SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CNS) - A 69-year-old Vietnam War veteran who robbed a City Heights bank of $107,000 using a phony bomb threat was sentenced today to probation and given credit for nearly four months in jail.
Michael Casey Wilson -- who has numerous health problems including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder -- faced up to six years in prison after his guilty plea Oct. 27 to one felony count of robbery and a misdemeanor count of making a false report of a bomb.
Wilson's attorney, Kenneth Kaminski, told Judge Kathleen Lewis that the defendant's financial problems overcame any judgment when he robbed the Bank of America at El Cajon Boulevard and Marlborough Avenue about 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 14.
Wilson, a Santee resident, handed the bank manager a multi-page demand note explaining he wanted an unspecified amount of money and said he had C-4 explosives in his briefcase, prosecutors said.
"He never intended for the bank to be evacuated," Kaminski told the judge, calling Wilson's plan to rob the bank "ill-conceived."
Wilson, who has diabetes and is recovering from prostate cancer, apologized for his actions.
"I'm so sorry that I did this," Wilson said, standing in court with a cane. "It was so stupid."
After the robbery, Wilson slipped out of the bank but sat down and fell asleep about a block away and was arrested, authorities said.
Deputy District Attorney Ted Minahan urged the judge to sentence Wilson to 180 days in jail.
"He scared the heck out of everybody in the bank," the prosecutor said.
Lewis, citing Wilson's age, medical problems and lack of prior criminal record, sentenced the defendant to three years probation and 365 days in jail, giving him credit for 116 days in custody and suspending the remainder.
"You cannot commit a crime like this because of your economic situation," the judge said, telling the defendant most people in his position would be going to prison.
Wilson, a retired mortgage broker, served as an Army ranger at the height of the Vietnam War and was honorably discharged from the military, according to court records.
The defendant has been receiving medical and psychological services from the Veterans Administration, Kaminski said.
"We would hope it's a rare and unusual case," the attorney said outside court.
In the wake of the Gate Fire, which ignited May 20, the Bureau of Land Management has issued new restrictions for Southern California counties, including San Diego.
Veterans are being honored across San Diego County during Memorial Day weekend and dozens of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were among those spending their Saturday placing American flags at burial sites at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
With thousands of San Diegans expected to celebrate the holiday weekend at the beach, lifeguards are on high alert and a have a few warnings for those headed to the water.
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, is scheduled to visit local Navy personnel in San Diego and Coronado next week, her office announced Saturday.
A 30-year-old Vista man was arrested for drunk driving and failure to yield Saturday morning after leading Carlsbad police on a high-speed pursuit that ended with the suspect crashing into a pole, according to authorities.
A man, possibly armed, and holed up inside a home in the Bay Park community for about four hours Saturday surrendered to police without incident.
Vacationing homeowners were hit by thieves in Mira Mesa, but thanks to a smartphone app, the crooks did not get away with it.
Signs warning people to stay out of the water are once again posted in Imperial Beach after a new spill from Mexico dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of sewage into the Tijuana River - polluting the South Bay.
Two defense contractors were sentenced to prison Friday for conspiring to steal more than $3 million worth of medical equipment from Camp Pendleton that the military had planned to ship overseas to treat injured Marines.