Co-defendant in Luther bank robbery faces prison time

James Paul Phipps

James Paul Phipps

Courtesy of Lake County Sheriff's Office

BALDWIN — James Paul Phipps, co-defendant with Timothy Fullerton in the Sept. 22 robbery of the Luther branch of the Lake-Osceola State Bank, has been sentenced to prison.

After pleading guilty to a bank robbery charge Nov. 8, Phipps was sentenced a month later during Lake County Trial Court on Dec. 6. He is sentenced to serve a minimum of seven years to a maximum of 30 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections.

"A condition of his guilty plea and sentence is that Mr. Phipps must provide truthful testimony against any co-defendants," Lake County Prosecutor Craig Cooper said.

The charges stem from an incident Sept. 22 in which two suspects wearing masks entered the bank at 10:27 a.m., gave the bank teller a note demanding money, and fled on foot, according to a Lake County Sheriff Office press release.

The note also indicated there was a bomb at a school, however it did not specify which school. According to the news release, security and lockdown protocols were activated Baldwin Community Schools, which is common practice. 

In November, Fullerton waved his exam for a count of bank robbery and false reporting of terrorism. He was arraigned and bound over to circuit court, and his bond increased to $250,000 in cash and sureties, according to Cooper.