Serial bank robber sentenced to 3-1/2 years

Ranya Al-Huthaili

Ranya Al-Huthaili

Ranya Al-Huthaili, 23, of Roseville was sentenced May 21 to 3-1/2 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a bank robbery spree that took place last year.

The 2008 Roseville Area High School graduate hit up five different banks between Aug. 15 and Sept. 9, 2013, each time giving a note to the teller threatening to use a gun if they did not comply, although she was unarmed.

In an extended interview with law enforcement officials, Al-Huthaili said she had stolen the money to help her boyfriend, whom she identified as Thomas Rubino, “buy himself out of his life in organized crime” in the mafia, according to the complaint. He told her he needed $50,000 to do so.

Additionally, the complaint states, Rubino claimed to have cancer and said he needed money for medication. Al-Huthaili said she believed his “tales of woe,” according to the complaint, and took out an $8,000 loan, which she gave to him.

However, Rubino continued to pressure Al-Huthaili for more money. Al-Huthaili “felt a tremendous amount of stress in her life” and turned to robbing banks as a means to continue giving him money.

According to the complaint, Al-Huthaili stole more than $20,000 total from banks across the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin, wearing a wig and sunglasses to disguise herself.

She was eventually caught after her mother, Mary Esch, called the fourth bank she had robbed to ask about a cell phone that had been left in the restroom. The bank determined the robber had been the only person in the bathroom before the call was made and were able to link the phone number to Al-Huthaili.

Investigators began surveillance of Al-Huthaili’s home after the fifth robbery and were able to track her to Rosedale Center in Roseville, where she was seen buying a laptop, which she paid for in part with five $20 bait bills. She was arrested in the parking lot, and she admitted to committing the robberies at that time.

Federal prosecutors sought a 57-month sentence, or nearly 4-3/4 years, per sentencing guidelines, arguing that had Al-Huthaili not been caught, she likely “would have continued her robbery spree,” according to court documents. Additionally, prosecutors detailed the “profound impact” Al-Huthaili’s threats had on the affected bank tellers.

At the sentencing hearing, one of the bank tellers Al-Huthaili threatened spoke, saying she thought she was going to die. Al-Huthaili apologized, and said she was ashamed of her actions.

U.S. District Court Judge Joan Ericksen told Al-Huthaili she had considered a lesser sentence, but there was no evidence she would have stopped if not caught. She will receive credit for the eight months she’s already served, and could be transferred to a halfway house after 20 months in prison.

Ericksen also ordered Al-Huthaili to repay the $20,182 that she stole.

--Johanna Holub

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