THE 1991 SAUGATUCK BANK ROBBERY
A RECALL OF THE EVENT WITH PAT DIEPENHORST
AND CYNTHIA SORENSEN
It was 8:10 on September 6, 1991, when Pat Diepenhorst, having arrived at the bank only 10 minutes before, heard sounds at the front door. She and Frank Wicks were had met in the parking lot to open the bank together. Suddenly, three well-dressed men crossed the bank floor heading for the office area. Except for their clear plastic masks they could have been businessmen. As she called to alert Frank Wicks, one of these men stepped off from the group, leapt over the barrier to the bank interior and quickly walked toward her. “Get down on the floor” he ordered. Pat, trying to ignore the command, continued to walk away until the man forcibly stopped her and physically forced her to kneel and then lay down. During the ensuing 10 minutes, Pat heard bags being filled and shuffling coming from the vault. She never actually saw from her vantage anyone show a gun, but the men were clearly armed. The man who forced her to the floor was pacing near her, possibly serving as a lookout. All Pat could see from her floor position was the lower part of his leg.
After what seemed a long time, she head someone say, “Let’s go!” and the men exited the bank to their waiting getaway car and driver. Pat rose and called for Frank. There was no answer. She worried that the robbers had taken him with them, perhaps as a hostage. Frank finally responded after using the phone in the vault to call the police. In a short time the bank was swarming with police detectives from the area. Cynthia Sorensen arrived for work at the bank about the same time. Both she and Pat were not allowed to leave or make calls from the bank all day and were subsequently required to take routine lie detector tests.
Both Pat and Cynthia had been employees of the bank for many years, but clear
images of this infamous day remain with them to
the present. This compelling video
interview provides some important details of the then only Saugatuck-Douglas
area bank as well as the fallout of the 1991 robbery, the biggest in
Three of the robbers were arrested within 5
years, including Francis Mazza, Eugene DeRoy and Robert “The Beak” Siegel (cousin of famed Las
Vegas founder Bugsy Siegel). It wasn’t until 17 years
after the robbery that Carmine Jannece was arrested
at age 84 in a
Pat and Cynthia also describe the development of the bank, its personnel and their work roles through the many years they both worked there. A video of the interview is available, but only one still photo.