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Obama Mask-Wearing Bank Robbery Suspect Held on $75K Bail

Police say the suspect had a gun and ammunition on him, never brandished a gun in the bank.

A man identified as John Robert Griffin Jr., 52, of 186 S. Main St., Newport, allegedly robbed the Merrimack branch of Bank of America dressed like President Barack Obama on Sept. 11, 2013. [Credit: Courtesy Merrimack Police]
A man identified as John Robert Griffin Jr., 52, of 186 S. Main St., Newport, allegedly robbed the Merrimack branch of Bank of America dressed like President Barack Obama on Sept. 11, 2013. [Credit: Courtesy Merrimack Police]
MERRIMACK, NH -- A Newport man who was arrested for robbing Bank of America wearing a mask depicting President Barack Obama was arraigned Wednesday afternoon and ordered held on $75,000 cash bail.

John Robert Griffin Jr., 52, of 186 S. Main St., Newport, N.H., was arrested Wednesday morning shortly after he allegedly robbed the Bank of America at 356 Daniel Webster Highway dressed in an Obama mask, suit jacket, tie and jeans.

Surveillance photos show the suspect in disguise.

Because of the witness descriptions of the man and a provided direction of travel, Lt. Paul Trepaney was able to spot the suspect coming out from behind a business on Columbia Circle just north of the bank, within about 15 minutes of the robbery.

Police say Griffin initially had left the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Lt. Denise Roy said he never brandished a gun in the bank, but Merrimack Police Prosecutor Melissa Kowalewski said during Griffin's arraignment that when he was taken into custody, he was found to be in possession of a semi-automatic pistol and ammunition.

Kowalewski recommended Griffin be held on $75,000 cash or surety bail during the arraignment, saying that though Griffin doesn't have a criminal history, he poses a danger to the community as he had "no qualms" walking into a bank with a gun on him during the middle of the morning and robbing it, putting the teller in imminent fear of her safety.

Griffin, who spoke briefly at the arraignment, claimed he wasn't armed when he entered the bank.

Judge Robert Stephen said he didn't want the details of what happened, but wanted to hear from Griffin if he so desired in regard to his argument for bail.

Griffin told the court he was not a flight risk, asking where he would go now that he is in the system. He said it "would serve no purpose."

He also said he does not consider himself a dangerous person.

"I certainly don't mean anybody any harm," Griffin said.

Stephen, however, agreed with Kowalewski that Griffin being found in possession of a gun and ammunition and demanding money from a teller putting her in fear of being harmed suggested he was a danger to the community. He said he believed $75,000 cash-only was a more appropriate bail.

Griffin will be held in Valley Street Jail until he can make bail or pending a probable cause hearing in Merrimack's district court on Sept. 20.
Bill September 11, 2013 at 06:48 PM
Over here in Detroit, we have real police officers holding up people at gunpoint and dont seem to get the same treatment.We also have building inspectors passing your jobs for cash. Guess it all depend on what you call imment threat
Phil Collins September 11, 2013 at 10:59 PM
Obama knocking down Banks and I thought only Republicans did that ! LOL
Gene Shumaker September 12, 2013 at 12:06 AM
Well he tried maybe next time..
Frank September 12, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Rob a bank wearing an obama mask, that's an outrage...he will never get a bank robbing job again!!!
Gale September 12, 2013 at 01:45 AM
Well Obama has been robbing us for years, so this should come as no surprise.
Bert Marchael September 12, 2013 at 05:52 AM
Guy had to be a republican. No lazy mooching off the system democrat would put in the time and effort and work to rob a bank, they just let the government do it for them. I think this robbery was symbolic. Like Robin Hood, Obama robs from the rich and gives to the poor.
Don Hellbound September 12, 2013 at 06:34 AM
he looks more like an Arana tang.
Manny Marcel September 12, 2013 at 08:40 AM
Appropriately dressed!
Brian L. McLaughlin September 12, 2013 at 11:39 AM
Seems fitting.
MikeyParks September 12, 2013 at 03:01 PM
He should be barred for life from ever robbing a bank again for wearing that Obama mask.
John Straub September 12, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Maybe it was Obama wearing a John Robert Griffin mask, wearing an Obama mask stealing from a bank. He has been robbing us of our liberties and rights since his first day in office.
Robert J. Krafton Jr. September 13, 2013 at 11:07 AM
I used to know this man and in the past has exhibit some extremely strange behavior. So hearing that he has been caught doing this is not a surprise to me. I also would consider him possibly a dangerous person. Jack I have some advice for you, start bulking up, your going to need it.

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