Allegedly Robert Alan Peters, 45 of Frazier Park with a pistol (in his right hand) during bank robbery in Grants Pass. Inset, Anthony Arrigo, 55 of Frazier Park and Grants Pass.
By Patric Hedlund
Lack of honor among thieves may be a hazard of the profession and a cliché of TV dramas, but two men with local ties appeared to be straight from central casting as the FBI—along with officers from six agencies in two states—investigated an Oregon bank robbery that led to Frazier Park recently.
According to Detective Sergeant Dennis Ward of the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety, Anthony George Arrigo, 55 who owns property in Frazier Park and has served as a home inspector for realtors in this area, walked into the Grants Pass police station in March to tell officers he thought he knew who robbed the Umpqua Bank on January 18, 2008. Video surveillance footage had been circulated in the media. It showed the robber pulling out a gun, firing two rounds into the ceiling and asking for money. He left with $12,000.
Arrigo pointed investigators to Robert Alan Peters of Frazier Park. He said he had rented property to Peters in Frazier Park and in Grants Pass, Ward reported.
“They’ve known each other for awhile,” Ward said, almost 30 years. In his March visit to the police, Arrigo reported that Peters owed money to him as his landlord, then suddenly paid his debt shortly after the robbery, saying he had “inherited” some money.
Officers from Oregon were joined by Kern County Special Operations deputies to serve search warrants in Lake of the Woods and Frazier Park as they looked for Peters. They arrested him as he was moving to a place in Castaic, Ward said.
Then the tables turned once again. During their investigation with Peters, they obtained information that led them to seek one more search warrant.
While Peters was taken to Kern County, then returned to Los Angeles County Jail to face outstanding DUI charges there, detectives from the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety, a detective from the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office and an FBI agent showed up at Arrigo’s front door in Grants Pass.
On April 1 at about 8:30 p.m. they presented him with the warrant and took Arrigo into custody. But it was no April Fool’s joke.
Detectives located three devices which appeared to be grenades and blasting caps. The residence was evacuated and the Oregon State Police Bomb Squad was called to the scene. The bomb squad took possession of the devices and cleared the residence.
Detectives then continued the search, seizing money from the residence and locating a firearm that is believed to have been used in the robbery.
Arrigo was transported to the Josephine County Jail on robbery charges.
Investigators said they had probable cause to believe that Arrigo participated by providing the firearm used in the robbery, sharing in the proceeds and by making a false 911 call to the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety on January 18, 2008, reporting a bank robbery to draw law enforcement to the opposite side of town just prior to the Umpqua Bank robbery.
When Ward was told that people in the Mountain Communities had wondered aloud whether Robert Alan Peters was “a good guy caught up in the economic downturn,” he was quick to respond.
“Mr. Peters is no Robin Hood,” Ward said, “Is he a nice guy? Yeah, I liked him the first time I talked with him. Did he mess up? Yeah. And he was up front and honest about that.
“I think, like everyone else in life, he ran into some hard times and he made some poor decisions about how he was going to get himself out of that.”
Federal prosecutors are now considering whether to file federal charges against the men for using and discharging a gun in the midst of a bank robbery.
If convicted, Ward said, it is likely they will each serve a minimum of 7.5 years in prison.
Anyone with further information about this incident is asked to contact the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety at (541) 474-6370.
This is part of the April 17, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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