A former press secretary for several members of Congress who said he robbed banks to pay for golf and rent was sentenced Monday to more than 12 1/2 years in prison.

Thomas C. Springer, 57, of Garrett Park, pleaded guilty to four counts of bank robbery in May. U.S. District Judge Deborah Chasanow also ordered him to repay the $20,869 he stole during seven bank robberies between November 2004 and November 2005.

On Nov. 30, 2005, Springer passed a note to a teller at a Kensington bank that read, "Bank Robbery." He fled with $400, but dye packs the teller placed in with the money exploded in his coat pocket as he left. A bank customer followed him, and police eventually arrested him in Wheaton.

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In his confession, Springer explained that he needed the money for golf and to cover his rent, according to the FBI.

Springer worked as a press aide to members of Congress -- including former Rep. Michael Forbes of New York in the '90s and former Rep. Toby Roth of Wisconsin in the '80s.

He was also arrested twice before for robbing banks. In 1996, Springer pleaded guilty to robbing a Vienna, Va., bank and received a 3 1/2-year federal prison term. In 1989, he was sentenced to two years in prison in Montgomery County for robbing banks.