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August 24, 2005

Federal judge bemoans 90-year minimum sentence

As detailed in this news report from New York, US District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy yesterday bemoaned having to impose essentially a life sentence on a defendant in his 20s for his actions as the getaway driver in a series of bank robberies:

Bank robber Gregory Rose could spend the rest of his life in prison after getting a 90-year, one-month sentence Tuesday from a federal court judge who said he believed the Kirkwood man's sentence was too long.  Federal Judge Thomas J. McAvoy, sitting in Binghamton, said meting out Rose's punishment Tuesday for his role in a bank-robbing spree between 2003 and 2004 wasn't something he wanted to do. "In my opinion, the sentence is much too long," McAvoy said. "But it's not my call."...

Rose will serve three mandatory, consecutive 25-year sentences on the firearms convictions alone, even though he didn't go inside the banks that were robbed.  He had possessed a handgun in the getaway car, prosecutors said...

Rose is 22 now, and was 20 years old when he and several other older men committed a spree of armed bank robberies in three states ... from October 2003 to February 2004.  Rose was convicted by a federal court jury in February on a conspiracy charge, as well as multiple counts of bank robbery and use of a firearm during a crime of violence.  No one was harmed in the robberies, said Rose's attorney.

Notably, Judge McAvoy was perhaps especially troubled by the sentence he felt he had to impose on Rose because Rose's (more culpable) co-defendant is likely to receive a sentence less than half as long:

In each of the robberies, a lone gunman -- who prosecutors later said was Inthanousone Borihane, 25, of Johnson City -- threatened bank employees with a handgun....  Borihane could get 43 years in prison as a result of a guilty plea.

August 24, 2005 at 11:16 AM | Permalink


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Why does the Judge say "it's not my call"? When will Judges take responsibility for their actions, the way they demand Defendants do. To pass it off and say that they have no authority is bunk, and cowardly. There comes a time in everyone's life where they have to take a stand for the right thing. This Judge picked preserving his retirement instead.

Posted by: digit | Aug 24, 2005 2:14:01 PM

Digit, the judge was stating a fact: He has no authority to violate the law. To do so would not only be contrary to his oath, it would be pointless as well, as the Court of Appeals would simply reverse.

Obviously this is very different from the position defendants are in: they had the opportunity to obey the law, and chose not to.

Judge McAvoy is doing the one thing he CAN do, which is to call attention to the inequity of the sentence the law compels him to impose.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Aug 24, 2005 2:27:55 PM

Just an observation - but it seems Germans involved in the WWII concentration camps were also "obeying the law" they were to uphold, as were the priests in the Inquisition. And any of the heretics put on the rack certainly had the opportunity to obey the prevailing law. So in that sense I guess you are right...just depends on your perspective.

Posted by: tame | Aug 31, 2005 8:40:06 PM

This 90 year sentence for bank robberies is absurd. I am a criminal justice student at BCC and there are many other serious criminals (rapists, pedofiles) who get away with much lighter sentences.

Posted by: Derek Johnson | Jan 30, 2007 8:06:00 AM

I personally knew Greg - I went to high school with him. Nice guy, he was both personable and well liked. I believe he got into some mischief as any other high school student would. Although I'm not all for endangering the life of people working in a bank trying to make money to survive, I do think a 90 year mandatory sentence is way too harsh for being the getaway guy for a bank robbery. As Derek posted, people who kill, molest children, or sexually assault others get out of the "system" without such harsh penalties. The judge might have well given the poor guy a life sentence. Its hard to believe that someone who was not "directly" involved with pointing guns at people or stealing money out of the safe would incur such a harsh sentence.

Either way, I hope you make the best of the cards you're dealt with Greg. Its a shitty hand, but good luck getting yourself out of this one.

Posted by: Chris Ferrari | May 26, 2008 7:10:16 PM

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Posted by: | Oct 14, 2008 9:23:48 PM

I think the sentence was way out of line. I was a juror, we had no clue what the consequence was.

Posted by: jam | Jan 14, 2009 10:28:07 PM

Compare this to the sentence on another case where the (albany.bizjournals.com/albany/stories/2003/12/08/daily8 - [Cached]
Published on: 12/8/2003) - "The statutory maximum was 10 years in prison and $500,000 fine, but Silipigno received a lighter sentence because he made full restitution even before his indictment. He paid $7 million to cover debts to Bear Sterns and other creditors.

Judge Thomas McAvoy in U.S. District Court in Albany called Silipigno a "genuinely good individual" who committed a criminal act, but made unprecedented moves to make things right.

No Jail Time

Posted by: BAA | Jan 31, 2009 3:58:27 AM

I was a witness,from the defeness side, and never call. My name is Corynn McDonald and i was a witness to EVERYTHING. Sone, the Randizezes; GREG; ray and there was one other guy that I dont even remember. I never saw one robbery, SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much money you guys think you got it all lol, but everytime a bank was robbed i was with greg. BUT i was not with beyond that point. There was about 14 people involded in those robberies: IF your DAS were good enough they would have found out then. No point now.

Posted by: Corynn McDonald | Jun 16, 2009 10:38:47 PM


Posted by: Corynn McDonald | Jun 16, 2009 10:40:38 PM

I knew Greg for many years and he is a great person. He lived with me for a few months right befor this all went down. They gave him 90 years and everyone know that was way to much..... Son was the one going into the banks and he shot a bullet into the celling during the last robbery, and thats the same day the FBI arested them all... So that tells you they knew who was doing this, they just wanted to catch them is the act, but when that gun got shoot, that was to much and they didnt want it to go and farther. Greg if you ever read this, I love you and miss you and I hope all is well.

Posted by: Scott Briggs | Dec 27, 2010 9:35:35 AM

I find it funny that Corynn McDonald stated that she was a witness to everything but failed to remember the last persons name , with that said she don't know anything about this case. There was clear cut evidence that linked all these scums to these bank robberies , they all had major drug problems . After each heist would drive to NYC buy massive amounts of cocaine and that was their way of washing the money . He (Greg) was even stealing money off the top of each robbery without the other people involved even knowing . Worst thing of all his own so called friends , son , ray and sal all testified against Greg , he knew what he was facing and decided to be cute and take it to trial . If he cops out he's out in 10-15 years not facing 90 years . And this Briggs fellow talks a good one . He doesn't know shit either claiming he was with Greg bullshit the kid didn't even like you. Funny I just read about 3 weeks ago in the paper that Scott Briggs was arrested for breaking into a family members house and stealing jewelry to support his own drug habit , they all should be in jail and fed shit for breakfast lunch and dinner .

Posted by: Steve | Jan 24, 2012 1:33:52 PM

I totally disagree with this guy getting 90 years for only being a getaway driver and possesion of weapons basically he knew what he was getting involved with and knew the risk the person who actually robbed the banks himself knew all the factors also this is why he took a plea the fact still remains was any of the money recovered no so who cares you should of copped out dude when the FBI comes pretty much your done son they got you cop ou or never come home everybody knows this good luck with an appeal they will probably turn you and program you into a snitch and work for them

Posted by: walt | Mar 3, 2012 12:12:40 AM

This guys accomplice made us all lay on the floor of the bank and stood over us, in the lobby, with his finger on the trigger the whole time. Put his gun to the tellers foreheads as he demanded money. The tellers all quit within a couple months later. They couldn’t have someone walk in after without shaking.
Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. We will never forget that day.

Posted by: John Doe | May 19, 2020 7:27:12 PM

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