Farmers National robbed again; escapee caught, charged

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By Donald Richie

An ever-growing plethora of charges are coming down the line for accused bank robber Jeffrey Pratt.

Pratt, 30, was caught Monday afternoon at Everybody's Auto Sales on New Circle Road in Lexington, after being on the run for nearly a month.

He escaped from custody in Robertson County on July 21 while being taken to court. He was there to be arraigned for theft by unlawful taking in connection to the robbery of the Integra Bank in Mt. Olivet.

After getting free of his shackles, Pratt apparently shoved a guard outside the Robertson County Courthouse on July 21, got into a car which belonged to his mother and fled. His sister, Veronica, was indicted last week for aiding him by apparently leaving the keys in the Plymouth Neon.

While on the run, his charges continued to pile.

On Aug. 5, the Harrison County Grand Jury charged him with robbing the Berry branch of Farmers National Bank on Oct. 19, 2007. Pratt was charged with second degree robbery, receiving stolen property (for allegedly stealing a moped as a getaway vehicle) and being a persistent felony offender.

At around 10 a.m. Monday, the Farmers National Bank branch on Oddville Avenue was robbed for the second time in less than six months. Details of the crime matched details from other crimes in which Pratt is accused.

By Monday afternoon, the future got a whole lot darker for Pratt.

Det. Paul Olin said the Harrison County Sheriff's Department was contacted by Kentucky State Police Sgt. Mark Burden, who had been watching a vehicle in relation to the search for Pratt.

Olin and KSP Det. Brett Kirkland intercepted the car and followed it, along with Burden, to Fayette County.

"We ended up making a traffic stop on the car with Lexington Metro, DEA and [Sheriff] Bruce Hampton," he said.

They didn't locate Pratt at the stop, but based on information gathered, proceeded to the car lot. Pratt, Olin said, was arrested there with minor incident.

"He didn't have the opportunity [to run]," he said.

Pratt was served with an arrest warrant for first degree robbery for the Monday morning event. His bond for that charge alone is $50,000. That warrant was obtained as a result of the investigation by Cynthiana Police Ptl. Scott Loechel.

Kristin Welte, who is apparently Pratt's girlfriend, was also arrested at the scene.

"There was evidence recovered at the scene... that appeared to be evidence of a crime that happened yesterday," Olin said Tuesday.

Multiple agencies were rallied to catch Pratt. Olin said the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, KSP, Lexington Metro Police and of course the sheriff's office all pitched in during Monday's arrest.

"Since the escape, I've had people committed to catching Mr. Pratt," said KSP Sgt. Bart Taylor. "As time progressed on, we started to escalate our efforts."

Pratt and Welte were transported to a DEA office for questioning and later taken to the Fayette County Detention Center.

On top of the new charge for the Cynthiana robbery, Pratt is now charged with escape second degree in Robertson County and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of marijuana in Fayette County.

The Fayette County charges were the result of a search conducted in a room at the New Circle Inn, which Pratt was apparently using as a hideout.

Pratt evidently had a network of people helping him escape by the looks of it.

Later Monday night, Olin said Steven Price volunteered to come into the sheriff's office to discuss some area crimes. At the end of that interview, Price was charged in connection with helping Pratt escape in Robertson County.

Price was turned over to the Robertson County Sheriff and subsequently lodged in the Mason County Detention Center.

According to Taylor, Welte was charged with complicity to escape second degree out of Robertson County for her alleged role in Pratt's July escape.

Monday's case continued into the hours of Tuesday morning. At just after midnight, Olin said the KSP and the sheriff's office conducted a search warrant at 4079 Oddville Sunrise Road.

"We recovered evidence that we strongly felt to be involved in a crime that was committed in Cynthiana," Olin said. "There was also possible evidence discovered from some other on-going cases the sheriff's office has open in the county."

Investigations continue into Pratt's activities. Law enforcement officials all agree there are likely to be more charges forthcoming from several agencies in several counties against several people.

"I anticipate more charges on more people," Taylor said. "When we get done, it will be interesting."

This was the second time Pratt escaped custody. In 2001, he was able to hide from police nearly two months after he jumped 15 to 20 feet from the second story of the Harrison County courthouse while in custody.

On that occasion, Pratt had been shackled as well. He had picked the lock on the restraints and taken off his prison orange jumpsuit. When he jumped from the window, he was wearing only his long-john underwear and a jacket taken from another prisoner who was in the second story holding room.

Pratt, who was dubbed the Reebok Bandit in February of 2000, was arrested two months after his escape in Lexington and was brought back to Harrison County to face escape charges.