Robert Gene Bigney spent two decades in prison for robbing a bank in 1995. The police chase, car crash and shooting that occurred in South Florida Monday morning reflected the aftermath of the crime Bigney committed nearly 30 years ago.
Sheriff Gregory Tony told reporters at the scene of the shooting that the man recklessly drove through Pompano Beach and “presented a firearm” to deputies after getting out of the wrecked car in the area of Northeast Fourth Avenue and East Atlantic Boulevard.
Tony told reporters at the scene that about four officers shot the man. Bigney, 63, died.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in an email Monday night that the man shot by agents was the same person who robbed the TD Bank branch in Oakland Park earlier that day. The agency did not release additional information about the theft.
The Sheriff’s Office identified Bigney as the person involved in Monday’s incident, but did not identify the officers and did not release additional information Tuesday.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting at the request of the Sheriff’s Office, Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for FDLE, said in an email.
Broward County court records show that Bigney was arrested in 1977 on the charge of soliciting to commit armed robbery, in 1978 on the charge of carrying a concealed firearm, and in 1979 on charges of robbery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault and drug related charges.
In 1985, Bigney, then in his 20s, was a convicted felon. He was arrested on charges of robbery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in Palm Beach County, court records show.
Years later, he was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in federal prison after robbing Admiralty Bank in Jupiter in September 1995, according to federal court records. Armed with a revolver, Bigney made off with just over $5,000.
The manhunt after the 1995 robbery was similar to Monday’s, according to news reports at the time.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported that Bigney was on the run from police for 45 minutes that morning, “with gunshots and car accidents before being arrested while trying to swim across a Riviera Beach canal.” A high-ranking Jupiter police officer died of a heart attack during the chase.
Bigney displayed a gun to a bank teller and demanded money, the newspaper reported. The officers fired at Bigney’s car twice, but both bullets missed him. He was arrested after crashing the car, jumping and diving into a canal.
In November 1995, Bigney, then 36, used a weight lifting bar to escape through a window in the recreation room of the Palm Beach County Jail, running free for 14 minutes before being caught.
The Sun Sentinel reported at the time that Bigney had an “extensive criminal record” and was being held in jail on charges of bank robbery for the FBI and US Marshals in a wing where fewer inmates were kept. violent.
Bigney was released in January 2016 and returned before a federal judge shortly thereafter for violating the terms of his supervised release, according to court records, by testing positive for methamphetamine in November 2016 and leaving his home without authorization in December 2016. .
At a hearing in April 2017, defense attorney Fletcher Peacock told the judge that Bigney was a man who struggled with ADHD, self-medicated, and had successfully completed a treatment program after his release. Bigney was trying to change his life, the defense attorney said, according to a transcript of the hearing.
“It is a very difficult disease to not only diagnose, but also to treat and control,” the defense attorney told the judge, according to the transcript. “Mr. Bigney was institutionalized for 20 years and it’s very difficult to get out of an institutional setting like that and then all of a sudden he’s expected to be on the right track.”
Bigney’s brother-in-law told the judge that Bigney was working for his construction company and that he was an “excellent” employee who made a change after his time in prison. Bigney had “serious problems” when he was not taking medication for his mental disorder, his brother-in-law said at the 2017 hearing, according to the transcript.
Bigney’s sister told the judge that her brother cared for their elderly mother by cooking for her, cleaning and doing chores. His mother was looking forward to him coming home.
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“All I can tell you is what I’ve seen and how he’s doing, and I couldn’t ask anyone to take better care of her than him,” Bigney’s sister said at the hearing.
US Attorney Carmen Lineberger said at the hearing that Bigney had failed to prove during his supervised release that he could comply with the law. Ella Lineberger said her drug tests came back positive 17 times and that she had tried to tamper with the urine tests by adding bleach to the bottles, according to the transcript. Prosecutors asked the judge to jail Bigney for another two years and more time on supervised release.
“To show the court and his family that he can do the right thing because right now he’s just skating,” Lineberger said at the hearing, according to the transcript. “She is using ADHD as a crutch…”
The judge had little faith that Bigney could make a change.
“He is fantastic while he is in the residential treatment program,” the judge said. “As soon as he gets out, he jumps off the cliff.”
The judge sentenced him to two more years in federal custody. He was released in October 2018, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons records.
Information from the Sun Sentinel files was used in this report.