Serious Withdrawal

It was Kieran Doyle's 33rd birthday, and for once he was relaxed. Swigging beer and laughing it up with some friends at home, the burly Irishman allowed himself to forget for a while the stresses, strains and suspicions of his working life. He let his guard down. He should have known better.

Before Doyle's wife could slide a knife through his birthday cake, the shrill ring of the telephone jolted him back to the real world. It was his boss from Elyte ATM Services. There had been another burglary. He had to act fast.

Jumping into his Suzuki Samurai, lop-sided from the spare he'd been riding on since a blowout the month before, Doyle raced to the Arizona Federal Credit Union on Stapley Road and Southern Avenue in Mesa. Elyte received the signal that another one of the automatic teller machines it regularly services had been hit. Doyle needed to get there before the cops -- and before the bank that leaves Elyte in charge of its ATM money -- got a whiff of it.

Arriving in darkness, Doyle opened the machine and ran a tally; $40,000 was missing, and so were the cassettes that held the money. Grabbing his cell phone, he called an Elyte executive, who would need to show up with enough money to cover the loss and get the machine running again. But this time, he couldn't reach anyone.

"I needed to get $40,000 from the vault at work and get a crew out there before that bank found out," Doyle explains in his thick Irish accent. As the most senior member of the security team that night, Doyle made the decision to restock the ATM, and two cassettes of replacement money were quickly transported from the vault at Elyte. Now the company could handle the missing cash on its own. No police. No nosey bank managers. Just another job well done.

But Doyle's leadership in Elyte's money-shuffling was short-lived. About a month after the burglary that interrupted his birthday party in November 1999, Doyle learned that Elyte investigators were watching him, suspicious of where he got the money to buy new tires for his Suzuki.

In a confrontation at the Elyte office, Doyle shoved a receipt in their faces, showing he bought the tires right after cashing his paycheck. "All the guys were in the room at once, and I said you can have all the information you want. Next time, don't go behind my back."

It did him no good. Several weeks later, Doyle was demoted from the security team. Instead of investigating employees who were suspected of stealing from the ATMs they serviced, he was put on a malfunction crew that went around town fixing broken units. "They thought I would turn around and quit after they downgraded my job," he says. For a while, Doyle refused. But by summer, his pride would take a bigger blow.

On July 12, 2000, two Phoenix police officers rang Doyle's doorbell in Peoria, asking to search his home. Elyte had called the cops after Doyle's partner, Michael Dellheim, told them that Doyle said he planned to steal money from an ATM and threatened to kill him and his family if he told anyone. Police officers were looking for $11,920 that was missing from an ATM in a Fry's Marketplace at 35th and Peoria avenues. Dellheim told detectives that, while he never saw Doyle steal from the machine, his partner did produce several thousand dollars in cash when they got back to the truck. Doyle loaned him some of the money to buy a used car, he said, and they could find the rest of it in Doyle's gun safe at home.

When the officers arrived on Doyle's doorstep, searched the house and opened the safe, there were no stacks of $20 bills. But one detective raised his eyebrows at the handguns, rifles and ammunition Doyle kept locked up since his days in Ireland's national army.

It didn't look good for her husband, the other officer said to Doyle's wife. Doyle's blood boiled.

Fueled by the accusation against Doyle, Phoenix police continued to pursue the case. After all, Elyte's account of how the crime went down made sense to detectives: Doyle, who had the keys and codes to get into the machine, grabbed stacks of money while his partner wasn't looking, stuffed it into deposit envelopes and crammed them into a clear plastic clipboard box, which he carried back to the company truck.

But for his part, Doyle was baffled to find police on his doorstep that July afternoon. Except to buy him lunch a few times, Doyle never gave his partner any money, he says, nor did he have anything to do with burglarizing an ATM. "I just want everyone to know I never did anything wrong," he says.

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Jennifer Markley
Contact: Jennifer Markley