Urbana bank robber gets 15 years

Urbana bank robber gets 15 years

URBANA — An Urbana man with a lengthy criminal history related to stealing was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison for robbing a bank with a pellet gun.

Larry Graham, 50, whose last known address was in the 1100 block of Lanore Drive, pleaded guilty in December to aggravated robbery. He admitted that on Aug. 21, he entered Busey Bank, 2710 Philo Road, U, wearing a mask and demanded cash from a teller while showing the butt of a gun.

The bank robbery is the most serious of his convictions, whic began in 1985. He had four for burglary, three for residential burglary and one for attempted burglary. He was sentenced to prison four previous times.

Assistant State's Attorney Dan Clifton asked Judge Tom Difanis to sentence Graham to the 18 years in prison that Clifton said he would limit his recommendation to when Graham pleaded guilty last month.

"He commits the same offense over and over when he's released," said Clifton, addiing that a legthy prison term appeared to be the only thing that would deter Graham.

But Graham's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Stephanie Corum, sought an eight-year sentence, calling her client "one of the most ineffective criminals I've ever met."

Corum argued that Graham's depression and other mental issues left him feeling like his only choice to escape a bad living situation last summer was to rob a bank for cash so he could leave town.

She noted that his mother gave him alcohol as a baby and later taught him and his sister to steal food and clothing.

Corum said Graham admitted his guilt to police from the minute he was caught.

"All he wanted me to do was minimize the damage," Corum said.

Graham declined to make a statement for the judge, telling Difanis he felt he was having a panic attack.

Quoting from Graham's presentence investigation report, Difanis said Graham described himself as a "petty thief, not a violent person."

But the judge said bank robbery ratcheted his behavior into a more serious category. Difanis said he had to send a message of deterrence to others who might want to try the same crime.

With good behavior, Graham could be eligible for parole in about seven years.

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