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‘Bad Hair Bandit’ appears in court

By: Associated Press
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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A woman the FBI believes robbed as many as 20 banks throughout the West worked as a nurse at an Idaho state prison where she likely met the convicted forger who investigators say drove the getaway car. Cynthia Van Holland, 47, was arrested Monday with her husband, 26-year-old Christopher Scott Alonzo, after a bank robbery in Auburn. Authorities say Van Holland is the “Bad Hair Bandit,” who used wigs to disguise herself during bank heists in Montana, Oregon and Washington state. Alonzo, a northern Idaho resident, spent time in Idaho prisons and jails on fraud, forgery and escape convictions. Placer County sheriff’s Lt. Mark Reed said witnesses saw Van Holland jumping into a car just after a robbery in Auburn. She and Alonzo were arrested a short distance away on Interstate 80. Investigators believe Van Holland met Alonzo while he was incarcerated at an Idaho Department of Correction facility, said Jeff Ray, an Idaho prisons spokesman. From December 2005 to September 2006, Van Holland worked as a nurse for a private contractor, Correctional Medical Services, at the Idaho State Correctional Institution south of Boise. She resigned without giving a reason. Alonzo was at the same facility for about two weeks in May and June 2006 during a four-year incarceration that saw him shift prisons numerous times. He was released to parole officers near Coeur d’Alene in October 2010, two months before the robberies apparently started. The couple married March 14 in Coeur d’Alene. On the marriage license, Van Holland indicated she was living in Tacoma, Wash., the city where the series of bank holdups began in December 2010. As the Bad Hair Bandit robbed bank after bank, she went through a series of wigs and baseball hats that earned her the moniker. Tellers say she often stood in line like a normal customer, then handed a note saying she was armed and wanted cash. Van Holland doesn’t have a criminal record in Idaho, according to a check of court records. Public records show she listed Idaho addresses in Boise, Twin Falls and Jerome earlier this year. She worked at the Kootenai County Jail in northern Idaho for a private contractor as a part-time nightshift nurse starting in April, and her last day at work was just a week ago, on Aug. 10. A phone message left at what a male voice described as the “Van Holland residence” in Jerome, an agricultural town in southern Idaho’s dairy country, was not immediately returned. Alonzo had been arrested in 2002 and charged with five counts of felony forgery before pleading guilty to reduced charges. He served jail time for fraud convictions in 2004, then went to prison a year later after being found guilty of fraudulent use of a transaction card and forgery. In January 2008, Alonzo was arrested after walking away from his work-release job in Ada County, then sentenced to at least another year in prison, court records show. According to Dave Tellman, the prosecutor on the case, Van Holland and Alonzo pleaded not guilty to their charges Thursday. Both face felony charges of robbery and conspiracy. Tellman said Van Holland is scheduled for a bail review hearing at 8:30 a.m. Friday in Auburn’s jail courtroom. Van Holland and Alonzo are both scheduled for early status conferences at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 26 in the jail courtroom, Tellman said. The Journal’s Bridget Jones contributed to this story.