DETROIT – A Detroit man who said he started robbing banks to pay for his mother's plumbing was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison, a lenient term from a judge who said the defendant had been an "outstanding citizen" before his crime spree.
Prosecutors wanted U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman to stick with federal sentencing guidelines, which would have given Jimmie Lee Fortune five years to six years in prison for stealing nearly $14,000 from five Michigan banks. Fortune, 29, had pleaded guilty in March, with prosecutors agreeing not to charge him with three more robberies.
Fortune had told investigators that he robbed the first bank in April 2008 to fix his mother's plumbing and get his driver's license reinstated. After that, he just kept going.
"I was so stressed and depressed," he told U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman on Tuesday. "I found it difficult to separate life from fiction."
He entered banks demanding money and yelling threats such as, "Large bills or I'll start shooting," according to the FBI. Fortune was not armed during the robberies.
Friedman received 17 letters of support for Fortune.
"Every defendant should be treated individually," the judge said. "He was an outstanding citizen before this happened."