Public Safety

Monticello man convicted in Springville bank robbery

Red lips tattoo helped police nab him

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Monticello man, whose distinctive tattoo of red lips helped identify him to police, pleaded guilty Tuesday to robbing a Springville bank in June.

Joseph Jay Kripner, 46, pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery in U.S. District Court. Kripner, during the plea hearing, admitted to being armed and robbing the Security State Bank on June 1.  

U.S. Chief Magistrate C.J. Williams asked Kripner if he admitted that he made statements to a bank teller, saying he would use the firearm if he didn’t receive the money.

“Yes. I said ‘Please don’t make me point this at you,’” Kripner admitted.

According to the criminal complaint, a bank teller said the robber raised his shirt to show the handle of a black gun and placed a plastic shopping bag on the counter.

He told her to put money in the bag, saying, “Don’t make me pull it and point it at you,” the complaint states. The teller put $3,988 in the bag, as the robber said, “I have nothing to lose,” according to court documents.

Authorities were aided in their arrest of Kripner by a tipster who called CrimeStoppers and identified a red Mitsubishi 3000 GT as being involved in the robbery. The bank teller also was able to identify the suspect’s clothing and tattoos on his arms and neck.

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Investigators found Kripner and a woman were the registered owners of the car. When they looked up Kripner’s Facebook profile and driver’s license photo, they matched the suspect on the surveillance footage from the bank. 

Kripner’s tattoos on his arms and neck, which has the word “Always” tattooed above red lips and the word “Loved” below the lips, could also be seen on the surveillance photos, according to court documents.

Kripner was arrested in Colorado and returned to Cedar Rapids by U.S. marshals last month.

Judge Williams told Kripner Tuesday that he faces up to 20 years in federal prison and up to five years of supervised release following any prison time.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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