Bank robber who took loot to Vegas faces sentencing
PORTSMOUTH - Federal prosecutors are recommending a 41-month prison sentence for a man who robbed the same Portsmouth bank twice within five days last fall then set off for Las Vegas to gamble some of the $6,000 he had taken.
Timothy Burke is expected to appear before a federal judge on Nov. 27, when lawyers will argue how much time he should serve for robbing the People's United Bank in Portsmouth.
Prosecutors are trying to stave off an effort by Burke, 30, of Portsmouth to have his potential sentence reduced so he can receive treatment for his drug addiction.
A pre-sentence report recommended that Burke serve a 51-to-63 month sentence for the pair of robberies. The report prepared by probation officials is being disputed by Burke, who claims his actions did not pose a "threat of death" - an aggravating factor that can increase a sentence.
The robberies happened Oct. 29 and Nov. 4, 2011. Burke entered the Islington Street bank passing notes to a teller.
Days later, he went to Las Vegas and gambled some of his ill-gotten funds before realizing there was a warrant out for his arrest, according to police. He then returned to New Hampshire and turned himself in.
"His criminal record is driven by his dependency," defense lawyer Mark Sisti said in a court motion. Sisti argued to the court in October that Burke should not receive an enhancement to his sentence because of past convictions. Burke's criminal history is made up largely of misdemeanor drug offenses dating back more than a decade, Sisti said. Burke was arrested just before the pair of bank robberies on Oct. 16 on charges of possessing heroin and marijuana. He was indicted in April on felony drug charges in Rockingham County Superior Court, but the case was later dropped following the bank robbery case, according to Sisti.
Burke pleaded guilty to the two robberies in federal court on June 8.
Prosecutors say they agree that Burke's criminal history is minor, but it shouldn't grant him an added reduction to his sentence.
"It would be inappropriate to treat him like someone who has no (or virtually no) record when this is plainly not the case," Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Aframe said in a sentencing memorandum filed Wednesday. Burke's sentence will ultimately be up to a judge.
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James A. Kimble may be reached at JKimble@newstote.com.