Pinole bank robber let go from prison over snafu

March 15, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
After a violent bank robbery, police made an arrest, but now that man is back on the streets by mistake. Police are confident they arrested the right man, but a snafu in charging him, forced them to let him go.

Gary Casdell Fite Jr. is now on the FBI's most wanted list. He is believed to be armed and dangerous.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department said they did release him from the West County Detention Facility in Richmond. Timing is everything and this entire blunder revolves around just four minutes.

Bank surveillance video caught 22-year-old Fite jumping over the counter at the Mechanics Bank in Pinole. He stuck a gun to the tellers head and made off with more than $3,000. He was quickly arrested, but was back on the streets just three days later because of a missed deadline.

Law enforcement has 72 hours to file charges after an arrest or the suspect is released. The work day ends officially at 5 p.m. Fite was arrested at 4:56 p.m. on Friday, which means the district attorney had to file charges by 5 p.m. on Tuesday. For some reason, they thought they had until Wednesday.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department says Fite did not have any outstanding warrants so they had to release him.

"They should have never let him go. He obviously robbed a bank. There's evidence. Why over four minutes?" said Pinole resident Jayme Ramirez.

"Inefficiency, I think it's totally irresponsible? totally irresponsible. We have enough crazy people around," said Berkeley resident Yoram.

Contra Costa County Senior Deputy District Attorney John Cope told ABC7 News, "We took the time because we thought we had the time."

Pinole Police Chief John Hardester says his department was aware of the deadline, but he said, "On our end we should have been more definitive to push the time issue and we didn't."

Now the FBI is urgently trying to recapture a man who could be dangerous, desperate and willing to fight for the freedom that was mistakenly handed to him.

Police say Fite is 5'8", 180 lbs. and he has ties in Oakland, Antioch, Vallejo and Reno, Nevada.


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