73-year-old gets Aug. 2 trial date in Tampa bank robberies

Police say James Bruce told them he asked the bank tellers for $600 each time because he needed the money to pay his mortgage.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

Police say James Bruce told them he asked the bank tellers for $600 each time because he needed the money to pay his mortgage.

TAMPA — James Bruce, the 73-year-old accused of robbing three south Tampa banks earlier this year, is scheduled to face a jury on Aug. 2.

His public defender told Circuit Judge Gregory Holder that he and a prosecutor had been unable to reach a plea deal.

Bruce was arrested in February after police say the shuffling grandfather robbed three banks within a month, each time slipping the teller a note demanding $600. Police say he told them he did it to pay the mortgage and that he planned to pay it back.

Each time he appeared in court, Holder has addressed Bruce and his wife with a gentle tone, asking how they were doing.

On Thursday, the judge asked if Bruce was facing any minimum mandatory sentences. He isn't. Bruce faces up to 15 years in prison on each count with the bottom of the sentencing guidelines at 33 months. But a judge isn't restricted by the guidelines.

Holder told Bruce's defender, Jason Isaac, he was sure the attorney was diligently preparing reasons to lower the sentence.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3354.

73-year-old gets Aug. 2 trial date in Tampa bank robberies 05/13/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:16pm]

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