Treatment ordered for bank robber

Heroin addict can avoid lengthy sentence if he completes rehabilitation

Brian Wagenhals

Brian Wagenhals

KINGMAN - A 22-year-old man who admitted to trying to rob one bank and who succeeded in robbing a second later that day is being sentenced to a drug treatment program after entering into a plea deal last week.

Under terms of the agreement, Brian Jay Wagenhals will be sentenced to five years supervised probation and 18 months at a drug rehabilitation center in southern Arizona.

Wagenhals pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempted robbery and armed robbery in connection with two incidents that occurred less than a half-hour apart on June 4.

Wagenhals entered the Wells Fargo branch inside the Bashas' store on Andy Devine Avenue around 1:09 p.m. and presented a note that indicated he had a gun and demanded money. Wagenhals left without any cash after the teller hesitated and turned toward the manager of the bank for assistance.

Seventeen minutes later, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office got a call about a robbery at the National Bank of Arizona on Highway 68 in Golden Valley. Wagenhals wore a 12-inch hunting knife strapped to his side but did not threaten anyone with it. He made off with more than $600.

An anonymous tip two months after the robberies led investigators to the home of Wagenhals' girlfriend. Wagenhals' mother also positively identified her son to police based on images from bank surveillance footage.

According to county attorney Ken Skousen, Wagenhals' girlfriend, 19-year-old Jessyca Barker, waited in the car during the two incidents. She faces charges of facilitation of armed robbery. Skousen said Wagenhals and Barker have a newborn baby.

Wagenhals told prosecutors he is addicted to heroin and needed the money to pay off a drug dealer who had threatened his life, although Skousen said that Wagenhals used the money to buy more drugs.

Wagenhals will be sent to Teen Challenge, a faith-based, live-in rehabilitation center with locations in Phoenix and Tuscon. Skousen said the program boasts an 86 percent rate of getting people off of drugs, but that number only takes into account the 40 percent of people who finish the program.

If Wagenhals does not complete the full 18 months at the center, it would be a violation of his probation and he would face 10 to 15 years in prison, Skousen said.

Skousen said that in the last decade, he's seen several defendants sent to the same program. He said the opportunity would give Wagenhals a better chance of staying clean.

Wagenhals will be responsible for paying for the treatment.