News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 2, 2013

Two suspects charged with unarmed robbery

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Two suspects in a Farmersburg bank robbery have been charged in federal court with unarmed bank robbery.

The two, Kenneth Shelton, 43, and Ryan Ellinger, 20, face up to 20 years in federal prison if they are convicted of the July 15 robbery of the First Financial Bank branch along U.S. 41 in northern Sullivan County.

U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett announced the federal charges on Thursday, accompanied by Sullivan County Prosecutor Robert Hunley, at the U.S. District Courthouse in Terre Haute.

Hunley said robbery charges filed in Sullivan County against Shelton and Ellinger carry a penalty of up to eight years in prison, but a federal conviction has a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. He said the Sullivan County charges will be dismissed because of the federal prosecution.

“I think this is just a wonderful example of cooperation from the federal, state and local agencies,” Hunley said. “This robbery was solved within 24 hours. That is unusual, and I am thrilled the U.S. Attorney’s Office wants to get involved in this case.”

Hogsett echoed Hunley’s praise for the quick action by investigators in the case. The robbery occurred at about 10 a.m., when a man wearing a disguise gave a note demanding money to the bank teller and threatened to shoot her if she did not give him money or if she pressed any alarm buttons. The suspect allegedly took more than $17,000 from the bank.

A review of bank surveillance video led investigators to suspect Shelton, who had been in the bank the week before the robbery to check on an old bank account. Police also located Ellinger, a neighbor of Shelton’s who allegedly drove Shelton from Terre Haute to Farmersburg and then returned home. Ellinger reportedly received $400 from Shelton as payment for being the driver.

Police said they recovered about $15,000 hidden at Shelton’s residence when they executed search warrants there the following day.

The case was investigated by the FBI, Indiana State Police and Sullivan and Vigo county sheriff’s departments.

Both Ellinger and Shelton were arraigned in federal court Wednesday afternoon.

Ellinger was released to home detention with electronic GPS monitoring.

Shelton was held in custody pending a detention hearing on Tuesday in Indianapolis.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.