Prison time for robbery in Newberry

A city man who attempted to rob the M&T Bank in Newberry Dec. 28 and was apprehended in the lobby was sentenced to state prison time on Thursday.

Antwone Cormier, 27, was found guilty at trial last month of second-degree felony robbery and misdemeanor theft and receiving stolen property charges.

Cormier went into the bank with a ski mask on and handed a note to the teller that read, “Put Money in Bag Nobody Get Hurt.”

The teller handed him a bag with about $425 before Cormier was wrestled to the floor by others in the bank lobby.

On Thursday, Judge Marc Lovecchio sentenced Cormier, a 2003 Williamsport Area High School graduate and father of three, to 16 months to four years in state prison for the crimes, to run consecutive to an eight-month perjury sentence Cormier must complete from 2010. Lovecchio also made Cormier eligible for the 24-month state motivational boot camp program.

Cormier maxed out on parole violations stemming from a simple assault charge in 2008, testing positive for marijuana four times and serving 10 months.

The jury acquitted Cormier of a first-degree felony charge, since they did not see that he put those at the bank in fear of immediate bodily injury.

“When you think of a bank, you can’t help but think of bank robberies,” Assistant District Attorney Melissa Kalaus said at the sentencing hearing. “I realize the jury didn’t find him guilty of threatening immediate serious bodily injury, but you can’t prove that the bank teller wasn’t afraid in the moment when he handed over that note. He says it’s hard to get a job. Just because you can’t find employment, you don’t go and rob a bank.”

Defense attorney Robert Cronin asked the judge for a county sentence, said his client accepted responsibility, and that a dependence on Xanax pushed Cormier to the crime: “I said to the jury in the first sentence of my opening argument my client is guilty, just not of a first-degree felony.

“He was depressed, stressed because of the holidays, he was homeless with nowhere to go. He felt pills were his outlet,” Cronin continued. “But for the use of illegal narcotics, this incident wouldn’t have occurred.”

“I get a sense what drugs cause you to do things,” Lovecchio said. “I don’t buy you needed to get money to solve an anti-anxiety drug addiction.”

“I can’t send you to county prison, when county prison is shown not to have worked,” Lovecchio said. “If you’re in state prison, you’re being warehoused, there’s some programming, but not a lot … you’d be perfect for boot camp. It requires discipline, there’s vocational and educational training, and you’ll get the drug and alcohol counseling you need.”