PALO ALTO — A 71-year-old retired pharmacist whose legal income remained fixed as his expenses soared stands accused of sticking up two banks, holding hostages and escaping with thousands of dollars.
Charles John Swanson, who had no criminal record, apparently was desperate for cash as his rent soared in this Silicon Valley community, investigators said.
"He's on a fixed income, and it didn't even rise to the level of his rent," Palo Alto Police Det. Mike Denson said.
Swanson was arrested Saturday after allegedly waving a loaded handgun while holding up a Wells Fargo branch in nearby Woodside. At his arraignment Monday, he pleaded not guilty to bank robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.
He also faces charges of robbery and kidnapping for ransom stemming from an Oct. 9 bank job in Palo Alto. Denson said he fled with more than $10,000 in that robbery.