40-year sentence in robberies

December 30, 2005|By TED GREGORY | TED GREGORY,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Springfield, Ill. -- A former community leader whose series of bank robberies ended when his police officer son helped tip off authorities was sentenced to 40 years in prison yesterday.

William Alfred Ginglen, whose descent from Jaycees president, auxiliary police officer and zoning chairman to a cocaine-using desperado attracted national attention, wept at his sentencing in U.S. District Court in Springfield.

"He was so emotional that he was only able to say, `I want to apologize to everyone,'" Ginglen's attorney, Ronald Hamm, said after the hearing, at which Ginglen was also ordered to pay $56,382 in restitution. "And it took him quite a long time to compose himself to get out just that much."

Ginglen, 64, a husband, father and grandfather, pleaded guilty in July to committing seven small-town bank robberies in central Illinois from November 2003 to July 2004 that netted him about $60,000. For that plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend a prison sentence at the lower end of federal guidelines.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Chesley, who prosecuted the case, contended that Ginglen robbed the banks to support a girlfriend, her daughter and a crack-cocaine habit of $400 to $900 a week. Ginglen also spent the money on prostitutes and hotel rooms, Chesley said.

"It's definitely a severe sentence," he said after the hearing. "But he committed some very serious crimes that deserve severe punishment."

Ginglen, who had lived in Lewistown, Ill., since he was about 3 years old, shocked the community with his arrest Aug. 20, 2004, outside the girlfriend's home in Champaign.

That arrest came after one of Ginglen's sons, Peoria Police officer Jared Ginglen, read a newspaper story about the bank robberies that prompted him to visit a sheriff's Web site, where he saw bank surveillance camera photographs of the robber.

He then contacted his two brothers, and the three determined that the man in the pictures was their father. They called authorities, who arrested William Ginglen the next morning.

In a November interview, Ginglen said his crime spree and sordid lifestyle "was really a case of a severe and ongoing depression," stemming from being laid off from companies.

In a journal detailing his exploits, Ginglen wrote, "I'm in trouble and there seems to be no way out. I've tried almost everything, without success. I'm tired of borrowing from friends, and tired of rejection by employers. What can I do?"

His attorney, a high school classmate, said Ginglen was "depressed" by the sentence.

Federal law requires Ginglen to serve all of the 32-year prison sentence for brandishing a gun in the robberies. The law also requires him to serve 85 percent of the remaining eight years.

The result is that Ginglen will remain in prison for the rest of his life, unless Hamm is successful in his planned appeal. That filing would contend that the sons - specifically Jared Ginglen, as a police officer - committed an illegal search of their father's home Aug. 19, 2004, when they were looking for him after viewing the security photographs.

Yesterday, one of the sons, Clay, said he hoped the sentencing was "the first step in the final chapter in this mess."

"The whole thing is just sad," he said. "It's kind of like taking an initial pain and stretching it out to make it last a whole lot longer than it needed to."

He also said the media have "swarmed" him and his brothers in recent months. The Ginglen brothers have made several appearances on national television news shows and have been offered a movie contract.

They remain steadfast in their belief that they acted responsibly in alerting authorities to their father's crimes.

"We saved his life," Clay Ginglen said, "and we probably saved other people's lives."

Ted Gregory writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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