Johnson County Metro

Bank robbery suspect who reported fake Iowa City West bomb threat pleads guilty to lesser charges

Brinkmeyer also ordered to pay victim restitution

IOWA CITY — The Iowa City man who called 911 last year, saying a bomb would go off at West High School as a way to distract police while he robbed a bank, pleaded guilty to lesser charges Monday in Johnson County District Court.    

Clifton R. Brinkmeyer, 31, who was originally charged with second-degree robbery, pleaded guilty to third-degree robbery, an aggravated misdemeanor, and threat of terrorism, a felony. He admitted during the hearing that he committed the robbery at US Bank on Williams Street Jan. 19, 2016. He also admitted to making the 911 call and played a recorded message of “There is an explosive device in West High, you have 30 minutes,” as a way to distract police while he robbed the bank.

This call was made at 9:40 a.m. while school was in session, and more than 2,000 students had to be evacuated on buses while police searched the building, according to police reports. No explosive device was found in the building.    

Brinkmeyer also admitted that during the robbery, he committed assault by threatening tellers, intending to cause harm or place someone in fear.

6th Judicial District Judge Paul Miller explained the third-degree robbery charge was not in effect at the time of the robbery, but that Monday’s plea wasn’t in violation of law because there is no increased penalty or prison time. The charge of third-degree robbery wasn't in effect until July 1, 2016.     

Miller also ordered Brinkmeyer to pay victim restitution of over $5,000. Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said the restitution is for bus service and school meals, which had been prepared before the evacuation.

Lyness said at Brinkmeyer’s sentencing, the state will ask for the two-year sentence on robbery and the five-year sentence on terrorism to be run consecutively, for a total prison term of seven years.

Al Willett, Brinkmeyer’s lawyer, said he will ask for the sentences to run concurrently, for a total of five years.

As part of the plea agreement, Brinkmeyer will not ask for a suspended or deferred sentence, Lyness said.

After the bank robbery, Brinkmeyer was stopped near the bank by police, who found a plastic gun in his possession. He was later interviewed and charged.

Following Brinkmeyer’s arrest, police searched his vehicle and recovered the phone allegedly used to make the 911 call reporting the bomb threat. According to a criminal complaint, GPS and cell site information were used to confirm the phone found in Brinkmeyer’s car made the 911 call.

Brinkmeyer remains on bond pending sentencing. A sentencing hearing was to be set later Monday.

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