A homeless man’s plan to rob a Beatrice bank as a way to go to prison instead landed him a probation sentence this week in Gage County District Court.
Terry L. Bailes, 54, was convicted of robbing Great Western Bank at 10th and Court streets last October.
He was initially scheduled to be sentenced last month on the reduced charge of attempted robbery, but District Court Judge Rick Schreiner declined to sentence Bailes, instead asking him to take time while being held in the Gage County Detention Center to think of a plan that would allow him to be successful on probation.
His plan on Wednesday consisted of living with a friend in Missouri who could help him get his life in order, and prompted Schreiner to issue a sentence of 36 months probation.
Schreiner admitted a probation sentence was highly unusual in a bank robbery case.
“This was a bank robbery, but your motivation was not profit,” Schreiner said. “You didn’t harm anybody in the process. You immediately asked them to call law enforcement. You stuck around until law enforcement showed up. I take the motivation for the offense into consideration and the motivation was to survive.”
It was stated the previous hearing that Bailes worked at Landoll Corporation for six years before developing a condition in his hand that Bailes said prevented him from doing simple tasks like putting on his shoes.
The condition led to Bailes losing his job and residence. With no family to turn to, he said being sent to prison might be the only way to get the care he needs.
Without a weapon, Bailes entered the bank last October and demanded money before asking the teller to call police and saying that he wanted to go to prison.
He left the bank with $10, purchased cigarettes and waited for police around a block from the scene of the robbery, telling officers immediately that he was the suspect they were looking for.
He pleaded no contest in the case.
Despite being sentenced to probation, Bailes will remain in custody in Gage County for at least the next 45 days. Schreiner said it will take that long to transfer his probation from Nebraska to Missouri, where he has a place to stay.
Releasing him on probation at the time of the sentence would have either resulted in Bailes violating probation by leaving the state or being homeless in Nebraska, potentially leading him to commit another crime to have a place to stay.
“The problem I had last time was that if I put you on probation and immediately release you, you go out on the street in the same circumstance you were in before you committed that bank robbery,” Schreiner said. “If I pout you back out on the street and your plan is still to go to prison to get your medical needs taken care of and you hurt somebody.”
Schreiner is also requiring Bailes to obtain a GED as part of the probation sentence.