Police: 'Bling Bandit' an ex-cop

Aug. 29, 2008 at 10:57 PM

NEW YORK, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- New York police said a serial bank robber known as the "Bling Bandit" has turned himself in and revealed his identity as a former New York police officer.

Police sources said retired Detective Athelston Kelson, 59, surrendered with his lawyer Friday at a police station in the city's Queens borough on charges of robbing seven Nassau County banks and two institutions in Queens, the New York Daily News reported Friday.

The sources said Kelson, who wore flashy gold rings and a gold watch during his alleged gunpoint robberies, may have committed the crimes in an attempt to commit suicide by police shooting following his diagnosis with inoperable liver cancer shortly after his retirement in 2005.

"He didn't hide who he was," a police source said. "He didn't wear gloves or cover his face. He was begging to be recognized and caught."

Kevin Ryan, spokesman for the Queens district attorney, said the suspect was to be arraigned on third-degree robbery charges in connection with a July heist at a Chase bank in St. Albans, N.Y., Newsday reported.

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