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A retired NYPD detective who once investigated bank robberies is a suspect in nine bank jobs, law-enforcement sources said yesterday.
Former Detective Athelston Kelson, 59, was on the wrong side of the law in the 105th Precinct last night as he was questioned for the string of heists in eastern Queens and western Nassau, the sources said.
He turned himself in, accompanied by his lawyer, earlier in the day after a news report on the robberies included a bank surveillance shot that looked remarkably like the one-time Detective's Endowment Association board member.
With more than 35 years on the force, Kelson was assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force when he retired two years ago. But he'd actually been a part of the Bank Robbery Task Force earlier in his career.
The series of stickups, which began June 12, were pulled off by a robber who became known as the "Bling Bandit" because he always wore a flashy watch and a pinky ring.
The bandit carried no weapon, but passed notes warning he had a gun.
The latest robberies were on Tuesday, at a JPMorganChase branch in West Hempstead, and on Aug. 21, at a Capital One branch in Westbury.
Former colleagues of Kelson - a decorated Vietnam War veteran - were stunned by the news, but acknowledged he was a dead ringer for the man in the surveillance video.
"I can't believe that this happened," said one retired detective who worked with him. "I can't imagine what could be happening to him."
Bette Kelson, the suspect's estranged wife, reached at her home in Columbia, SC, was shocked, but said their three-year divorce proceedings were coming to an end - with financial consequences for him.
Asked if he was in need of money, she said, "I'm sure he is, because the court just awarded me . . . oh, I can't talk about it."
She said the first caper came about the time the judgment came down.
As of last night, no official charges had been filed.

Story From: The New York Post
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