WEST VALLEY CITY — A former U.S. Marine wanted by Sandy police in connection with a bank robbery surrendered to investigators Thursday, but not before first trying to give his side of the story.
In an exclusive interview with the Deseret News before turning himself in, Codie Carver denied he was the person who robbed Washington Mutual Bank, 7910 S. 1300 East, on Monday. He admitted, however, that he had knowledge of the robbery and that he received a share.
But in another twist, Carver said he was only trying to help others in more need than himself. All of the money he received from the robbery, he said, was given away to random homeless people in Las Vegas.
"It went to people that needed it more than corporate America," he told the News. "Kind of like Robin Hood — steal from the rich, give to the poor."
Carver also told his parents he arranged for someone else to rob the bank for him, according to a charge filed late Thursday in federal court. Carver was charged with one count of bank robbery.
Police, however, believe Carver was the lone bank robber.
During his 20- to 30-minute discussion with the Deseret News, Carver expressed his anger with "the system" and talked about how no one would help him when he was recently robbed, but how when a bank was robbed, authorities were all over the case.
His bitterness was evident when Carver's parents told him they needed to start driving to the Sandy Police Department to surrender at the designated time. "I hate the police. I hate the system. I hate them all," he said several times, noting that law enforcers should have to drive to his house if they wanted him.
Carver, however, eventually arrived with his parents in Sandy, where he was taken into custody.
Carver served a year in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps. His duties included collecting the body bags of U.S, soldiers, some of them his friends, from the battlefield, according to his mother. By the time Carver was sent home, doctors had diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder, she said.
Carver said he visited the Veterans Medical Center 10 to 15 times after he returned home and was eventually given antidepressant medication. But he said he stopped taking it because it didn't make him feel right.
Carver believed his PTSD was made into a bigger deal by the media than what it should have been. But when asked if it played any role at all in what had happened the past few days, he said, "It could have had something to do with it. … I can't say yes or no," while adding, "I'm the most honest person you'll ever meet."
Again repeating how "the system" wasn't working, Carver talked about his aunt who is taking care of his grandmother, but allegedly receiving very little federal assistance. Recently, Carver had $4,000 to $5,000 stolen from him, he said. The money was supposed to go to charities and nonprofit groups aimed at helping at-risk kids.
But Carver claimed law enforcers did little to help him.Shortly after being robbed of his money by acquaintances he thought he was helping, Carver apparently became involved in a plan to rob the Washington Mutual Bank. He said his white Durango was used. He left his mother a note the morning of the robbery, saying, "I have made a decision, and I will be leaving for a while. Sometimes you have to risk everything in order to gain anything. I have to get out of Salt Lake," according to court documents.
After the robbery, Carver drove to Las Vegas in the wanted Durango. A couple of days later, he said he did a Google search of his name and found several news stories about him and the robbery, including one from the Deseret News. He said that's when he gave his money away randomly to homeless people in Las Vegas.
"It was never about money for me. I rip money up. I don't have a dollar in my pocket right now," he said.
Carver called his family and police and told them he was going to drive back to Utah to clear up the matter and "clear my name." He said he wanted to let authorities know, "I'm not runnin'."
Despite his justification for the bank robbery, Carver seemed aware that he was in trouble with law enforcers. But still, he contended, "If I did something wrong to better someone else's life," then he was OK with it.
Carver sat in his parents' living room Thursday, a picture of him in his Marine uniform hanging above him, while his parents sat nearby and listened as he talked to the News. Immediately after the bank robbery, his parents made a public plea for Carver to surrender. They continued Thursday to support their son, while at the same time cooperating with authorities to resolve the situation.
"I'm just happy as hell he's safe," said Carver's stepfather, Carl Stens. "I'm happy he's willing to go in and take care of what needs to be taken care of. He's a young man. We all make mistakes. He has his whole life ahead of him."
Carver is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court at 10:30 a.m. Friday. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison.