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Bank robber suspect pleads guilty

Bank robber Mark Chambers, who hitchhiked to the Kaua‘i Police Department to turn himself in three days after taking almost $3,000 from the First Hawaiian Bank branch in Lihu‘e’s Kukui Grove Center on May 24, has pleaded guilty to the sole count of the federal complaint lodged against him, U.S. Attorney Amy Olson said yesterday.

Olson said that Chambers, 50, of Hanalei, violated U.S. Code Title 18, Section 2113(a), which covers bank robbery “by force and violence, or by intimidation.”

According to the criminal complaint filed on May 30 by Federal Bureau of Investigations Special Agent Rachel Byrd, KPD Det. Trent Shimabukuro said Chambers had entered the bank at roughly 11:30 a.m. “with a brown paper bag and demanded money from the teller.”

Shimabukuro also told Byrd that “another teller overheard Chambers tell the victim teller something like, ‘I’ll come around if I have to and don’t make me come around to get it. Give me the money.’”

Chambers then fled the bank with $2,800 in unmarked bills, and police recovered a baseball hat near the scene, Shimabukuro told Byrd.

On the night of May 27, Chambers hitched a ride with Lihu‘e resident Bill Eichenberger from just outside of Kilauea to KPD headquarters, telling the retired military helicopter pilot that he planned on turning himself in for the robbery.

According to Byrd’s complaint, statements made by Chambers to Shimabukuro that night included “I am the bank robber” and “this will be my third conviction for bank robbery.”

Chambers does have a pair of bank robbery convictions on his record, one stemming from a 1982 incident in Los Angeles and another from a 1997 Kaua‘i robbery that, like the newest charge, was turned over to federal prosecutors.

He pled guilty in the 1997 case and was eventually sentenced to four years, three months in prison and three years of supervised release.

According to KPD records, he served his time at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Ore., a medium-security facility.

Chambers first pleaded not guilty in June, but changed his plea to guilty on July 16 without reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors, and could face up to 20 years behind bars, Olson said.

Public Defender Pamela Byrne explained that by pleading “straight up” to the indictment, Chambers maintains his right to appeal a sentence that falls outside of confusing sentencing guidelines.

Chambers will be sentenced on Oct. 30, and remains in U.S. Marshal custody on O‘ahu, according to court documents.

• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or via e-mail at mlevine@kauaipubco.com

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