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From Saudi palace to bank robberies: Prosecutors say woman took 'dark turn'

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Her mother says back home in Saudi Arabia they lived in a crystal palace. Now the U.S. Attorney's office says Ranya Al-Huthaili should live in a prison for nearly five years.

The Star Tribune reports federal prosecutors are seeking a 57-month sentence for the 23-year-old Roseville woman who admits robbing five banks in Minnesota and western Wisconsin last year.

Al-Huthaili moved to Minnesota from Saudi Arabia with her mother at age 17. The Star Tribune says prosecutors noted her mother described their Saudi home as a palace where Ranya was attended by maids and drivers and consorted with princesses.

But from that idyllic upbringing prosecutors say Al-Huthaili took a dark turn. When she pleaded guilty in February to a Menominee, Wisc., bank robbery, she admitted that she also held up a bank in Hudson and others in Cologne, Stacy, and Forest Lake, Minn.

The Star Tribune says Al-Huthaili attributes her robbery spree to the needs of her love interest, who said he was desperate for money to pay off the Mafia and cover cancer treatments.

She's been in custody since her September arrest at the Rosedale shopping mall, where the Pioneer Press says she tried to buy a computer using traceable bills that were given to her by the Menominee bank.

Prosecutors had argued she is a flight risk. The Star Tribune said authorities claimed in February that her love interest had called Al-Huthaili's mother, asking if Ranya couldn't flee to Saudi Arabia "to make this all go away."

The story of a serial bank robber who is young, female, and – in some cases – wears a hijab was picked up by news media around the world. The London tabloid the Daily Mail was among the outlets reporting on it. Al-Arabiya dubbed her "The Unusual Suspect" and Riyadh Connect has also reported on Al-Huthaili, who has Saudi and U.S. citizenship.

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