FAIRFIELD — A federal fugitive known as both the “Bank Robber Babe” and “Mrs. Hustler,” found holed up Friday in a Fairfield motel room, made her first court appearance Monday since U.S. Marshals snatched her up after being on the lam for more than three years.
While she was on the run, Niesha N. Jackson, 34, was featured on the CNBC program “American Greed: The Fugitives,” labeled as the “Bank Robbing Babe.” She had helped head up a scheme that bilked more than $1 million out of banks between 2006 and 2008.
When Jackson was captured at the Extended Stay America motel on Oliver Road, she had a T-shirt with “BR Babe” printed on it along with six cellphones, more than $1,000 cash, a Cartier watch and an California ID card in someone’s name, according to court records. She also had business cards with “Bank Robber Babe” and “Mrs. Hustler” emblazoned on them.
Jackson was ordered to return to court May 15.
In 2011, while out of custody on bail, she pleaded guilty to a bank fraud charge that carries up to a 30-year prison sentence. On the day of sentencing, a family member lied to Jackson’s lawyer, saying that she was in a San Leandro emergency room.
Jackson’s lawyer had already pleaded for mercy, advising the court the single mother of two young sons was also dedicated to caring for her elderly grandmother.
“(Jackson) makes a significant contribution to society by ensuring the well-being of three very vulnerable people. She has demonstrated that she is willing and able to obey the law, and is ready to turn over a new leaf,” the lawyer advised the court a few weeks before Jackson disappeared.
Jackson helped rip-off 37 banks. The organizers, including Jackson, recruited and trained runners who went to Alabama, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas using prepaid debit cards for cash advances.
Although the cards only had small amounts of money available, the runners would tell the bank tellers to call a toll-free number controlled by Jackson or a co-conspirator. Jackson, posing as a card services representative, repeatedly convinced bank employee that there were thousands of dollars available on the card, and then would instruct the teller on what buttons to press on the card terminal that overrode an automatic rejection of the transaction, enabling the transaction go through.
Jackson’s co-conspirator took a five-year plea deal shortly after his 2009 arrest. He is still locked up, according to court records.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.