Air traffic controller pleads guilty to holding up banks

The Associated Press
Saturday October 27, 2001

OAKLAND — A San Francisco International Airport air traffic controller who had been struggling with a series of personal and financial problems pleaded guilty Friday to a bank robbery spree. 

Rick Lee Davis, 43, the president of the air traffic controllers’ union local, changed his plea after originally pleading innocent. He pleaded guilty Friday to six counts of bank robbery. 

Davis, nicknamed the Robust Robber because of his stocky build, was arrested Aug. 3 after a spree of nine Bay Area bank robberies over a 10-month period. Police say he made off with $40,000. 

He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 15. Davis faces a sentence of 120 years in prison. 

Davis had been working as an air traffic controller at SFO since 1998, earning $98,000 a year. In 1996, Davis was seriously hurt when his car hit a cow in Hawaii, where he had been living with his wife and two sons. Davis later divorced and filed for bankruptcy.