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03/22/2010

Illinois bank robbery suspects arrested, charged

CHICAGO - A local man and a Nebraska man accused of robbing a north suburban bank in 2009 were arrested last week on federal bank robbery charges filed in the Northern District of Illinois. The charges resulted from a joint investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI, and the Wilmette Police Department.

Sefer Hodzic, 32, of Chicago, was arrested by federal agents on March 18. A second man, Mario Besic, 37, of Lincoln, Neb., was arrested March 17 while in ICE custody in Omaha. Besic was being held by ICE pending deportation to Bosnia-Herzegovina. The men each face one count of bank robbery, a felony offense.

According to the criminal complaint, on April 4, 2009, Besic and another man entered the Fifth Third Bank located at 1255 Green Bay Rd. in Wilmette, Ill. Both men wore hooded sweatshirts, while Hodzic allegedly waited outside in a getaway car. During the robbery, two bank employees were tied up and one employee was instructed to enter the codes to open two safes. After the safes were opened, Besic and the other man took about $119,523 and fled the bank.

Subsequent investigation developed evidence linking Hodzic and Besic to the bank robbery. Hodzic is being held in federal custody pending a detention hearing March 24 in U.S. District Court in Chicago. If convicted of the charges, Besic and Hodzic each face up to 20 years in prison.

"ICE works closely with its law enforcement partners to combat crime and protect public safety," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago.

The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.