"Ponytail Bandit" arrested in Thailand

February 14, 2008 10:04:20 AM PST
An American woman dubbed "the ponytail bandit" and suspected in a string of bank robberies in the United States has been arrested in Thailand, police said Thursday. Immigration police caught Morgan Michelle Hoke, 21, at a Bangkok hotel following an FBI tip-off, Police Maj.-Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri said.

Her husband and alleged accomplice, 26-year-old Stuart Michael Romine, remained on the run in the Southeast Asia nation.

Hoke earned her nickname after bank surveillance video from a Texas robbery surfaced, purportedly showing her donning a University of Texas baseball cap with her ponytail hanging down her back.

Austin police say she might have robbed a bank in Lynnwood, Wash., and a bank in Roseville, Calif., in May.

Hoke was arrested at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Bangkok after the FBI notified Thai police, said Sgt. Art Arevalo of the Austin Police Department. Authorities say she and Romine flew to Thailand on Jan. 18, after a confidential informant identified Hoke to investigators in California.

"It's been a heck of a case and a heck of a chase," Arevalo told the Austin American-Statesman.

Hoke was expected to be handed to American authorities later Thursday, then extradited to the United States, Prawut and U.S. Embassy officials said.

After the first of three robberies in Texas, Hoke and Romine dashed off to Las Vegas where they were married, the newspaper reported.

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