James Brennan was drinking beer and dodging a burglary warrant Oct. 8 when he decided to rob a bank, he told a federal judge Wednesday.
Already on probation and believing he’d soon be off to jail on allegations he stole a lawnmower from his father-in-law’s business, he needed money to provide for his family while he was incarcerated, he told U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land.
So, wearing a green bandana over his face and a Corona beer cap, he walked into the Regions Bank at 5385 Veterans Parkway about 4:30 p.m., pointed a BB pistol at a teller and got away with $2,698, driving off in a silver-colored Saturn.
But he didn’t get far: He drove to Opelika, Ala., checked into a motel, turned on the TV and saw that authorities in Columbus already knew his name and were seeking his whereabouts, he said.
Investigators said all they had to do was distribute the bank security camera image of Brennan to local media, and people who knew him started calling in, saying Brennan always wore a Corona cap and drove a silver Saturn.
Brennan stayed in Opelika seven days, he said, eventually calling FBI agent Gordon Hurley in Columbus to tell Hurley he would turn himself in. His family never got the loot because giving any to his wife would have made her an accomplice, Brennan said.
In federal court Wednesday, Brennan apologized for frightening the bank teller with his Airsoft BB pistol, which looked like a semiautomatic handgun. “I scared her. I saw it in her eyes,” he said.
Judge Land sentenced Brennan to serve seven years and a month in federal prison, and to repay the bank the $2,698 he took.