Three days before being discharged from the Navy, an Oak Harbor man helped a friend rob a bank by acting as a lookout.
Five months later, 24-year-old Dustin Gilders is serving a 41-month prison sentence and has a dishonorable discharge on his record. He pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court Oct. 1 to robbery in the first degree as an accomplice.
Judge Vickie Churchill handed him the maximum under the standard sentencing range.
Island County Chief Criminal Prosecutor Eric Ohme said Gilders was very contrite and apologized in court for his actions, but the reason he took such a great risk in helping a friend rob a bank remains unclear.
Gilders was cooperative with police. His family described him as a good man who had successful career in the Navy and that the crime was completely out of character.
Yet his actions, Ohme said, aided in a crime that had a profound impact on the lives of two bank employees who were held at gunpoint; they both asked for the maximum sentence.
One of the woman wrote in a victim impact statement that she has nightmares, is afraid to leave the house and suffers from panic attacks. She wrote that Gilders may not have shoved a gun in her face, but he allowed it to happen.
“He didn’t stop his friend from doing something everyone knows is wrong,” she wrote. “He didn’t stop to think about how the lives of those inside the bank and their families would be changed.”
Investigators say Oak Harbor resident Duane Payne enlisted Gilders to help with the April 30 robbery of Washington Federal Savings in Oak Harbor. Prosecutors charged Payne with robbery in the first degree and two counts of kidnapping in the first degree.
The police report states that Payne, armed with a handgun and wearing a black ski mask, accosted an employee at the bank and pushed his way inside.
While Payne was robbing the bank, a detective with the Oak Harbor Police Department happened to arrive nearby. Gilders, who was in a parked car, called Payne to alert him about the police.
Payne ran from the bank and was chased by the detective, and later a couple of other officers, but managed to escape, according to the report. Gilders picked up Payne and his family at a different location in town and brought them to a car dealership in Burien. Payne left the state before police caught up with him.
About a month later, Payne was picked up by police in California on a $500,000 arrest warrant. His case is still pending.