APar 06/16 2350 Harrelson Sentenced By JEFF MEYER Associated Press Writer FARGO, N.D. (AP)
APar 06/16 2350 Harrelson Sentenced
By JEFF MEYER Associated Press Writer
FARGO, N.D. (AP) -- A man who was on the FBI's "Most Wanted"
list and admitted robbing banks in six states was sentenced
Tuesday to 34 years in prison, while an accomplice received an
Thomas G. Harrelson, 29, who has said he robbed the banks out
of frustration with his life and the government, showed no
outward reaction as U.S. District Judge Patrick Conmy handed down
"It (the sentence) may be a terrible waste but is called for
under the circumstances," said Conmy, who referred to a
psychologist's report that described Harrelson as having a
Harrelson, in a plea bargain with authorities, admitted
masterminding the robberies of nine banks in six states during a
1 1/2-year span.
He and two other people were arrested Feb. 19 after robbing
the Drayton State Bank in eastern North Dakota of $2,807. The
arrest was made after a bank employee chased the trio, who had
taken a family of four hostage.
Harrelson was sentenced to 17 years for the North Dakota
charge. He also received 15 years for each of the charges in
four other states, which will run at the same time as the North
He was given another 17 years for robbing the First National
Bank in Rossville, Ill., an incident that culminated in a
shootout between Harrelson and a police officer. No one was
injured in the gunbattle.
The North Dakota and Illinois sentences will run
consecutively. He will be eligible for parole in 15 years.
The other banks involved in the plea bargain included Worthen
Bank and Trust Co. of Little Rock, Ark.; Community State Bank of
Fowlerville, Mich.; Independent Bank of South Michigan in Leslie,
Mich.; City Bank & Trust Co. branch bank in Springport, Mich.;
First National Bank of Northwest Ohio in Fayette, Ohio; Farmers
and Merchants State Bank in Delta, Ohio; and Peoples State Bank
in Warren, Minn.
"It was a very tough sentence. The message was very clear,"
said Harrelson's attorney, William D. Yuill. Asked what the
message was, Yuill said: "That he's (Conmy) a law and order man."
U.S. Attorney J. William Roberts of Springfield, Ill., who
represented the government in the Illinois case, which was
considered separately from the others, expressed satisfaction in
Earlier, Roberts had called Harrelson a "bright, intelligent
person, but a crafty young man."
"He knowingly chose to live his life outside the law ... as a
predator," Roberts said. "This man can simply not play by the
Harrelson, who told a reporter that he once hoped to study
philosophy and teach gifted children, declined when asked by
Conmy if he wanted to give a statement to the court.
But in a series of interviews with the Grand Forks (N.D.)
Herald from his jail cell while he awaited sentencing, Harrelson
had described the many bank robberies as "a guerrilla assault
against the government."
Harrelson at one time was linked to the white supremacist
group the Aryan Nations. But Yuill said his client's only
connection with any white supremacist group was when he was
engaged to the former leader of the Michigan Ku Klux Klan.
Meanwhile, one of Harrelson's two accomplices in the Drayton
robbery was sentenced Tuesday to 11 years in prison.
Stuart Skarda was sentenced to 10 years for hostage-taking and
one year for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Skarda's attorney, Paul Sortland, has filed motions for acquittal
and a new trial.
The third defendant in the case, Cynthia Ehrlich, is serving a
six-year term in Lexington, Ky. She pleaded guilty in a plea
agreement with authorities to having committed the robbery.
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