WARRENTON, Mo. (AP) – As early week dockets go, Tuesday morning’s lineup in Warren County Circuit Court was fairly routine: drug possession, sex assaults, probation violations and other cases more than 150 in all.
But there was one outlier. A 64-year-old eastern Missouri lawyer, the product of one of St. Louis’ most exclusive private schools and Washington University law school, stood shackled at his wrists and ankles, charged with robbing a small-town bank at gunpoint and wounding a state trooper, who only survived thanks to his bulletproof vest.
Warren J. Gladders’ first court appearance was brief. After advising Associate Circuit Judge Richard Scheibe that his lawyer had stepped down because of an unspecified conflict, Gladders suggested he might need a public defender. He also mentioned a local lawyer, but it wasn’t clear that he had actually hired new counsel. The judge reset the hearing for late November.
As he was led from the courtroom back to his jail cell, Gladders mouthed “thank you” to the nine family members who lined a back row in the small courtroom, and was able to briefly visit with several after the hearing. None were willing to discuss the case.
Gladders was arrested Sept. 21 and authorities searched his Wentzville home. Police then indicated that he was a suspect in up to six other local bank robberies, including an early August holdup in Weldon Spring.
Warren County Sheriff Kevin Harrison and Prosecutor Michael Wright both declined to comment about a case that has since been turned over to the FBI. Federal charges on top of the local charges are likely.
“We are still investigating, and we still intend to fully pursue federal charges,” FBI spokeswoman Rebecca Wu said.
Public records show that Gladders grew up in the affluent St. Louis suburb of Ladue and graduated from the John Burroughs School. He graduated from Colgate University in upstate New York and the Washington University School of Law.
Gladders asked the Missouri Bar last year to have his license classified as inactive and it complied, according to the organization.
Until his arrest, Gladders was president of Apex Laundry and Dry Cleaning Equipment Co., which is located in an industrial section of St. Louis County.
Gladders is connected to another well-heeled St. Louis businessman who’s in legal trouble. His brother-in-law, Chesterfield investment adviser Don Weir, was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in federal prison and ordered to pay back $12 million to spurned investors after pleading guilty to mail fraud involving a cash of gold and rare coins, some of which he kept hidden in his basement.
Shortly before his arrest, Weir moved in with Gladders and his wife, who is Weir’s sister.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.