Victim of New Britain bank heist speaks out - WFSB 3 Connecticut


Victim of New Britain bank heist speaks out

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Matt Yussman (WFSB) Matt Yussman (WFSB)

He was the victim of a bank heist, strapped to a bomb and forced to steal a million dollars from the bank where he works while his 70-year-old mother was tied to bed posts.

Matt Yussman, the bank executive at the center of it all, is now speaking out about what happened, just as a second man was convicted in the crime-spree connected to the case.

Two years ago, police and bomb squad members shut down the area surrounding the Achieve Financial Credit Union in New Britain.

After everything quieted down, many thought Yussman was a liar and wanted the money for himself.

Turns out, it wasn’t the case at all, and Yussman said he was let off the hook when investigators found stacks of files on random bank executives that led them to their suspects.

“As people tell me all the time, it was like something out of a movie and basically it was, it was just like movie, unfortunately I had the lead role in it,” Yussman said.

He and his mother were kidnapped in their own Bristol home, with guns pointed at them, and forced to steal $1 million from the credit union.

“I got home at midnight from playing hockey that night and to have a guy running down my driveway pointing a gun at me, telling me he was the police, which I knew he wasn't. I figured it would be a home invasion but I didn't know what it would turn into,” Yussman said.

The men forced Yussman to drive to the credit union with a so-called bomb strapped to him. He called his boss to let him know what he was being forced to do. His boss then called police.

Police were already there when he arrived, and it turned out that the bomb was fake.

But the tables were turned on Yussman. He said investigators thought it was an inside job.

“To be honest, the 9 months after were its was worst, the suspicion, the police, the FBI coming after me, I was called in a grand jury making a case against me,” Yussman said.

Police arrested 43-year-old Michael Benanti. He was found guilty on all 23 counts in a Tennessee courtroom on Tuesday.

His partner, 45-year-old Brian Witham took a plea deal last year, ratting out Benanti.

Investigators say the two men would find random bank executives and hold their hostage to get money.

After the Connecticut incident, they moved south to prey on three Tennessee families.

They were caught in North Carolina after stealing a car belonging to the daughter of an FBI agent.

“What they did to the other families, involving small children, there was a newborn they had threatened. A 3-year-old they threatened, that to me is awful,” Yussman said.

He said he's been glued to the trial and hopes justice prevails during Benanti's sentencing in July.

He's facing 300 years in prison.

“It was quite the relief to find out the guy has been connected on all counts and I hope he spends the rest of his life in jail, which he should,” Yussman said.

The two felons knew either other after they met in federal prison, doing time together for separate robbery related crimes.

Yussman is back to work, still working for Achieve Financial Credit Union.

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