‘River Rat’ gets 26 years in prison for Portland crimes

Serial bank robber faces charges in Clark, other Washington counties

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter

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The serial bank robber dubbed the “River Rat” was sentenced Wednesday to more than 26 years in prison for committing four armed robberies.

Alexey Perez-Hernandez, 34, of Bonney Lake, was sentenced to 26 years and two months in prison by Senior District Court Judge Robert E. Jones in U.S. District Court in Portland.

The sentencing followed four guilty pleas by Perez-Hernandez for armed robberies in the Portland-metro area.

The “River Rat” nickname was bestowed by FBI agents for Perez-Hernandez’s penchant of striking on both sides of the Columbia River. He’s accused of committing 18 armed robberies in Washington and Oregon before his arrest on Oct. 9, 2009, in the Puget Sound area.

In addition to the Portland crimes, Perez-Hernandez is charged with robberies in Clark, Pierce and King counties in Washington. The U.S. Department of Justice anticipates Perez-Hernandez will plead guilty to those crimes in the near future, according to a news release.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alan Harvey said Perez-Hernandez’s Clark County robbery cases remain open. The defendant has a review hearing Thursday to determine when he will be transported here to face charges.

In the four Portland heists, Perez-Hernandez netted nearly $25,000.

‘Unforgiveable’ crimes

During the sentencing Wednesday, the judge told Perez-Hernandez “these crimes are unforgiveable,” according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The sentence was for the following Portland robberies: Columbia State Bank on Aug. 7, 2009; Riverview Community Bank on Aug. 19, 2009; Riverview Community Bank on Aug. 26, 2009; and Albina Community Bank on Sept. 8, 2009.

Perez-Hernandez committed the armed bank robberies and his accomplice, Travis Lee Oles, planned the robberies and drove the getaway vehicle. The robberies were exceptionally aggravated, according to the Department of Justice, because Perez-Hernandez moved behind “teller row” during the robberies and in two instances jumped over the teller counter.

Oles, a Portland resident, was sentenced earlier this year for his role in the robberies. In May, he was sentenced in Clark County Superior Court to 18 years in prison and in U.S. District Court in Portland to 18 years in prison.

Oles is serving the Clark County sentence at the same time as the federal punishment, so his time behind bars won’t exceed 18 years.