Wednesday, September 28, 2016
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX: (716) 551-3051
ROCHESTER, N.Y.—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Richard Leon Wilbern, 56, of Rochester, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with credit union robbery resulting in death and possession and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in death. If convicted, the charges carry a penalty of life in prison or, with the approval of the Attorney General, the death penalty.
"Coming after 13 long years, this arrest is a tribute to the dogged perseverance of law enforcement, and the prayers and support of victims, surviving family members, and the public," said U.S. Attorney Hochul.
“We sought the public's help back in March, and we were not let down," said Adam S. Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Buffalo Division. "We cannot emphasize enough the value of the people who live and work in our community. We are beyond thankful to not only that one person, but to everyone who has worked tirelessly to get to this day."
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Douglas E. Gregory, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, on August 12, 2003 at approximately 9:45 a.m., the defendant walked into Xerox Federal Credit Union (XFCU), located on the Xerox Corporation campus at 800 Phillips Road in Webster, NY. Wilbern was wearing a dark blue nylon jacket with the letters “FBI” written in yellow on the back of the jacket, sunglasses and a poorly fitting wig. The defendant was also carrying a large briefcase, a green and gray-colored umbrella and had what appeared to be a United States Marshals badge hanging on a chain around his neck.
Wilbern went into the cubicle of a female employee and told the employee that he was there to conduct a security assessment and to “stage” a robbery. The defendant subsequently removed two firearms from the briefcase, one described as a handgun, the other a sawed-off shot gun or sawed-off rifle. Wilbern also removed a bag and instructed the employee to fill the bag with money from behind the teller counter. The employee complied with the demands.
Shortly after, the defendant ordered employees and customers to lay down on the floor. While doing so, Wilbern confronted a customer Raymond Batzel who had just finished a banking transaction with the teller. After a very brief verbal altercation, the defendant shot Batzel in the neck which resulted in his death. As Wilbern shot Batzel, a second customer entered the credit union and attempted to turn and run back outside after witnessing the shooting. The defendant shot and wounded the customer in the back as he fled. After shooting the two customers, Wilbern returned to the teller counter area and, while holding the firearm in the air, told credit union employees to fill the bag with cash. The defendant then took the money and fled the credit union leaving behind the umbrella.
In March 2016, a press conference was held to seek new leads in the investigation. Details of the crime were releases as well as photographs of Wilbern committing the robbery. Anyone with information was asked to call a dedicated hotline.
On March 27, 2016, a concerned citizen contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and indicated that the person who committed the crime was likely a former Xerox employee named Richard Wilbern. The citizen indicated that the defendant worked for Xerox prior to the robbery but had been fired. The citizen also stated that they recognized Wilbern’s face from the photos.
Further investigation determined that the defendant was in fact employed by Xerox between September 1996 and February 23, 2001 as which time he was terminated for repeated employment related infractions. Investigators also confirmed that that in August 2000, Wilbern filed a lawsuit against Xerox alleging that the company unlawfully discriminated against him with respect to the terms and conditions of his employment, subjected him to a hostile work environment, failed to hire him for a position for which he applied because of his race, and retaliated against him for complaining about Xerox’s discriminatory treatment. The investigation also determined that the defendant maintained checking and savings accounts at the Xerox Federal Credit Union.
The arrest and criminal complaint are the culmination of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Cohen, the Webster Police Department, under the direction of Chief Joseph P. Rieger, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Craig Hanesworth, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Patrick O’Flynn, the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli, the United States Marshals Service, under the direction of Charles Salina, and the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Sandra Doorley.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.