March 12, 2015 / 12:11 AM / 3 years ago

Underground bunker in Washington state linked to arrested fugitive: FBI

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Authorities in Washington state have discovered an underground bunker they believe was used by a convicted bank robber who fled police custody in 2009 and evaded arrest until last year, officials said on Wednesday.

The entrance to a bunker used by convicted bank robber Bradley Steven Robinett is shown in this FBI handout photo released to Reuters March 11, 2015. REUTERS/FBI/Handout via Reuters

Bradley Steven Robinett, who was featured on the television programs “America’s Most Wanted” and “Washington’s Most Wanted,” was arrested in Oregon in June after several close encounters with police, the FBI said.

On Tuesday, authorities discovered an underground bunker in a heavily wooded area of Lake Sammamish, eight miles east of Seattle, believed to have been used by Robinett during his five years on the run, the FBI said.

The hatch of the bunker, buried behind a condominium complex, was camouflaged by plants and leaves, the FBI said. Inside, investigators found more than a dozen large storage containers, a small cot and some provisions, authorities said.

Authorities said Robinett, 46, might have also had bunkers in other states.

The FBI did not say what was held in the containers, but said in a statement the investigation “suggested Robinett had buried a cache of materials related to his crimes near Lake Sammamish in Sammamish, Washington.”

Robinett pleaded guilty in January to federal charges of escape, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle. He faces up to 12 years in prison when he is sentenced in May.

He escaped in 2009 during transfer from an Arizona federal prison to a halfway house in Washington, taking police on a car chase near Seattle before disappearing.

He had several close calls with authorities over the next five years, including with patrol officers at a park-and-ride facility in Bellevue, Washington, in late 2009.

Robinett was arrested in June in Hillsboro, Oregon, after police discovered him at a shopping mall getting into a car that had been reported stolen.

Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Cynthia Johnston

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