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OTTAWA — There is more trouble ahead for Vernard King, the Peoria man accused of holding up Eureka Savings Bank last summer.
La Salle County prosecutors announced Thursday at a status hearing (King was not present) that federal authorities now intend to charge King with a Peoria bank robbery, too.
New federal charges against King are expected to be announced Jan. 24 at U.S. District Court in Chicago, where King recently was transferred to stand trial for the Aug. 21 robbery in Peru.
King, 42, also listed in Oglesby, faces up to 20 years in federal prison, a fine of up to $250,000 plus full restitution if convicted of bank robbery. According to federal records, King allegedly entered the Peru bank on Aug. 21 and exited with $1,360. Authorities said King “indicated” a weapon, meaning there may not have been an actual firearm brandished.
Police quickly identified and stopped the getaway car (the driver was released without charges), but King exited the vehicle on foot and fled into a wooded area in La Salle. A lengthy manhunt ensued and King was apprehended in a La Salle basement the next day.
Sources said King hatched the robbery to raise bail money for his wife, who was in fact bonded out of La Salle County Jail with “bait money” traced back to Eureka Savings.
King initially was charged with aggravated robbery in La Salle County Circuit Court, but then federal authorities announced they would prosecute him, which superseded his local indictment.
Now, La Salle County authorities are mulling over how to resolve another pending charge against King.
He was charged in October with intimidation, a Class 3 felony carrying 2-5 years in prison, for allegedly threatening to accuse a man of sexual assault unless he agreed to pay King an unspecified sum.
Thursday, chief deputy assistant state’s attorney Greg Sticka said his office is considering whether to prosecute the intimidation charge in Ottawa but instead forward the case file to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago.
The expectation, Sticka said, is that federal prosecutors could later cite the intimidation charge at King’s sentencing hearing as an aggravating factor to seek more prison time.
Sticka said his office would render a decision on that at King’s next hearing in Ottawa, set for Jan. 10.
“I think there’s a good chance the feds are going to end up with all this,” Sticka said.
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