap. He used a similar method in virtually all of the robberies. After entering the bank he would hand the teller a note demanding cash in certain amounts or denominations while warning against giving him bait money or dye packs. Although McCracken never displayed any weapon, his notes usually stated that he had a gun.

McCracken was caught on Dec. 29, 2011, after robbing the South Carolina Bank and Trust at 1134 North Fraser Street in Georgetown.

According to Georgetown Police Chief Paul Gardner, an unarmed McCracken walked into the bank around noon and handed the teller a note demanding money. The teller then gave him a bag of money containing a dye pack.

Right around that time, the chief said Investigator Ricky Floyd, then on medical leave, and off-duty SLED Agent Rhett Holden were driving by the bank when they noticed McCracken running from the bank.

The law enforcers said they became suspicious, and then the red dye pack in the big exploded, causing a mist of red to fly through the air.

The duo then turned around and headed back towards McCracken, tracking him towards the parking lot of Ryan's Family Restaurant, where they found the suspect sitting in a locked car.

Holden and Floyd then approached the vehicle. Holden was carrying a gun and ordered McCracken out of the car at gunpoint, police said.

After his arrest, McCracken admitted to all of the bank robberies after being shown bank security camera photos from each of the robberies.

The maximum penalty McCracken can receive for each bank robbery is a fine of $250,000 and imprisonment for 20 years. He will be sentenced after a judge has reviewed a pre-sentence report prepared by the United States Probation Office.

The case was investigated by agents of the FBI and various local law enforcement agencies. Assistant United States Attorney Alston C. Badger of the Charleston office handled the case.

Copyright 2012 WCSC. All rights reserved.