Two Chicago-area men charged with trying to rob a northern Illinois bank in a foiled heist that left an accomplice dead pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in federal court.
Dressed in orange jail clothes, Roberto Favela, 34, of Chicago, and Aaron Russell, 40, of Orland Hills, sat through the short arraignment in Chicago showing little emotion.
The two men were arrested May 10 outside the Associated Bank branch in Richmond, a community of 1,900 near the Wisconsin border, after FBI agents who had been tracking them surrounded their vehicles, according to the federal complaint.
Tony Starnes, 45, of Chicago, was shot dead as he tried to flee and rammed his car into an FBI agent's car; Russell was in a back seat, a mask dangling from his neck and several guns nearby, the complaint says.
At the time, Russell and Starnes were under investigation for their suspected roles in the robbery of several Chicago-area jewelry stores and a bank in Poplar Grove, according to the complaint.
Russell allegedly told investigators after his arrest that, in the words of the complaint, "the goal was not to hurt anyone inside the bank, but that the firearms were real."
Favela and Russell pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including attempted bank robbery. If convicted on all charges, they could face a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Their next status hearing was set for Aug. 13.