Freed in murder, ailing man gets 15 years for holdup

Bank robbed 1 month after judge's leniency

September 11, 2007

A convicted murderer who persuaded a Baltimore Circuit Court judge to give him a suspended sentence because he was so sick that he could barely speak was sentenced yesterday to more than 15 years in prison for robbing a city bank of $620 a month later, federal prosecutors said.

George Robert Chaney, 45, also will have to serve three years of supervised probation when he is released, the Maryland U.S. attorney's office said.

"Mr. Chaney was granted probation in state court for murder," U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement. "He will serve over 15 years in federal prison, with no parole, for committing a bank robbery one month later."

Chaney pleaded guilty in April to second-degree murder for the 1993 killing of Mary Ann Fisher, who was found strangled with a telephone cord under her bed in the Perkins Homes public housing project in Southeast Baltimore.

One sentencing date was postponed to allow Chaney a chance to seek hospice treatment. He showed up in court in a wheelchair, barely able to speak and breathing with the aid of an oxygen tank, court officials said.

In March, Circuit Judge Martin P. Welch sentenced him to 30 years in prison, but suspended all but 28 years and eight months, meaning Chaney's prison sentence equaled the amount of time he was in jail awaiting trial. A month later, police charged Chaney with holding up the Provident Bank branch in the 2100 block of E. Monument St.

Police said he waited in line, handed a teller a holdup note demanding cash and walked out of the bank with money. A Department of Public Works employee followed him out and flagged down a passing police car.

Prosecutors said Chaney was convicted of seven bank robberies in 1995 and of murder in 1979, for which he served 13 years of a 15-year sentence.

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