Alleged Rifle bank robber expected to plead guilty to 2nd incident after sentencing for role in Craig robbery

Thomas Phippen/Glenwood Post Independent

The suspect in a Rifle bank robbery last September failed to appear for a scheduled plea hearing Tuesday.

But he’s not on the lam — an error resulted in his courthouse ride going to the wrong prison.

Rudy Cardenas, 35, was arrested in Denver Sept. 27, 2019, on charges that he robbed banks in Rifle and Craig.

Rudy Cardenas

Cardenas is currently in Department of Corrections custody, but the 9th District Court’s writ of habeas corpus — the order that commands a person in custody be brought before the judge — went first to Moffat County, then to the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center, a Front Range prison.

“I don’t typically like to blame people, but in this case, we’ll blame the [Garfield County] sheriff’s department,” public defender Scott Troxell told the judge Tuesday.

Cardenas pleaded no contest to one charge of robbery in Moffat County on Feb. 5, and was sentenced to four years in prison, with 132 days of credit for time served in custody, according to court documents.

He is expected to take a similar plea in Garfield County as part of a concurrent sentence with the Moffat County case, Troxell said.

According to the arrest warrant, the teller at the bank in Rifle recognized the suspect immediately from a bulletin Colorado National Bank sent out following a Sept. 14 robbery at the bank’s Craig branch.

The bulletin included Cardenas’ picture from surveillance cameras in Craig, according to the teller’s statement to police.

Cardenas allegedly reached into his pocket — for a gun, the teller thought at first — and pulled out a note, written on a bank counter check, demanding cash.

Cardenas also allegedly demanded that the teller go to the second, or bottom, drawer, and demanded cash from another teller as well.

Both the Rifle and the Craig robbery proceeded similarly, with Cardenas handing the teller a note demanding cash, telling the cashier to go to the additional drawer, then walking out.

At no point in either alleged robbery did Cardenas display a weapon, according to the arrest warrant.

The two drawers at the Rifle bank were short a total of $2,981, according to the police report.

The FBI Safe Streets Task Force arrested Cardenas in the Denver metro area a few days after the alleged robbery on Sept. 27, 2019.

His plea hearing is now scheduled for March 24.

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