Father of shooting victim gets three years in prison for Edgerton bank robbery

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Ted Sullivan
Saturday, April 16, 2011
— Charles Aegerter Sr. served in the military, spent 42 years at General Motors and had never been convicted of a crime.

The 62-year-old Stoughton man attended college. He climbed the ranks as a GM electrician. He raised his children.

Then GM closed in 2008. Aegerter got into financial trouble. His son was fatally shot in Janesville last year.

“Just the thought of my son in a casket was enough to throw me off,” Aegerter said Friday while fighting tears in Rock County Court.

Aegerter robbed the Bank of Edgerton on Oct. 1, and he was sentenced Friday to three years in prison and seven years extended supervision for the crime. By all accounts, his actions were out of character.

“I’ve let down a lot of people,” Aegerter said. “My family, my friends, my community.”

Aegerter used a threatening note and a fake bomb in the robbery. He told investigators he wanted to commit suicide by cop because of his son’s homicide and his financial problems.

After fleeing, he gambled the money away at area casinos.

Aegerter later turned himself in, even though he had likely gotten away with it. He told investigators he surrendered because he kept thinking about how he had scared the bank tellers.

“I’m truly sorry for what happened. It’s in my mind all the time,” Aegerter told the bank tellers in court. “I’m really sorry that happened, and I can’t take that back.”

Judge James Daley said Aegerter has lived a good life, but his addictions to alcohol and gambling require rehabilitation. Daley said he didn’t believe Aegerter wanted to commit suicide by cop.

“That kind of struck hollow for me because you didn’t wait for police to show up and you went to the casino and gambled the money away,” Daley said.

Daley told Aegerter his victims will remember him forever, and he needed to be incarcerated for punishment.

District Attorney David O’Leary was sympathetic to Aegerter because Aegerter’s son, Sam, 30, of Janesville was killed June 4 after a dispute at Five Points intersection.

Yet Aegerter carefully calculated the robbery and went to great lengths to conceal his identity, O’Leary said.

Aegerter entered the bank and handed a teller a note that stated, “Don’t panic. I have a bomb in my suitcase. No alarms for at least ten min after I’m gone. Fill bag with cash no tricks or paint. Hurry,” according to the criminal complaint.

Aegerter wore a black wig, platform shoes and a blue hat during the robbery. He applied shoe glue to his fingers. He also shaved his beard after the robbery, the complaint stated.

He made a fake bomb out of wooden dowels, a light, electrical tape, a depth finder and wire, according to the complaint. He also used an igniter switch from a grill to look like a detonator.

After the robbery, he left the fake bomb in the bank and kept the igniter switch to make police think he would detonate the explosive, the complaint stated.

Officials closed streets and evacuated nearby businesses in downtown Edgerton after the robbery. The Dane County Bomb Squad used a robot to destroy the phony explosive.

“This took a lot of preplanning. This was not a snap where somebody just momentarily and temporarily did something out of the normal,” O’Leary said.

Aegerter’s attorney, Ronald Benavides of Madison, said Aegerter was a caring, loyal and generous man who deserved probation. He said Aegerter is not a typical criminal that terrorizes people.

“That’s not Mr. Aegerter,” Benavides said. “That’s not his character.”

He said Aegerter felt loss after GM closed and his son was killed. He said Aegerter was depressed. He said people were shocked at what Aegerter did.

Benavides added that Aegerter is remorseful and has accepted responsibility for his crime.

“Mr. Aegerter gave himself up,” Benavides said. “He surrendered.”

Last updated: 4:58 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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