Original article no longer available
By Leah Hope
April 12, 2005 – The son of legendary Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko remained in federal custody Tuesday after he declined to seek a release on bond during a hearing. Robert Royko is accused of trying to rob a bank last week on Chicago’s Northwest Side.
Prosecutors say Royko used a fake bomb to try and rob the Associated Bank on North Central Avenue last Friday.
Tuesday, Royko’s wife and brother talked about his arrest.
Last week Royko reportedly said he wished his name was Smith. As family and friends struggled to figure out what lead to the Royko’s arrest Tuesday, they wished they could deal with it away from the spotlight.
“For something like this to happen, and then abruptly separate our family — no, this out of the wildest of my imagination. I could never have imagined this happening,” said Cindy Royko.
Robert Royko is the son of late, legendary writer Mike Royko. Despite his famous name, he had lived unnoticed to the public. But last Friday, federal prosecutors say Royko went to the bank on North Central, put a device on an employee’s desk, demanded money and said, “This is a bomb. I’m not joking.”
Royko was arrested by an off-duty officer and the so-called bomb turned out to be a hoax.
Robert Royko appeared before a federal judge Tuesday. He apparently gave investigators a hand-written admission that his attorney described as “not in his best interest.” His attorney is also a long time family friend.
“We don’t understand what demons brought him to this. How do you go from problems with alcohol to armed robbery?” said Patrick O’Byrne, Royko’s attorney.
Royko is a 41-year-old father of three, who lives in a small town in McHenry County. Friends and family say Royko is an alcoholic and has also been battling mental illness.
“It’s very sad. It’s very.upsetting for everybody, what Robbie’s going thru, and what his wife and kids are going through,” said David Royko, Robert’s brother.
Last Friday morning, Cindy Royko says, was a normal morning at home. Royko even made plans with the children for after school. Instead, Cindy Royko has had to tell the children what happened.
“It’s unfortunate that whatever was going on in his head at the time took him to what he had done, but I just really pray to the good lord that he receives the help that he needs,” said Cindy Royko.
Robert Royko will undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Relatives say he had been on anti-depressant medication last Friday. He faces up to 20 years in jail for the charge.