East Portland serial bank robber captured

It looks as if this convicted felon’s costume wasn’t enough to keep him from going back to prison – if convicted of two new outer East Portland bank robberies …

Police search for an oddly-attired bank robber in the pouring rain on Hallowe’en day, in the Hazelwood neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Phillip Allen Nelson was a free man, twice – after serving a 60 month prison sentence for robbing a Eugene bank in August 2008. But now, the 46-year-old man is back behind bars for robbing two outer East Portland Banks.

In the first crime, Nelson stands accused of attempting rob a Wells Fargo Bank branch at 12005 S.E. Division Street on Hallowe’en morning, October 31, at 11:34 a.m.

Perhaps hoping to capitalize on people wearing Hallowe’en costumes, this man tries to stick up a Division Street Wells Fargo bank, but in his trick-or-treat effort, he walks away with no cash. PPB provided image

“East Precinct officers arrived in the area, and learned that the suspect entered the bank and demanded money from the teller,” said Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson on the day of the robbery attempt.

“But, the suspect left without obtaining any cash,” Simpson added. “The suspect did not make any threats, and did not display any weapons.”

The bank robber’s second try, along SE Division Street, this time in the Centennial neighborhood, is successful – right up to the part about making a clean getaway.

Just two days later, Nelson allegedly strolled into the U.S. Bank branch at 16002 SE Division Street, just before 1:00 p.m. on November 2.

This time, Nelson was dressed in a gray zip-up jacket with a hood, gray pants, and black gloves with gray fingertips – wearing a blue bandana over his face, and black sunglasses.

“Again, he did not display any weapons,” Simpson said.
During the second robbery, court papers recount, Nelson allegedly screamed at the teller for “more $50s and $100s”, and made off with $2,899.

Officers established a perimeter, and started a dragnet for the suspect. Officers spotted him walking out between houses in the 3300 block of SE 158th Avenue, a block north of SE Powell Boulevard. “Officers chased him on foot, eventually capturing him, and taking him into custody,” Simpson revealed.

46-year-old Phillip Allen Nelson is charged with violating the terms of his “supervised release” from prison for bank robbery, and now will be tried for two additional bank robberies – which are federal crimes. MCDC booking photo

Nelson was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) on November 2 at 5:14 p.m., on charges of Robbery in the Second Degree, Escape in the Third Degree, and Resist Arrest – in addition to being placed on a US Federal Marshall’s “Hold” for Bank Robbery.

At his arraignment, it came out that Nelson had been convicted of a bank robbery in 2008 and, after serving time, he’d committed several violations of his “supervised release”, including recently ducking out of a halfway house after a 21-day stay.

Nelson remains in custody without bail in MCDC on the Federal Hold.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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