Ben Affleck movie ‘The Town’ inspires nun disguises in bank heist
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Court Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org February 4, 2013 5:48PM
A surveillance photo of the 2011 bank robbery in Palos Heights. | Courtesy FBI
Updated: March 6, 2013 6:23AM
Ben Affleck’s 2010 movie “The Town” won critical plaudits for its tense plot involving romance at the heart of a violent heist.
Now it has a less happy claim to fame — as the inspiration for a real-life bank robbery that wrecked two young lovers’ lives.
Self-confessed stickup man and drug dealer Lyndon Germel Wesley, 28, took the stand in federal court Monday against his former fiancee, Navahcia Edwards, telling a judge that the couple got the idea to disguise themselves in nuns’ habits and masks while robbing a south suburban TCF Bank after watching “The Town” together.
“I thought we could pull it off if we did everything right,” said Wesley as his former lover glared at him across the courtroom. Under a plea deal, he’ll get a reduced sentence in return for testifying against her.
Though the couple — dubbed “nuns on the run” by the FBI — allegedly escaped with $120,000 cash and hid their faces behind masks throughout the May 2011 armed robbery, several clues linked the crime to Edwards, who worked at the Palos Heights bank, the feds say.
The robbers’ decision to empty three vaults containing bills but ignore a fourth filled with coins, suggested an inside job. Records also show that Edwards bought masks identical to those used in the robbery online, and that she went on a spending spree soon after, including a down payment on an engagement ring for Wesley.
Edwards desperately needed cash to repay $23,000 she’d previously stolen from a Chase Bank branch she also worked at, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Zell said.
But defending Edwards, attorney Charles Aron told Judge Matthew Kennelly that “the government can not prove that she was in the bank during that robbery.”
When a bank worker testified that one of the robbers had a feminine voice and manner, Aron prompted laughter by asking “Did you ever see Michael Jackson when he was alive?”
And when another bank worker said she saw the outline of a bra under one of the robbers’ habits, Aron asked, “How do you know it wasn’t a heart-rate monitor?”
He questioned Wesley’s motive for the robbery, suggesting that Wesley told a relative — former Markham Deputy Police Chief Tony Debois — that he’d really robbed the bank so he could bond his brother out of jail.
Wesley agreed that he’d compared Debois to a corrupt cop from another movie — “like Denzel Washington in ‘Training Day’.”
Prosecutors urged Kennelly to reject that evidence, saying it was not relevant.
“No, but it is interesting!” the judge said.