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What you need to know for 01/19/2018

Former corrections officer begins serving time for role in bank heist

Former corrections officer begins serving time for role in bank heist

A former state corrections officer who admitted taking part in an elaborate bank robbery scheme is n
Former corrections officer begins serving time for role in bank heist
This photo from Trustco Bank surveillance video shows a man robbing the West Campbell Road Trustco Bank in Rotterdam on January 6.

A former state corrections officer who admitted taking part in an elaborate bank robbery scheme is now being held at the Schenectady County Jail.

Jeremy M. Pullen, 27, of Albany, appeared in Schenectady County Court Wednesday for an update on his case and possible sentencing.

Judge Matthew Sypniewski instead postponed the sentencing until December, but Pullen agreed to turn himself in to begin serving his time. Pullen has been free on bail since shortly after his arrest.

Pullen pleaded guilty in August to one count of third-degree robbery, a felony, for his role in the Jan. 6 heist at the Trustco Bank on West Campbell Road in Rotterdam.

Prosecutors contended Pullen took part in the planning of the robbery and intended to be the getaway driver. But on the day of the robbery, Jan. 6, he got cold feet and left.

Pullen’s co-conspirator, Zachary Dennis, 27, of Latham, went into the bank and called in a diversionary threat to a local school. Prosecutors have also said the conspirators attempted to use inside information in the heist.

As part of his plea, the judge has the discretion to sentence Pullen anywhere up to 1.5 to 4.5 years in state prison.

Sypniewski Wednesday cited a favorable pre-sentence investigation, which is prepared by the Probation Department to help judges at sentencing. The investigation recommended local jail time with probation.

The judge, however, referred to a Sept. 30 incident involving Pullen and the police that did not result in a new arrest. Neither the judge nor attorneys detailed the incident in court.

By delaying the sentencing date, Sypniewski said it would allow attorneys from both sides to look into the incident further and to make arguments, if need be.

The delay would also give the judge more information concerning Pullen’s conduct in custody.

Sypniewski indicated he won’t make his final determination until Pullen’s December sentencing.

Pullen formerly worked as a state corrections officer and part-time Catskill police officer. He resigned the state job in June 2015, about six months before the bank robbery.

His attorney, James Long, could not be reached later for comment. Long has previously said he intends to argue for a lesser sentence, saying his client took part after developing an addiction to prescription painkillers due to a knee injury.

Sypniewski has already passed sentence on co-defendant Zachary Dennis, the man who actually went into the bank and called in the school threat.

Sypniewski imposed a total term of 16 months to four years for Dennis, a term longer than even the prosecutor recommended.

Dennis expressed remorse at his sentencing last month, while his attorney, also citing drug addiction, asked for a local jail term and probation. Prosecutors asked for 1 to 3 years.

Police said Dennis phoned in the threat and investigators used information gleaned from that call to help zero in on him.

Police responded to the school and placed it on lockdown. But a sergeant also suspected something was afoot and held a couple of officers back to cover the other side of town.

Even so, Dennis got in and out of the bank quickly enough to avoid being caught at the scene.

Prosecutor William Sanderson has said the robbery investigation continues. The pair is believed to have targeted that branch with some possible inside information.

Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.

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