Episode 175: Norman Wight – Stanley Mark Rifkin Bank Theft, Arrest Warrants

Retired agent Norman Wight served in the FBI for 28 years. Initially assigned to the Lubbock Resident Agency out of Dallas, Texas, he worked fugitives and general crimes, before being transferred to the San Diego Division where he investigated white-collar and environmental crimes.

In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, Norman Wight reviews the Stanley Mark Rifkin bank theft case. Rifkin embezzled $10 million from a bank in Los Angeles via a wire transfer to Switzerland where he converted the money to diamonds before smuggling them into the United States. Based on a tip, Wight and the LA Division case agent Robin Brown arrested Rifkin and recovered the diamonds. The case tested case-law regarding the validity of exigent circumstance when executing arrest warrants.

Norm spent much of his career as the Senior Resident Agent in Vista, California, supervising eight agents who conducted investigations into a wide variety of FBI criminal violations. He was a General Police Instructor in the areas of defensive tactics, SWAT tactics, as well as a SWAT team leader involved in more than 100 tactical operations.  On March 17, 1995, in Washington, D.C., given an award by the Attorney General of the United States for contributions to environmental crimes enforcement.

Upon retirement, Norm, who holds the rank of 6th-degree black belt in the Japanese martial art of Aikido,  taught defensive tactics at the San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Academy, and also at the U. S. Navy Master-At-Arms Academy.  He has qualified as an expert witness in law enforcement on the use of force matters in California Superior Court and U. S. District Court, both as a witness for the prosecution and the defense.

Before moving to Montana, he worked cold case homicides for the Escondido California Police Department for seven years. In 2008, one of his cases was named the Latent Hit of the Year. Norm and his partner were able to solve the oldest unsolved murder case in Escondido, CA, after submitting a bloody fingerprint to IAFIS, the FBI Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

Special Agent (Retired)

Norman Wight

1967 – 1995







“The largest bank theft in US history, $10.2 million, had gone a week without even being discovered.” — Retired Agent Norman Wight

The following are links to newspaper articles about the Mark Stanley Rifkin case and case-law regarding arrest warrants:

Washington Post – 11/07/1978: Consultant Arrested in Bank Theft

New York Times – 3/27/1979: Computer Analyst Sentenced to 8 Years in Bank Theft

RIFKIN, A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY – The John Marshall Journal of Information Technology & Privacy Law Volume 2

United States v. Prescott  581 F.2d 1343 (9th Cir. 1978)

LA Times – 2/2/1979:  Key evidence ruled invalid in $10.2 million bank theft

Cont. Evidence in bank theft ruled out

Agents Norman Wight (left) and Robin Brown display cash recovered during the arrest of Mark Stanley Rifkin for a $10.2 million bank theft.











A display of the diamonds valued at more than $8 million smuggled into the US by Stanley Mark Rifkin and seized by Norm Wight and Robin Brown.









Stanley Mark Rifkin under arrest for, at the time, the biggest bank theft in US history.











Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, attempts to relive her glory days by writing crime fiction and hosting FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast available for free subscription on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, and other popular podcast apps. Her nonfiction book FBI Myths and Misconceptions: A Manual for Armchair Detectives and her FBI corruption squad police procedurals featuring Special Agent Kari Wheeler are available wherever books are sold.

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