‘Jekyll And Hyde’ Bank Robber Sentenced To Nearly 20 Years
Likening the case to a “Jekyll and Hyde” movie, a federal judge Friday sentenced a first-time offender who robbed 14 banks at gunpoint to nearly 20 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge Malachy Mannion said William Fischer’s nearly two-year crime spree was one of the most “mind-boggling” and “bizarre” cases he’s ever dealt with in his legal and judicial career.
By all accounts, Fischer, 46, of Dunmore, was a hardworking family man until Dec. 1, 2015, when he pointed a gun at a teller at NBT Bank in Elmhurst Twp. and escaped with nearly $7,000.
Over the next 22 months, he would repeat the crime at 13 more banks throughout Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe and Wayne counties, netting $203,779.
“This is absolutely bizarre,” Mannion said shortly before sentencing Fischer to 19 years, seven months in prison. “It’s hard to figure out what you were thinking.”
Fischer pleaded guilty in January to 12 counts of armed bank robbery and one count of brandishing a firearm in commission of a crime of violence. He robbed a total of six banks in Lackawanna County, five in Monroe County, two in Wayne County and one in Luzerne County.
During each robbery he wore body armor and a hat and covered his face. The robberies netted amounts varying from $4,000 to $40,226. The spree ended Sept. 13, 2017, after he robbed the Peoples Security Bank and Trust in Monroe County.
The sentence was at the low end of federal sentencing guidelines, which called for a sentence of up to 22 years, eight months in prison. It was more than the 15 years Fischer’s attorney, Leo Latella, suggested in a sentencing memorandum.
At the hearing, Latella sought leniency, telling Mannion that Fischer “cracked” under mounting financial pressures he faced with having a son in college and a young child at home. He stressed Fischer never meant to hurt anyone and was extremely remorseful.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Caraballo-Garrison sought a sentence of 20 years. He acknowledged Fischer had led an upstanding life until the crimes but said the severity of the acts warranted a significant sentence.
“His crimes were planned and they were calculated,” Caraballo-Garrison said. “Fourteen times, he terrorized bank employees.”
In brief comments, Fischer apologized to the court, the victims and his family.
“I spent a lot of time in my life trying to do the right thing. I pretty much destroyed it with my actions,” he said.
Mannion said he considered Fischer’s background, the severity of the crimes and the likelihood he would commit new offenses in fashioning the sentence. He credited prosecutors for their handling of the case, noting they could have sought a life sentence.
“The truth is you got a very good deal considering what you could have faced,” he said.
In addition to the prison sentence, Fischer was ordered to pay restitution. He has been in custody since his arrest. Mannion said he will suggest Fischer be placed at a federal prison as close to home as possible.
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William Fischer was sentenced Friday for committing the following bank robberies:
• NBT Bank, Elmhurst Twp., on Dec. 1, 2015, $6,946.
• NBT Bank, Dreher Twp., on Dec. 22, 2015, $4,000.
• Community Bank, Scranton, on Jan. 13, 2016, $27,100.
• NBT Bank, Scranton, on Feb. 4, 2016, $9,136.
• NBT Bank, Dreher Twp., on Feb. 11, 2016, $19,013.
• First Keystone Community Bank, Stroudsburg, on March 21, 2016, $13,414.
• Community Bank, Scranton, on April 7, 2016, $40,226.
• First National Bank, Pocono Twp., on Oct. 3, 2016, $16,765.
• First Keystone Bank, Stroudsburg, on Oct. 27, 2016, $13,020.
• NBT Bank, Route 6, Archbald, on Dec. 15, 2016, $8,717.
• PNC Bank, West Pittston, on Jan. 26, 2017, $11,159.
• NBT Bank, Route 6, Archbald on June 8, 2017, $5,790.
• First National Bank, Pocono Twp., on Aug. 7, 2017, $11,724.
• Peoples Bank, Lehigh Twp., on Sept. 13, 2017, $16,769.