Modern-day Robin Hood sentenced
Laconia — A homeless man who robbed a bank was a modern-day Robin Hood who gave the money to others down on their luck, a defense attorney told a judge on Wednesday.
Public Defender Jesse Friedman said Johnathan Ellinger was desperate and hungry when he robbed the Bank of New Hampshire on Pleasant Street in Laconia on Jan. 3 and made off with slightly more than $2,500 in cash. Shortly after the robbery, Ellinger went to a downtown church and gave the money to four or five other people.
“He didn't go out and buy expensive things,” Friedman said.
Deputy Belknap County Attorney Carley Ahern said that, had the case gone to trial, the state would have called the bank's vice president of security to authenticate the video footage of the robbery recorded by security cameras. Laconia Police Detective Kevin Butler would also testify that Ellinger admitted to robbing the bank under questioning.
Friedman said Ellinger was homeless and had been living in a tent prior to the robbery, and although he had received assistance from the city, at the time of the crime, he was unable to afford to eat.
“He made a choice driven by desperation — he was hungry,” Friedman said. While conceding that Ellinger told the teller that he was armed, he did not have a gun, a knife or any other weapon, the defense attorney said.
According to Friedman, Ellinger shared his ill-gotten gains with other members of the homeless community in a “Robin Hood-like act.”
The negotiated sentence, Friedman told the court, takes into consideration Ellinger's willingness to take responsibility for the robbery and strikes an appropriate balance between punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation.
A tall, lean man with shoulder-length gray hair and a full beard, Ellinger expressed remorse for his conduct.
“I am really sorry for what I did. I didn't mean to cause anyone any harm. I was desperate,” Ellingher said.
Judge James D. O'Neill III accepted Ellinger's guilty plea and sentenced him to not less than three nor more than six years in the New Hampshire State Prison. He was credited with serving 164 days of pretrial confinement and will remain on probation for three years following his release. He was additionally ordered to have no contact with the female teller he terrorized, or to enter any branch of Bank of New Hampshire. He must also pay $2,543.95 in restitution, plus a statutory 17 percent administrative fee.