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Drug suspect also charged in bank robbery

A Lackawanna native whom police described as a career bank robber and thief was charged Friday with a December holdup in his hometown.

An arrest warrant was obtained for Timothy J. Ernle, 45, in connection with the Dec. 27 robbery of the M&T Bank, 2731 South Park Ave. Ernle, whose most recent address was in Buffalo, was charged with robbery, criminal possession of stolen property and grand larceny.

Ernle already was in custody in the Erie County Holding Center, as a result of his arrest on Dec. 29 by Buffalo police on drug-related charges.

According to Lackawanna Police Capt. Ronald Miller, a man walked into the bank the morning of Dec. 27 and demanded money. "Give me all hundreds, fifties and twenties from the top drawer," he reportedly said. "No die pack. No bait."

After the teller complied, the robber said: "Bottom drawer now," the captain related.

Without specifying the amount of cash surrendered, Miller described it as "substantial."

Officer Keith Alvarez was responding to the reported robbery when he saw a man running away from the bank, Miller said. After getting a description of the robber from bank personnel, Alvarez searched the area and found Ernle, the captain said.

Ernle was brought in for questioning, but there wasn't enough evidence then to charge him.

Friday afternoon, police searched a West Seneca residence, where $2,712 was recovered, Miller said.

"The money, for the last few days, was being moved around" by two people at Ernle's direction, Miller said. "He had given them instructions on how to divide it up."

No charges have been filed against the two, although Miller said the investigation continues.

Along with Miller, Lt. William Kukoleca, and Detectives Paul Sojda and Allen Knaszak handled the investigation.

"Without the astute observations of Officer Keith Alvarez, it may have been some time before we looked at Mr. Ernle as a suspect," Miller said.

Ernle's career as a bank robber dates back to 1980 and includes at least two prior arrests, according to Miller.

While information wasn't immediately available on prison time served for bank robbery, Ernle most recently was paroled from state prison in 2004. Since 1999, he has served two stretches on stolen property-related convictions.


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