Suspect in 'Man in Black' bank robberies claims feds out to get him due to Somalia ties


The man accused in a string of Minnesota bank robberies carried out by a man dressed in black says he is being persecuted because he sympathizes with the Islamic terrorist group al-Shabaab, the Pioneer Press reported.

Mark Edward Wetsch, 50, of Minneapolis, a former nursing home executive, is charged with 13 bank robberies that the FBI has attributed to the "Man in Black," the Pioneer Press reports. He's accused of stealing more than $69,000 from banks over 10 months beginning in March 2011. Here's the indictment.

Wetsch had pleaded not guilty, but now he is willing to plead guilty to holding up just one bank with a toy gun, the newspaper reports.

He denies committing the other robberies and claims he is the subject of an "unjust and vindictive" prosecution in part because his wife is Somali and he "has strong ties to the Somalian Community."

Prosecutors have until Jan. 29 to respond to a motion filed by Wetsch for a change of plea. Wetsch, who has served time in federal prison for mail fraud, is now representing himself, despite a lack of legal training, the Pioneer Press says.

A trial is scheduled for April 22.

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Alleged "Man in Black" pleads not guilty to 13 bank robberies

Mark Wetsch is charged with 13 counts of armed bank robbery in various towns around Minnesota. He was arrested after a robbery in Brewster, Minnesota, last month. Authorities say he referred to other robberies.