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Modern Day “Jesse James” Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison

April 25, 1985

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ A bank robber described by a federal judge as a modern Jesse James has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for a robbery spree across the West.

U.S. District Judge Harry MacLaughlin imposed the sentence Wednesday on Vadaain Dixon, 31, after his conviction on seven bank robbery charges.

″You have engaged in a pattern of lawlessness, reminiscent of Jesse James and the outlaws of the old West,″ MacLaughlin told Dixon. ″The difference is, you didn’t ride a horse.″

Dixon was convicted of taking part in three robberies in St. Paul, one in Minneapolis, and robberies in Oregon, Iowa, and Nebraska.

Court records said three of the robberies, two in Minnesota and a robbery of a West Des Moines, Iowa bank, occurred in November 1983 while he was a fugitive from a halfway house where he was awaiting sentencing for the four earlier crimes.

He was captured in Dayton, Ohio, after a bank robbery for which his wife, Cheryl, was sentenced to four years in prison in 1984.

Macon Billingsley of Minneapolis, described as Dixon’s accomplice in some of the robberies, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 1983.

Dixon, who was returned to Minnesota for trial this year, had contended that post-Vietnam combat stress was responsible for his actions.

Court records said that after his release from the U.S. Army in 1973, Dixon was convicted of several robberies and spent most of his post-service time in Stillwater Prison. He was released in December 1982.

In a brief statement to MacLaughlin, Dixon accepted responsibility for his crimes.

″Everything that has happened in my life, I have created, and I saw what I did to hurt myself and other people,″ he said. ″I can’t do anything to undo what I have done.″

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