‘Menance to society’ sentenced

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Kevin Murphy
Friday, June 18, 2010
— A 59-year-old Janesville man who already has spent 25 years in prison was sentenced Thursday in federal court to another 22 years for taking $45,202 in a December 2008 robbery at a Juneau County bank.

Thomas A. Senge, who is also known as Thomas Steele, pressed a handgun against the head of Farmers State Bank teller in Union Center. Senge asked co-defendant Richard Molinaro, 36, of Tomah what he should do with her, according the teller’s statement.

“I thought they would kill me,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim O’Shea read from the teller’s statement Thursday.

The teller wrote that the incident remains so vivid she feels as if an imprint of the gun’s muzzle remains on her temple. A second teller wrote that she cried for four days after the robbery and had nightmares for months about masked gunmen.

O’Shea asked U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to impose the maximum sentence of 27 years in prison to send a message that a “life of crime leads to a dead end.”

Senge, who previously served four prison terms for jewelry store robberies and residential burglary, apologized to the tellers, who were listening on a conference call.

“It breaks my heart to know what happened to these two women,” he said.

Defense attorney Jack Hoag asked Crabb for a 10-year sentence, saying it would be served without possibility of early parole.

Crabb disagreed and called Senge “a menace to society” who taped victims to the floor during a Milwaukee County store robbery. Senge began committing crimes after serving in the Vietnam War and seemingly relented only while in prison, she said.

“There’s no indication that you will conform to the law when released from prison,” she told him.

Senge’s prior convictions for violent crimes in Pennsylvania and Milwaukee County classify him as a “career offender” under federal guidelines, allowing Crabb to increase his sentence. Crabb also lengthened Senge’s sentence because he pointed a firearm at a teller and restrained the tellers by placing a chair against the door of the bathroom Senge had ordered them into.

After the robbery, Molinaro and Senge went to nearby Elroy and stopped in a café, where Molinaro was videotaped. Authorities matched the description of one of the robbers to Molinaro’s image recorded at the café, O’Shea said.

Molinaro was sentenced last month to 17 years in prison.

The day before the bank robbery, Senge and Molinaro met and discussed burglarizing homes to get money before deciding on the bank robbery, O’Shea said. Molinaro purchased the .25-caliber handgun Senge used during the robbery at a yard sale, O’Shea said.

Last updated: 2:02 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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