Bank Robber Appeals 27-Year Sentence; Multiple Heists Should Not Qualify Him As An ‘Armed Career Criminal’
The man who robbed a bank in Casper, and lots of banks elsewhere, last year isn't happy with his 27-year sentence in federal prison.
So James Thain filed an appeal of his sentence in U.S. District Court on Monday, citing "Inefective [sic] assistance of counsel [sic]" and an "inaccurate sentence imposed by the court."
Thain and Mindy Lawrence were charged Jan. 30, 2014, for robbing the Bank of the West on Southeast Wyoming Boulevard the day before.
Last summer, Lawrence pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting armed robbery, and was sentenced to more than seven years in prison and ordered to pay $32,896 in restitution. She has not filed a motion to vacate her sentence.
In September, Thain was sentenced to 27 years in prison and ordered to pay $51,073.66 in restitution after he pleaded guilty to 14 federal charges. Thain admitted to bank robberies in Rock Springs, Laramie and Casper, as well as nine bank and credit union robberies in Utah, all in December 2013 and January.
Now he wants the sentence vacated because he recently determined that his public defender gave him bad advice, according to the motion he filed.
"My attorney, David Wiess [sic], advised me to take a plea deal of 324 months under the gies [sic] that I was a Armed Carear [sic] Criminal (ACCA) After further review of my criminal record I do not quilify [sic] for the ACCA because I do not meet the criteria of (3) prior voilent [sic] crimes. David Wiess [sic] told me, repeatedly, and adimently [sic], that my (3) prior bank robberies qualified me. But because I was sentenced on them from the same indictment on the same day they are to be counted as (1) prior violent crime therefore making me ineligible for the ACCA."
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Freudenthal wrongly sentenced him, too, because the court did not correctly determine whether he was an armed career criminal, Thain wrote.
Weiss said he had not seen Thain's motion and declined to comment.
Thain wants the court to vacate his 27-year sentence and be given a chance at a new plea deal that doesn't apply the armed career criminal category.
For his part, he admits he made a mistake, too, "because I trusted the courts to be accurate but in reality they were way off base."