Youth, looks, money: They say you need at least two of those qualities to live life in the fast lane.
Billy Brymer had all three.
Also, he was smart, and the boy knew how to talk.
“I just like money and research everything I can do to make it without working,” he once texted a friend. “I’m a mastermind at making money without doing s–t. Write an e-mail, make a phone call and come up with 10k.”
Never mind that none of it was legal.
He was big and buff, six-feet-four inches tall and 240 pounds, a weightlifter who used and sold steroids. And though he was only in his early 20s, he had a luxury apartment in Tempe and a fast car.
The women noticed, and the men were filled with envy.
Jillian Bagley was just 19, an artist studying design at Arizona State University and waiting tables to make ends meet. She liked glamour. She needed a place to live.
Joel Thomas was 21, finishing up a dual degree program at ASU, working 30 hours a week at a bank and caring for his 12-year-old sister.
They both fell under Brymer’s sway.
“Whatever he told her to do, she would do it,” Thomas said of Bagley in an interview with The Arizona Republic.
She became a Millennial Bonnie to his 21st-century Clyde.
In Thomas, they found a sidekick.
Bagley said Thomas was wowed by Brymer when they met at a party.
“You’ve got money, you’ve got women,” Bagley describes Thomas as saying.
And she said Brymer responded, “Well then, you’re ready to get started.”
They started in August 2011 and by the end of February 2012, Brymer and Thomas, working with a host of stooges and flunkies, including Bagley, stole or scammed nearly $380,000 from banks where Thomas worked, according to court records.
That was their undoing.
“It’s a tough crime to get away with,” an FBI agent told The Arizona Republic.
And they all were sentenced to prison.
Brymer never spoke to The Republic. His lawyer said he shouldn’t. He doesn’t show up in the prisoner locator systems; the FBI agent said that he is in federal protective custody.
Thomas still denies conspiring with Brymer.
“It’s all on him,” Thomas said. He claims Brymer was just a big flamboyant guy he knew from parties.
“Billy Brymer didn’t even know where I lived,” Thomas told The Republic in an interview in jail.
Bagley was labeled a getaway driver in one bank job. She claimed she was just along for the ride.
“I didn’t think I was in trouble,” she said, “even up to the point where I was arrested and indicted.”
But she did three and a half years in jail and federal prison and still has to serve stints in a halfway house.
Brymer had the good luck — and the good lawyering — to get a plea deal with only a 12-year sentence.
But Thomas, the alleged inside man, went to trial and got sentenced to 49½ years in federal prison, which he is appealing. He still has to stand trial in state court for bank fraud.
Sometimes, the fast lane ends in unexpected exit ramps.