Flagler County deputies on Tuesday (July 30) arrested Gary R. Rahme, a 59-year-old one-time felon and resident of 2148 Avocado Boulevard in Daytona North, on a charge of bank robbery with a gun on July 12 on U.S. 1, just south of St. Augustine.
The case was jointly investigated by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office. Rahme, who’s had several arrests and convictions in Flagler going back a dozen years, including a felony conviction on a narcotics charge, is being held at the Flagler County jail on $150,000 bond pending his extradition to St. Johns.
Armed robbery is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
According to his arrest record, Rahme entered Ameris Bank through the front door at 4070 U.S. 1 South in St. Augustine during the lunch hour on July 12. He walked up to a teller and presented a written note demanding all available cash. He lifted his shirt, exposing what appeared to be a gun. The teller handed over $12,900, according to the report.
Rahme then walked out and fled in a white Ford Focus.
He was soon identified through another surveillance video system at a nearby convenience store, wearing the same clothes and driving the same Ford Focus. The man was pumping gas. The camera detected his license plate number, which would have enabled investigators to start tracking him through so-called license plate readers, or scanners, which are in position in St. Johns and Flagler at key intersections. His arrest report merely notes that he was being additionally identified “through investigational resources,” among those the tag number returning Rahme’s identity and his address in Flagler.
That enabled detectives to get to work on his entourage in western Flagler.
“Furthermore,” the report states, “numerous witnesses provided testimony that [Rahme] has been carrying a large sum of money around with him–and allegedly admitting to some of those witnesses that he had robbed a bank. Using surveillance camera footage from the bank and the convenience store, witnesses all identified Rahme as the individual they were referring to.
In a still released by the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office, Rahme is seen standing before a teller in a turquoise blue t-shirt, dark shades and a tan baseball cap as the teller appears to be preparing a bag of money to hand to him.
Witnesses, who may have been related to Rahme or had intimate connections to him, told investigators that they had been sending sums in the $1,000 range to Rahme’s relatives through Western Union, unaware that the money was stolen.
A search warrant was served on Rahme’s house in Mondex, allegedly yielding three air powered handguns from his bedroom. The arrest report links the handguns to the description of the weapon the bank teller provided. Rahme himself would later tell investigator that he had used a plastic gun. The nature of the weapon is irrelevant in a charge of armed robbery. What matters is the perception of the victim being assailed: if the victim believes it’s a firearm, the charge follows accordingly.
When he was arrested, Rahme, all but admitting to the robbery according to the arrest report, told deputies that he was not a bad guy and had robbed the bank because his family needed money.
Rahme was unemployed at the time of the arrest. He initially told investigators that he’d found the money by the side of the road.