Tampa Trial of Band-Aid Bandit Begins

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Opening statements this week in the trial of Rafael Rondon, the alleged "Band-Aid Bandit" who was arrested in 2006 after a string of 39 bank robberies in the Tampa area dating back to 2000.  The robber was dubbed the "Band-Aid Bandit" because he wore a bandage on his left cheek.  Rondon was arrested after surveillance footage showed him allegedly casing the bank in a car that witnesses identified as the one used by the robber.

It appears that the bandage was used to conceal a mole on the Bandit’s cheek.  He seems to have been concerned that he could be easily identified by the distinguishing mark, but does not seem to have considered that authorities might come to suspect there was a distinguishing mark under the Band-Aid.  (I guess being the "Band-Aid Bandit" is better than being the "Mole Bandit.")

On the other hand, identification appears to be an issue at trial, so maybe this paid off.  Rondon’s attorney, Daniel Hernandez, told jurors today that yes, his client "happens to have a mole on the left side of his face.  I submit to you that does not mean he is the Band-Aid Bandit."  But Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen Davis told them that she had lots more than just the Band-Aid/mole inference, including DNA, palm prints, oh, and a bunch of money still wrapped in bank bands that they found in Rondon’s house.  She said they would prove that Rondon was the "man behind the Band-Aid."

Compare (if you want to) Rondon’s picture at the Herald-Tribune site below with surveillance photos of the Band-Aid Bandit posted by "America’s Most Wanted."  The latter photos show the Bandit wearing what is allegedly a wig and a false we-don’t-need-no-stinking-badges mustache.  They also establish that the Bandit became significantly fatter as his career progressed.  If convicted, he may lose fat and gain muscle mass as he works out during what could be a life sentence.

Link: Herald-Tribune.com
Link: America’s Most Wanted