Bank robber who waited for Bellingham police to arrest him gets three months in jail

A man who waited outside for police to arrest him immediately after robbing a bank will spend three months in jail before being released to transitional housing.

Richard K. Gorton, 64, pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery on Thursday, Jan. 8. His three-month sentence to Whatcom County Jail comes with the agreement that he will be released to Sun House, a transitional housing facility in Bellingham serving people who are homeless and have behavioral health issues. While there, he will have three months to look for other living arrangements. If unsuccessful in his search for a new place, he will serve an additional 90 days in jail, according to sentencing papers filed in Whatcom County Superior Court.

On Oct. 14, 2014, Gorton handed a bank teller at Banner Bank a note that said “this is a bank robbery” and demanded $1,400, according to charging papers. After placing the money in his backpack, he walked out of the building at 1600 Cornwall Ave. and stayed put until police arrested him on suspicion of first-degree robbery.

He was not armed and apparently took no action to make the bank tellers think he had a weapon, according to charging papers.

Gorton told police that he got himself arrested because he was being evicted soon and needed a place to stay, charging papers said. At the time, Gorton was living at a subsidized apartment complex at 409 York St. run by Bellingham Housing Authority.

Gorton’s attorney, Chief Deputy Public Defender Starck Follis, said Gorton stopped paying his rent because he thought he was losing his HUD benefits, although Follis is unsure why Gorton believed this.

Documents from a civil case filed in Whatcom Superior Court show that Bellingham Housing Authority gave Gorton a 14-day notice to pay or vacate his apartment 13 days after his arrest. Gorton did not pay $212 of rent for the month of October, according to case documents. He did not respond to the notice.

Deputy Prosecutor Jim Hulbert said the circumstances of this bank robbery were unlike other cases he has been involved in. He also said he hoped any fear or trauma experienced by the bank tellers could be mitigated by the sentencing.

“It was different than your run-of-the-mill bank robbery,” Hulbert said. “The fact that he was sitting there waiting for police to arrive gave me some very real doubts about whether he wanted to get away with this or whether it was a cry for help.”

Gorton used to run a financial blog called “The Resourceful Bear Blog,” and he contributed market analysis to other websites. He had no criminal history prior to robbing the bank.