Broadcaster turned bank robber Vogelsang becomes documentary subject
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A former Winnipeg television anchor who gained further notoriety for robbing banks is back in the spotlight a year after being granted parole.
Steve Vogelsang, 59, is the subject of a documentary being filmed in Winnipeg and to be aired on Amazon Prime Video.
Vogelsang, a former CTV Winnipeg sports anchor and sports director, went on to be a journalism instructor at Red River College Polytechnic before his personal and professional life fell apart and he turned to crime. He was convicted of robbing five banks in 2017, and sentenced to a total of 6 1/2 years in prison.
The documentary is being produced by a company owned by Canadian actor Will Arnett (Arrested Development, BoJack Horseman, Lego Batman Movie).
Doug Darling, president and chief executive officer of Tripwire Media Group in Winnipeg, said he was interviewed by the documentary crew earlier this month.
Vogelsang was one of his teachers during the 2005-06 school year.
“As far as I understand, they’ve been working on it for a few years now,” Darling said Wednesday. “I was one of many people interviewed or to be interviewed. It’s a pretty big dive by them.
“They want to find out who Steve was and who he became.”
Neither Vogelsang nor anyone from Arnett’s company nor Amazon could be reached for comment.
Vogelsang worked at CTV until becoming an instructor at RRC Polytech in 2002. He left the school in 2011, to move to British Columbia with his then-wife. He struggled to find work there so, four years later, they moved back to Winnipeg.
Vogelsang was hired as a vice-president with True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd. The job only lasted a few weeks.
Two years later, broke, divorced, with credit cards maxed out and considering bankruptcy, Vogelsang walked into a bank in Regina in July 2017 and committed his first robbery.
When Vogelsang was arrested four months later, he had robbed four other banks, two more in Regina, one in Saskatoon, and one in Medicine Hat, Alta.
While serving his sentence at Drumheller Institution in Alberta, Vogelsang successfully took part in programs designed to help him after he was released.
However, in documents requested by the Free Press this week, while the Parole Board of Canada agreed Dec. 4, 2021, to release Vogelsang on Feb. 17, 2022 — his statutory release eligibility date — it wasn’t without conditions.
Vogelsang was ordered not to consume drugs, have no contact with any of his victims or their families, not to enter Manitoba without written permission from his parole supervisor, and have no contact with anyone with a current court order restraining him from having contact with them.
Vogelsang was also told he has to report any sexual and non-sexual relationships and friendships with women to his parole supervisor, as well as provide documented financial information.
“All of us in Winnipeg either know him or have heard of him. When I tell someone outside of the province that my teacher became a bank robber the reaction is almost always the same: ‘What?’–Doug Darling, president and chief executive officer of Tripwire Media Group
“Your file notes problematic relationships that have led to charges, and a restraining order, which have been violated in the past,” the four-page report says. “It will be important for your (probation officer) to know who you are in a relationship with to ensure there are not further victims.
“In the absence of these conditions, you would present an undue risk to the public.”
The parole board said the conditions, to help “protect society and to assist in your successful reintegration into the community,” were to be in effect from Feb. 17, 2022, to his warrant expiry date July 27, 2023.
“Pride, arrogance, and poor decision making led to your offending, increased marijuana use led to a decrease in your productivity, unemployment and withdrawing from supports in the past,” the report says.
“Engaging in problematic relationships and financial stress are also identified as factors that increase your risk.”
According to the parole board report, Vogelsang had been released on day parole Oct. 27, 2020, but was taken back into custody two times, after being found to have violated the rules of a community residential facility. He was caught twice smoking marijuana.
As well, the board said Vogelsang had also just been slapped with another three-year protection order after having “unwanted contact against a previous intimate partner” in November 2021.
However, the report notes Vogelsang was still able to make positive gains during day parole, including getting a job, finding a place to live, finishing more programming and staying connected to positive supports.
Darling said he still can’t believe his former teacher, who he had considered a mentor, suddenly began robbing banks. It’s a stance he relayed to the documentary crew.
“It will be intriguing to see what’s going to come of it,” Darling said. “I’m really curious.
“All of us in Winnipeg either know him or have heard of him. When I tell someone outside of the province that my teacher became a bank robber the reaction is almost always the same: ‘What?’
“Talk about a hook for a story.”
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.