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October 10, 2012

Unaware of guideline enhancements, wanna-be federal inmate seeks only $1 in bank robbery

This local story, headlined "Police: Bank robbery note sought $1," reports on a notable (and insufficient?) effort by a person seeking three squares and a bed at the local federal prison.  Here are the details:

A local man was lodged in the county prison after he attempted to rob the AmeriServ bank branch for $1 Friday in an apparent attempt to be charged with a federal crime and placed in the federal prison at Loretto.

Jeffery M. McMullen, 50, of the 700 block of Oak Street, is charged with three robbery offenses in the incident. Two tellers thought it was a joke before a third bank employee handed him $1 and called police. He was arraigned before District Judge Michael Zungali, who ordered that McMullen must have a mental exam before he can be released from prison....

Police Sgt. Isaac Hassen alleged in a sworn affidavit that McMullen entered the bank shortly before 1:30 p.m., went to a teller, took out paper and a pen and wrote a note demanding $1. “He told her he would wait until police arrived,” Hassen said.

The teller, knowing McMullen as a regular customer, told him she didn’t understand what he wanted her to do, thinking it was a joke, the officer said.  When the suspect told her it was a robbery, she told him to go to the next window, it was alleged.  The suspect then walked to the next window, where he got angry and demanded money, it’s alleged.  The second teller also thought it was a joke, police said.

When the first teller asked him whether he wanted her to get the bank manager and started to walk away, he tried to reach into the teller’s money drawer, it was alleged.  He also told her that he wanted the police to come.  The teller was told by the suspect “to give him the money so no one got hurt,” Hassen alleged.

The police alleged that McMullen also spoke with the new accounts employee and told her he was robbing the bank for $1.  She told police that she took $1 from her purse and gave it to him, the police officer said.  McMullen was taken into custody at the bank without incident.

In the note, McMullen allegedly wrote, “FBI custody. Preferbly (sic) Loretto Pa. No press. Seal all files.”  In another note, the polite robber also allegedly wrote, “Federal bank robbery. Please hand over $1.00.”

In addition to reminding me of one of my favorite scenes from an early Woody Allen movie, this story provides still more evidence that would-be criminals still do not know how the federal sentencing system works. If the robber here wanted to ensure a lengthy stay in the federal pen, his note should have had his note ask for $1 billion and said he had a gun. Such a note would have helped ensure his federal guideline calculation include a huge increase for intended loss and for a threat of violence, and thus would help him arrange an extra long stay at the federal prison at Loretto.

October 10, 2012 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

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Comments

I don't think the article says "alleged" enough.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 10, 2012 12:43:26 PM

Or maybe he was brilliant, and knew he would be classified as a Career Offender and have his offense level controlled by his Statutory Maximum.....although using a weapon would have helped there too, so maybe not.

Posted by: USPO | Oct 10, 2012 1:31:54 PM

“FBI custody. Preferbly (sic) Loretto Pa. No press. Seal all files.”

It looks like mental health help would be most effective. Do the mandatory minimums permit that?

Posted by: George | Oct 10, 2012 2:58:14 PM

One thing prosecutors need to do is recognize when someone they're dealing with belongs in a system other than the criminal justice system.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 10, 2012 4:05:52 PM

Bill,

And when they come across you, what system would you prefer?

Posted by: anon | Oct 10, 2012 10:12:00 PM

anon --

It depends on the facts of the case. The McMullen case described in the post strikes me as an inapt candidate for the criminal justice system, although of course it's risky to reach a conclusion based just on a newspaper article.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 11, 2012 8:20:30 AM


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