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Joseph Jose Banks, known as Secondhand Bandit, lost his own robbery case last week

Joseph 'Jose' Banks  escaped from Metropolitan Correctional Center 71 W. Van Buren St. Last week Banks told U.S. District

Joseph "Jose" Banks escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center at 71 W. Van Buren St. Last week, Banks told U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, “You’ll hear from me!” after he was found guilty of bank robbery. | FBI photo

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Updated: January 20, 2013 6:33AM



If convicted bank robber Joseph Jose Banks were a better defense attorney, he perhaps could have avoided the federal jail he escaped from early Tuesday.

Exhibiting little legal knowledge, and dressed in orange inmate jumpsuit, Banks interrupted witness testimony and shouted, “I so declare a mistrial!” less than two weeks ago in federal court.

Banks — who stole at least $589,000, of which only $56,000 was recovered — had fired his lawyers and was going it alone on charges that he violently robbed two North Side banks and attempted to rob two others.

Moments later Banks, 37, tried to walk out of the courtroom, prompting Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer to have him strapped to a wheelchair until he promised to behave — a move that Banks said made him “feel like Hannibal Lecter.”

Before being restrained, the Evanston native — known as the “Secondhand Bandit” because he wore thrift-store clothes during robberies — said he was exempt from prosecution because of his status as a sovereign “Moorish national,” a tactic that carried no weight in court.

He called no witnesses and offered no cross-examination, but repeatedly, and, at times, comically, said, “I object to everything.”

Evidence against him included DNA recovered from a fake beard; masks he allegedly used in the robberies, and $40,000 in new, sequentially numbered bills recovered from a security deposit box held in his name.

“They didn’t prove nothing!” Banks said in his closing arguments.

Jurors deliberated for just two hours before returning guilty verdicts last week. After the verdict, he said he would be “seeking retribution,” telling the judge he was unhappy she “allowed” the Chicago Sun-Times to report on his case. “You’ll hear from me!”

He then blew a kiss to his family as he was led back into the lockup.

A criminal complaint against Banks noted that he spoke in a Jamaican accent while ordering bank employees to open vaults. He also was known to dress as a construction worker in a fluorescent vest and painter’s mask.



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