BRATTLEBORO >> A man was sentenced to 3 to 8 years in prison for a bank robbery in June 2015.
Jared Fahmy, 23, of Bedford, N.H., pleaded guilty to grand larceny in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division on Tuesday.
"I just want to apologize for what I did. I regret it every day. I think about it every day," Fahmy told Judge Katherine Hayes. "I want to apologize to the young lady (bank teller). I didn't want to hurt or threaten her."
People's United Bank on Main Street was robbed at about 12:45 p.m. on June 29, 2015. According to an affidavit from the Brattleboro Police Department, the teller told police the robber handed her a note that read, "this is a robbery; give me all your 100s and 50s and no dye packets." The teller said she handed over $4,000 and pushed the hold-up alarm after the robber left the bank. Fahmy was later identified as the suspect.
In court Tuesday, Fahmy claimed he was "really messed up on drugs" at the time and had not chosen to seek the help he needed. Now, he said, his focus is on staying clean.
Fahmy said he would accept the decision of the court. He acknowledged throwing away opportunities associated with having a good family.
"I'll do what I can to make the best life I can moving forward," Fahmy told Hayes.
Edwin Vandijk, of the Vermont Department of Corrections, said Fahmy has had no altercations, positive drug tests or disciplinary issues while he's been incarcerated. Fahmy had about 14 months of credit toward the sentence.
"Is it possible for him to get drugs in the facility?" Richard Ammons, Fahmy's defense attorney, asked.
"Absolutely," said Vandijk.
Deputy State's Attorney David Gartenstein referred to robberies happening in Windham Country, although different in nature, since 2011. Six defendants received sentences of eight years, five to 28 years, four to 12 years, two to 10 years, three to 10 years, and four to 10 years.
"It's our experience that bank robbery cases are among the most dangerous and risky behavior that we see out in the community. From time to time, bank robberies might be romanticized or they might be depersonalized," Gartenstein said. "This is a core institution that everyone in the community has to interact with at one time or another. It's a natural target. The risk of violence and harm that arises when someone goes into a bank to a robbery really can't be overstated."
Hayes pointed out a maximum sentence of 10 years was attached to a grand larceny charge.
"I don't buy that the community holds our banks at a high esteem level like they do a church or mosque," said Ammons.
"We all keep our money in banks," Hayes replied.
Ammons brought attention to Fahmy's mental health issues: Fahmy was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety and severe depression. His use of heroin and substances also was discussed.
Fahmy was living in the woods when he turned himself in at the Brattleboro Police Department, according to Ammons. Fahmy had left treatment centers at the time.
"(Fahmy) could have gone anywhere. He could have stayed in the woods," Ammons told Hayes. "There was no violence in this case. Nobody was overtly threatened. The teller reported to police that he didn't threaten her in any way. He looked sad when he presented himself. He placed a note he had written. She (the teller) gave him $4,000, which is what he asked for. He just asked for 50s and 100s. He left with the cash. He walked down the street. He can tell you what he did with that if he chooses to. The generalization that people are traumatized and experienced a substantial terror, which I believe were Mr. Gartenstein's words, doesn't bear out in this case."
Ammons said Fahmy's sobriety will be a tool towards other paths like education, work and starting a family.
Hayes noted Fahmy's record contained a conviction in 2012 for theft and a drug possession charge in 2012, and his troubles with depression and "very severe heroin addiction" at the time of the robbery in Brattleboro.
"The state is correct. It is really essential to the security of the whole community that we can rely on our banks as safe places, where our assets are secure, where we can apply for loans, get credit cards, and deposit and withdraw money," Hayes said. "We all need to know it's safe to go in a bank and it's safe to leave a bank."
Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.