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Attorney says woman plans to plea guilty to bank robberies

MADISON – A Roseville, Minn. woman accused of robbing a Hudson bank and four others during a three-week, two-state crime spree will plea guilty to all the hold ups in federal court in Minneapolis, according to her attorney. Ranya Al-Huthaili, 23, was indicted Wednesday in federal court in Madison for robbing the First State Bank in Trust in Hudson on Sept. 5 and the Dairy State Bank in Menominee on Sept. 12.

Al-Huthaili hasn’t been charged in state or federal court in Minnesota yet in connection with the bank robberies in that state but her attorney, Daniel Scott, of Minneapolis, said Thursday that his client wants to plead guilty to the five robberies and be sentenced in federal court in Minnesota.

“We’re going to consolidate the Wisconsin and Minnesota cases here (federal court in Minneapolis) where she wants to enter a plea and be sentenced,” Scott said. The U.S. Attorney’s offices in Madison and Minneapolis both must agree to allow Al-Huthaili to be prosecuted in Minnesota, said Scott said. The case can’t be transferred from Madison to Minneapolis without Al-Hutahili agreeing to plead guilty, he said.

The U.S. Attorney in Madison has yet to sign the removal papers, Scott said. A call to Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Connell in Madison wasn’t returned before deadline. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Ueland in Minneapolis had no comment Thursday on the status of the case. Al-Huthaili was allegedly photographed on bank surveillance cameras in a hijab, a veil Muslim women wear over their head and shoulders, and sunglasses. She is believed to be a native of Saudi Arabia.

Authorities had alerted banks in Minnesota and Wisconsin about a veiled female robber after her first alleged bank robbery in Cologne, Minn. on Aug. 15. Dairy State Bank employees added “bait bills” in the $2,350 Al-Huthaili allegedly took after giving a teller a note  which stated, “I have a gun,” according to affidavit filed in court. The affidavit doesn’t disclose the amount taken in the Hudson bank robbery. The bills allowed authorities to trace the veiled robber to a Roseville residence. Roseville police and FBI agents then tailed Al-Huthaili from her residence to a shopping mall where she used some of the cash to buy a laptop computer, according to the affidavit.

Arrested hours after robbing the Menomonie bank, Al-Huthaili confessed to FBI agents to robbing the Hudson and Menomonie banks. She also confessed to robbing banks in Cologne, Stacy and Forest Lake, Minn. between Aug. 14 and Sept. 1, according to the affidavit. No weapon or any large amount of cash has been recovered from Al-Huthaili. Al-Huthaili remains in federal custody in Minnesota. If convicted she faces statutory maximum penalties of 25 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution per count.

By Kevin Murphy -- special to the Star-Observer