Defendant pleads guilty to Luther bank robbery

Proposed legislation would establish community grants to assist local governments with increasing crisis response programs and diverting people with mental health conditions from jails. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Proposed legislation would establish community grants to assist local governments with increasing crisis response programs and diverting people with mental health conditions from jails. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

BALDWIN — One of two suspects on trial for an alleged bank robbery in Lake County in September has pleaded guilty.

According to a news release from the Lake County Sheriff's Office, during Lake County Trial Court on Tuesday, Nov. 8, James Paul Phipps pleaded guilty to a bank robbery charge for his involvement in the robbery of the Luther branch of the Lake-Osceola State Bank on Sept. 22, 2022.

Sentencing will take place at a later date. 

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, Timothy Fullerton, also a defendant in the case, waved his exam for a count of bank robbery and false reporting of terrorism. He was arraigned and bound over to circuit court. 

Fullerton’s bond increased to $250,000 in cash and sureties, Lake County Prosecutor Craig Cooper said. 

According to a news release from the Lake County Sheriff's Office, at 10:27 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, two subjects wearing masks entered the Lake-Osceola State Bank in Luther, about 35 miles north of Big Rapids. They gave the teller a note demanding money. After getting the money, they fled on foot.

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 by Baldwin Community Schools, which is common practice.

On Tuesday, Oct. 4, James Paul Phipps, 54, of Frasier, and Timothy Shane Fullerton, 34, of Luther, were charged with one count each of bank robbery and one count each of false report or threat of bomb or terrorism.