Two Terre Haute men arrested in connection with a Farmersburg bank heist have been charged with class-C felonies.
Kenneth Earl Shelton, 43, and Ryan Matthew Ellinger, 20, both appeared in Sullivan Circuit Court on Thursday afternoon where Judge P.J. Pierson set their trial dates for late this year.
According to information filed with the court by the Sullivan County Prosecutor’s Office, Shelton has a lengthy criminal record, including two prior unrelated convictions in Marion County for a 2000 robbery and a 20007 conviction of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. Those prior convictions led to the filing of a habitual offender enhancement against Shelton, along with the robbery charge. The enhancement can add as much as three times any prison sentence Shelton receives if he is convicted of robbery, which has a sentencing range of two to eight years.
Shelton’s trial is set for Nov. 19, and his bail is set at $65,000 with no 10 percent allowed.
Ellinger faces a charge of conspiracy to commit robbery. His trial date is set for Dec. 2, and his bail was set at $15,000 with no 10 percent allowed.
The investigation by the Indiana State Police revealed Ellinger and Shelton live in the same neighborhood. Ellinger told police investigators Shelton had tried recruiting the younger man to help Shelton rob a bank, and that Ellinger said he at first resisted, but he was later persuaded to help Shelton.
Ellinger told police that on Monday, Ellinger showed up at his apartment wearing makeup to disguise his face and to cover tattoos. Police said Ellinger used his girlfriend’s vehicle to drive with Shelton to Farmersburg, where they waited at a gas station before going to the First Financial Bank branch in Farmersburg. Ellinger said Shelton went inside the bank to commit the robbery, while Ellinger waited in the getaway vehicle.
As the two men returned to Terre Haute, Shelton allegedly took off clothing that he was wearing and tossed it out of the car. Shelton also allegedly paid Ellinger $400 in $5 bills for driving the getaway car.
Ellinger also said that Shelton told him he got only about $4,000 from the bank. However, police said bank personnel reported that more than $17,000 was taken in the robbery. Police later recovered more than $14,000 from the apartment where Shelton lived with his girlfriend. Additional money from the robbery was recovered from a pickup truck driven by Shelton.
In interviewing bank personnel, police learned that a man similar in appearance to the bank robber’s description had been in the bank on the previous Friday and had inquired about an account that he had at the bank. Police reviewed video footage from that day and located a man matching Ellinger’s description. His account was checked and police located an address for Ellinger.
Other tips about the identity of the robber and suspected driver were also received from the public after police distributed photographs and video of the robbery to area news media. Video obtained from businesses near the bank also showed the suspect car in the area at the time of the robbery.
Police report that Ellinger helped investigators locate the clothing discarded by Shelton.
During their court hearing Thursday, both men requested public defenders to represent them. Judge Pierson appointed attorney Ed Powell to represent Shelton, who has a formal pretrial conference date of Oct. 18.
The judge appointed attorney John Elmore to represent Ellinger, who has a former pretrial conference date of Nov. 1.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.