A high-tech tool is being credited with allowing authorities to connect two recent Twin Cities bank robberies to a fugitive with a long criminal history.

Anthony M. Rechichi, 36, of Duluth, is suspected of holding up the Hiway Federal Credit Union at Fort Snelling, and he has been labeled "a person of interest" in last week's robbery of the United Educators Credit Union in Eden Prairie, according to the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.

On top of that, the Sheriff's Office continued, Rechichi has been charged in connection with a narcotics allegation.

"He is a documented gang member, has a history of weapons violations and assaultive behavior toward law enforcement," the Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Investigators say they linked the two holdups to Rechichi, thanks to facial-recognition software that matched video surveillance images from the Fort Snelling crime to his Hennepin County jail mug shot.

The disclosure last week that the facial-recognition software pointed its investigators toward Rechichi follows lengthy efforts in court by Tony Webster, a self-employed software engineer who lives in Minneapolis, to compel the Sheriff's Office to release its e-mail communication about the technology.

Abiding by the court order, the Sheriff's Office provided Webster access to the e-mails. Webster said in a recent online posting that the e-mails "shine some light on the Sheriff's current capabilities and future plans."

Paul Walsh