HELENA — John James Laverdure, accused of robbing a Helena bank last week, has still not officially made his initial appearance in Lewis & Clark County Justice Court as of Tuesday afternoon. Laverdure, 45 years old, faces charges of felony robbery and felony theft. Laverdure appeared before County Justice of the Peace Mark Piskolich on Monday but was unresponsive to the judge's remarks.
According to court documents, a man went into the Valley Bank branch on 9th Avenue on Friday afternoon wearing a mask and sunglasses. He passed a note to an employee that said, “Large bills only, no sudden movements, no police.” The employee handed the suspect the money, and he left the building.
A witness described the suspect as having a tattoo on the side of his neck. Helena police officers believed Laverdure to be the individual matching the description, having been involved in similar incidents in the past.
Court documents state that police had contact with Laverdure the day before the robbery and knew the vehicle he was driving. Officers said they found him at a gas station on Euclid Avenue and detained him. Officers found Laverdure had an envelope from the bank, containing several large-denomination bills. They also say they found clothes in his vehicle that appeared to match surveillance video of the robbery suspect.
According to the Montana Department of Corrections, Laverdure was on parole at the time of the robbery; he has felony convictions in Cascade County, Lewis & Clark County, and Silver Bow County for theft, burglary, and criminal mischief.