Polite bank robber seeks to speed up his parole, knock 2 years off prison time

April 17, 1997|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Richard Stone, a one-time corporate pilot, lost his $80,000-a-year job, developed a drug habit and took to robbing banks in the 1980s.

But even then, he was polite.

Stone would wait his turn in line at the banks and open his jacket to show the toy gun he kept in an inside pocket, and he always said "please" and "thank you" as he took cash from tellers.

"He never hurt anybody," said his 74-year-old father, Thomas Stone of Dundalk.

Richard Stone asked an Anne Arundel County circuit judge yesterday to modify the 20-year sentence he received in 1989 so he would be eligible for parole immediately rather than in the two years prosecutors say he must wait.

"This is a very unusual case, your honor," Assistant State's Attorney Fred Paone told Judge Martin A. Wolff.

Timothy Murnane, Stone's lawyer, agreed. He compared Stone's case to the movie "Falling Down," in which a seemingly ordinary man goes on a criminal rampage after a series of minor setbacks.

Stone, 45, of Baltimore was a corporate pilot and flew planes for the Air National Guard. He was married, had two children and earned $80,000 a year before he lost his job and separated from his wife in the mid-1980s, Murnane said.

He found a girlfriend who liked cocaine, and to finance their habit, he began robbing banks, Stone's family said.

He robbed 32 banks in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia from 1986 to 1988, Paone said.

Murnane said that Stone, who had attended Towson State University, turned his life around in prison, writing poetry, teaching other inmates and earning praise from prison officials for his craftsmanship as a metal worker.

"Aside from this crime spree, he's been an incredibly productive person," Murnane said.

Murnane said Judge Raymond G. Thieme meant to limit the 20-year sentence he imposed in 1989 so that Stone would be released when he completed the eight-year federal prison term he began serving the same year for armed robbery.

If Stone was given credit for time served beginning with his arrest March 23, 1988, he would be eligible for parole immediately, Murnane said.

Pub Date: 4/17/97

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