Officials: 'Mad Hatter' bank robber to plead guilty
(New Jersey - WABC, August 27, 2007) (WABC) -- The man suspected of being the serial bank robber nicknamed the "Mad Hatter" is expected to plead guilty to several bank robbery counts Wednesday, according to an official with knowledge of the case.
James Madison will acknowledge he was the hat-wearing man who robbed 18 banks in a spree that began in September and ended with his arrest June 23, according to the official.
A second official with knowledge of the case also said that Madison was expected to plead guilty Tuesday. Both officials spoke only on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the case publicly.
Madison, 50, of Maplewood, was only indicted on a single count of bank robbery following his arrest. The charge carries up to 20 years in prison.
The balding 50-year-old machinist has been held without bail since his arrest, which came 11 days after authorities said he robbed a bank in Union Township.
That heist proved to the Mad Hatter's undoing. According to police, a bank employee wrote down the license number of a black Nissan Altima used in the robbery. The Altima was traced to a woman who lives with Madison. The woman told investigators she had lent him her vehicle, authorities said.
The robbery at that Bank of America branch followed the pattern of other robberies attributed to the elusive Mad Hatter: a hat-wearing man who quietly passed a note to a teller demanding money. The FBI has said the notes were similar.
The bandit avoided arrest for months, although authorities released images from surveillance videotapes. He was nearly caught in a robbery of a Montclair bank in May after a pack of red dye exploded in a booby-trapped money bag he was carrying.
Madison's public defender, Donald J. McCauley, did not immediately return a message on Tuesday seeking comment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Shana W. Chen, who is prosecuting the case, and a spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office also did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
The FBI agent in charge of the Newark office, Weysan Dun, on Monday would only say that the investigation was continuing.
Madison spent nearly two decades in prison for murdering his girlfriend in 1986. Authorities said he struck Terry Wells with a lamp during a fight. Her body was later found in a suitcase fished out of the Passaic River.
Madison was paroled in 2005 after serving 18 years of a 40-year sentence. Authorities said he lived in a halfway house for part of 2006 and that he moved out of the house a few months before the string of robberies began last fall.
Days after his arrest, Madison granted a jailhouse interview to The Star Ledger of Newark and denied all involvement in the heists.
"I don't rob people," Madison told the newspaper. "I don't wear hats."
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