Band-Aid bandit's family seeks to retain property

By KEVIN GRAHAM, Times Staff Writer
Published September 13, 2007

TAMPA - Relatives of the man known as the Band-Aid Bandit say in federal court papers that they deserve to keep a home where authorities found a cooler stashed with stolen bank money and disguises.

The bank robber, Rafael Rondon, is serving a sentence of 1491/2 years in prison for robbing at least 39 banks throughout the Tampa Bay area. His wife, Sandra Nicholson, submitted a handwritten note to the court last week, filing a claim for the couple's home at 1893 Vale Drive in Clermont, a 2001 Lincoln Navigator, a 1999 Chevy Blazer and a 1997 Dodge pickup truck.

"Purchase of the vehicles were made with savings and income tax returns put away throughout the years," Nicholson says in court papers. "I've made mortgage payments on the above mentioned property from the start and continue to do so at this time."

A judge ordered Rondon to forfeit his home and the Navigator, court documents say. The law gives Rondon's family the right to file a petition for the property, which will be reviewed.

Rondon's father, whose name is also Rafael, added to Nicholson's claim Monday by sending the court another letter. He said that he and his wife bought the Clermont home with Rondon and Nicholson as co-signers. Rondon's father also said he gave an advance payment check to the title company for $35,000.

"Also, I have been giving money to my son for the last five years for some home improvement done in the house," he wrote.

Emeregildo Roman, Rondon's accomplice and former brother-in-law, is serving 126 years and seven months in federal prison for his part in the bank robberies.

Kevin Graham can be reached at 813 226-3433 or kgraham@sptimes.com.