A 39-year-old man accused of robbing a Billings bank and threatening a teller has been charged in Justice Court.
Joseph Anthony Ferrara appeared Wednesday by video from the Yellowstone County jail and was charged with felony robbery.
He was ordered held on a $100,000 bond in connection with a robbery at First Interstate bank, 2501 Central Avenue, just after 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 21. The charge against him carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.
Ferrara walked up to a teller and handed her a note that said he didn’t want to kill anyone, but would if necessary, according to court records. The teller was instructed to take all the money from her drawers. The suspect spoke to the teller in Spanish until he said, “That’s enough.”
He left the bank with $9,847, court documents state.
He was identified about six hours after the robbery by a woman who watched a released video from the bank on the Gazette’s website, which showed a Hispanic man wearing a red T-shirt, black basketball shorts and a black baseball cap.
The woman told police at 6 p.m. that the man had stayed at her home the evening before the robbery. The next day, he asked her for a ride to First Interstate Bank so he could receive a wire transfer that he needed for a bus ride out of town.
Records say that the woman gave the man a ride to the bank and waited for him in the car. He came back outside and said the person he needed to speak to about the transfer wouldn’t be available for 15 minutes. They returned a second time and he came back out stating that person was still unavailable. Because the woman needed to get to work, she allowed Ferrara to borrow her car for the afternoon.
At 3 p.m., the woman received a phone message from Ferrara saying he was in a lot of trouble and that he told her where he had left her car.
When the woman saw the bank robbery video online later in the afternoon, she recognized the robber as Ferrara, court records state. She told police that he had been staying with her and other friends for a few weeks and gave police his cellphone number.
Ferrara is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 15.