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Bank robber gets to 9-10 years in prison

Richard C. May sent to state prison after stealing over $10,000 at gunpoint

GREENFIELD — “No one can truly understand the terror we went through that day.”

Cynthia Gonzalez, in court Thursday, was recalling March 13 at her job at Greenfield Cooperative Bank when it was robbed by a masked gunman. “We were all in fear for our lives,” she told the court where she later got to see the man who pointed a gun at her get hauled off to prison.

Richard C. May, 39, pleaded guilty to five charges of armed and masked robbery, and one charge of assault with a dangerous weapon in Franklin Superior Court Thursday. His lawyer said he was an unemployed heroin addict desperate to feed his habit.

He was sentenced by Judge John Agostino to nine to 10 years in the state prison in Walpole on four of the armed robbery charges. After his release, he will be placed on probation for four years, on the remaining charge of armed and masked robbery, as well as a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon.

May was given credit for 268 days jailed while awaiting the outcome of his case.

Agostini said May will likely end up in jail “for the rest of his life” if he commits another robbery.

Though May will be released from prison in about a decade, the victims of his crimes said they will have to deal with the trauma for the rest of their lives. Several of them wrote victim impact statements to be considered in the case against May, and one read hers aloud to the court.

“No innocent person should ever know what it feels like to have a gun pointed at them,” said Gonzalez, who was joined in court by coworkers, as well as victims of May’s other robberies, and Greenfield police detectives.

May admitted to the robberies of Main Street TD Bank on Feb. 17 and March 3, and the March 13 robbery of the 277 Federal St. branch of Greenfield Savings Bank.

In court, Assistant District Attorney Carrie Russell detailed the events of the robberies, which May confirmed.

In the first, Russell said, May entered TD Bank through the rear door at about 2:40 p.m., disguised with a hood, sunglasses and ski mask. He approached a male teller, took a gun out of a magazine he was carrying and demanded money from the drawer.

He left with a little more than $2,500 in cash.

Two weeks later, May entered the same bank, in a similar disguise, and approached the same teller, gun in hand. He made off with about $2,300.

On March 13, May entered Greenfield Cooperative Bank, again wearing a hood, sunglasses and ski mask, and waving a gun. He told everyone in the bank to keep their hands off their alarms and cell phones, and separately approached three tellers, pointing his pistol at each before aiming the gun at the bank’s manager.

He took about $6,000, and left the scene in an SUV, with a witness in tow.

“I want to thank the heroic witness who followed the robber and led to his capture,” said Gonzalez.

May eluded capture that day, but police were able to track the robber to his residence. There, they found clothing worn in the robberies, and three marked bills. He was later arrested by Holyoke police, who recognized him from his mug shot.

Two charges of assault with a dangerous weapon were not prosecuted, as the prosecution and defense agreed that the offenses were included in the armed robbery charges.

May has two previous robbery convictions. He served a five- to 10-year sentence for robbery in a New Hampshire case, and received a four- to-10-year sentence after a 1995 armed robbery in the Worcester area. Russell said May violated his parole in both cases.

May’s attorney, Barry Auskern, said that his client is a product of his upbringing.

Auskern said May turned to drugs at an early age, as he grew up in an “impoverished and abusive” home. He said May has struggled with heroin addiction for years, and was clean until early this year. Auskern said May had been using heroin to self-medicate his depression and anxiety.

After missing three days of work because of his drug problem, May was let go from the temporary job, and turned to crime to feed his addiction, Auskern said.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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