i-default.jpg

Man sentenced to 14 years for bank robberies

Author(s): BRETT BARROUQUERE Date: December 13, 2000 Section: News

A 46-year-old man was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison after he admitted to robbing 18 banks and credit unions in Louisiana and three other states. James L. Tasco Jr. must also pay $430,807 in restitution and serve five-years probation upon his release.

"I'm all right with this," Tasco told U.S. District Judge John V. Parker Tuesday morning. "My mind is clear now. I realize all the wrong I did. "Tasco pleaded guilty in June to 16 counts of armed bank robbery and three counts of assault of a postal carrier.

A grand jury in Alabama issued an indictment in May, charging Tasco with conspiracy, armed bank robbery and using a weapon during a bank robbery.

Tasco agreed to combine the cases and plead to all counts in Baton Rouge, according to court records.

Tasco admitted to taking part with three other men in a series of armed bank robberies from January 1997 through June 1999 and to robbing three postal carriers in Baton Rouge in 1998.

Tasco blamed drugs for his part in the robberies.

"I wanted some drugs at the time. I was in love with it," Tasco said. "I'm just thankful that, for everything I did, no one was hurt."Tasco stood before Parker dressed in an orange Rast Baton Rouge Parish Prison jump suit and shackled. As he spoke, a group of his family and friends sat in the gallery and cried.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Glen Petersen and Tasco's attorney Thomas Damico jointly requested that Tasco be shown leniency because he has cooperated with investigators.

Parker granted that request, dropping Tasco's potential sentence from 214 months to 168 months and recommending that he be placed in a prison near his family.

Tasco's cooperation has led to incriminating information on possibly as many as three people, Petersen told Parker. None of the other men were in court Tuesday, nor were they named.

The robberies started Jan. 17, 1997, in North Carolina and went on for the next 30 months in cities along the interstate highways crisscrossing the South, according to court records.

Tasco admitted to robbing the Union Planters Bank, 5950 Plank Road, Baton Rouge, in September 1998 and the Louisiana State Credit Union, 3949 North Blvd., Baton Rouge, in November 1998.

state.

The second robbery netted the men nothing because someone called police after seeing them in the van, the records state.

A third robbery about two months later netted the men $2,600, according to court records.

A Baton Rouge police officer spotted Tasco driving a stolen car on Interstate 110 in July and stopped him. He was arrested and charged with the robberies a short time later, according to court records.

"I'd like to have really been straight... all my life," Tasco said. "I'm responsible for my own actions. This is something totally new to me."

Copyright 2000 Capital City Press, Baton Rouge, La.

Our attorneys have worked throughout Louisiana and many locations nation wide Our attorneys have worked throughout Louisiana and many locations nation wide