Janitor Michael J. Webb's Secret Life As Bank Robber Ended With Bullets, Police Say
Your co-workers may not always be what they seem. Take, for instance, the experience of the staff at an LA Fitness in Deerfield Beach, Fla., who viewed head janitor Michael J. Webb as the gym's "indispensable man, the go-to Mr. Fix-it," according to reporting by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "He was like an uncle who helped me manage this facility," said Sean Lynch, the gym's general manager.
But that avuncular image was shattered on Nov. 2 when Webb died after leading authorities in a high speed chase that, police say, ensued after the janitor robbed a bank -- for the sixth time in recent months. The 56-year-old Webb was considered by police to be one of the most "prolific serial bank-robbers in South Florida," according to the newspaper.
At one time dubbed the "Bandanna Bandit" and described by police as the "counter jumper," Webb reportedly had kept this part of his life secret for years. In one stretch between 1989 and 1990, he robbed seven banks throughout South Florida, including one for $100,000, before being captured and imprisoned.
Co-workers and neighbors said that in his time at LA Fitness, Webb opened up about a troubled past, confiding that he had spent time in jail and was estranged from two sons.
After police caught up with Webb on I-95, Broward County Sheriff's Deputy German Bickbau rammed Webb's car from behind, forcing Webb to roll out of it. Two deputies then fired at Webb, killing him.
Just four days before his death, Webb had been promoted to the facilities supervisor position at the gym. It was a way to recognize his strong performance at work.
"If the power went out, or something broke, I would call Mike and he would know exactly what to do," was how Lynch, the gym's manager, sized up his Webb's reliability.But you don't necessarily have to rob a bank to score big as a janitor.
As AOL Jobs has reported, public school janitors in New York have succeeded in securing favorable work contracts that allow them to collect two paychecks at once. Some end up making as much $140,000 a year.
One stands accused of pushing it further. Trifon Ridef was accused of claiming, from 2007 to 2010, to work two jobs at New York schools at once: A full-time night shift at Harry S. Truman High School, in addition to his regular full-time job at Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus.
According to local reports, no evidence exists proving that Ridef actually worked the two shifts that he collected payments for. He's accused of stealing $500,000. He's currently awaiting trial under the False Claims Act.
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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