Free Background Check News

Share this story with friends
Bookmark and Share

Free Background Check Resources: New Jersey News

Just an Average Guy

Those who knew James Madison said he had a stable life in the community. He was an active member of the Christian Love Baptist Church in Irvington, New Jersey, and was a hard-working machinist. The locals viewed him as someone polite and respectable. He was cool, calm and collected under pressure, and very sensitive to other people's needs and feelings. James Madison was in a committed relationship with a lovely woman, and made sure all her needs were met, often spoiling her with extravagances. He also took very good care of himself. He had an ongoing membership in the local fitness center, had extremely white teeth and "Paul Newman" blue eyes.

James Madison and the notorious bank robber known as the Mad Hatter were the same person. The Mad Hatter always wore hats during his robberies - from knit hats to baseball caps and bucket hats - which helped blending in with other customers and hid his face from surveillance cameras. Madison was such a believable "average guy" that the locals' suspicion often fell on innocent but less-refined town residents before it would ever occur to them to suspect him. The robber's success was attributed to his chameleon-like ability to blend in with his surroundings.

The Mad Hatter robbed 19 banks between September 2006 and July 2007, getting away with a total of approximately $80,000. He followed a pattern of striking different banks approximately every two weeks between Thursday and Sunday. Typically, he presented tellers with a written note asking for money, often threatening to use chemical weapons or a gun, but appearing very calm, polite and apologetic as he did so. When the Mad Hatter struck again on July 22, it went smoothly as before, except he made his getaway in his girlfriend's Nissan Altima, and the teller was able to record its license plate number. The police finally had a suspect in custody.

The Mad Hatter may have earned a reputation for being mild-mannered and not much of a threat, but it was soon discovered that the man in custody, 50-year-old James Madison, served 18 years in N.J. State Prison for bludgeoning his girlfriend to death in 1986. Madison was released from prison in May 2005 and the Mad Hatter's robberies began in Sept. 2006. Madison has been charged with the July 22 robbery, but police had hoped to charge him with all the robberies.

Madison initially denied his involvement in the "Mad Hatter" robberies, and called his arrest, "a case of mistaken identity." Then, James Madison admitted he's the notorious Mad Hatter bank robber. He had reached a plea bargain with authorities, and eventually plead guilty to six robberies committed by the Mad Hatter, and admitted responsibility for all 19 robberies in northern New Jersey since September 2006.

The above account is based on a true story. Background checks protect peaceful citizens from being deceived and/or harmed by a cunning criminal.