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Still photo from a security video shows burglars entering B&B East, 1615 Bishop Ave., after crashing into the store.

Contributed

WATERLOO – A Waterloo man and his nephew have pleaded guilty to charges they tried to take cash machines from two credit unions in May.

Federal Magistrate C.J. Williams on Thursday asked John Fitzgerald Bennett if he had helped break into the Dupaco Credit Union on Schukei Road in an attempt to steal a cash recycling machine.

“Yes, I did,” answered Bennett, 47.

Bennett also admitted to having a role in the theft of a drive-up ATM machine from the University of Iowa Community Credit Union on Tower Park Drive as he pleaded guilty to one count each of aiding and abetting credit union burglary and aiding and abetting credit union larceny in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids.

Federal Public Defender Jill Johnston said Bennett is contesting forfeiture of $57,000 in cash that investigators seized following the Tower Park crime. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Tvedt said the government will be seeking the money as part of restitution in the case.

The burglary charge carries up to 20 years in prison, and the larceny charge has a maximum sentence of 10 years. Sentencing will be at a later date.

Bennett’s plea came a day after his nephew, Cody Joe Laughlin, 26, of Gilbertville, entered a similar plea in U.S. District Court on Wednesday.

Authorities allege Bennett and Laughlin stole vehicles that they then crashed into conveniences stores including the Texas Street Mart, Prime Mart and B&B East in addition to credit unions in a search for cash machines in May.

In the Dupaco heist, they allegedly crashed a truck into a door in the early morning hours of May 25 and then drove off. When police didn’t arrive, they returned and attached a chain to a cash recycling machine that held $85,000 and tried to pull the machine out of the building, court records state. They left after they were unable to load the machine into the truck, records state.

The drive-up ATM at the University of Iowa Community Credit Union contained $57,657 and was removed after Bennett allegedly took a forklift from a nearby construction site and used it to load the machine into the vehicle, records state.

One of the stolen vehicles was later set on fire and others were rolled into the Cedar River at the Gilbertville boat ramp, according to police.

The two are also awaiting trial on state burglary and theft charges stemming from the spree, and Bennett’s son, Brian John Bennett, has also been charged in state court and is awaiting trial.

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Police and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Courier

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