Pell Lake robber given 13-year sentence

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Darryl Enriquez
February 16, 2011
— Jeremiah Ward, whose girlfriend called him a "dumb ass" for taking off his mask too soon after a bank robbery, was sentenced Tuesday to 13 years in prison followed by seven years of extended supervision.

Walworth County Judge David Reddy handed down the sentence after saying that the bank robbery was premeditated. He noted Ward smoked marijuana at 7:30 a.m. the day of the robbery to build up his nerve.

Ward, 23, of Genoa City pleaded guilty in December to walking into the First Bank Center in Bloomfield Township on Aug. 31, displaying a BB gun to the bank tellers and fleeing with about $8,400. Authorities were aided in Ward's capture when he took off the mask too soon after fleeing the bank. Cameras were able to capture images of his face.

Ward and his accused co-conspiratorsóDavid Allen II, 23, and Shelby L. Kaelber, 20, both of Kenoshaówere caught a short time after the robbery.

Tuesday, the husband of a teller confronted by Ward told Reddy that his wife and family were upset by the robbery and "it changed her outlook on banking." The woman has worked 15 years as a bank teller and continues to work at First Bank, the husband said.

Ward's girlfriend, Corinne Smith, 47, told Reddy that Ward was a sweet guy who had lost his laborer's job because of injuries he suffered in a traffic accident. She said Ward needs psychological help to figure out why he turns to drugs "when things get tough.

Walworth County District Attorney Phillip Koss said the main issue before Reddy was how much prison time Ward should get.

Koss called Ward a thief who began smoking pot at age 12 and progressed to heroin.

"This is a well-thought-out robbery, not impulsive like guys sitting around smoking a bowl and deciding to rob someone," Koss said.

Koss asked Reddy to sentence Ward to 14 years in prison plus eight years of extended supervision.

Defense attorney Adam Welch asked for three to five years in prison for his client, saying that was plenty of time to help Ward turn around his drug addiction and mental health problems.

"The robbery was done under desperation and the influence of drugs," Welch said. "He wasn't trying to get rich, just trying to get by with his drug addiction."

Ward addressed Reddy, saying he was remorseful for what he did.

"I regret it every day I get up," Ward said. "I need help more than I need prison. I wish I could take it back."

The 20-year sentence of prison and extended supervision is half of the 40-year maximum allowed by law, Reddy said.

Allen and Kaelber recently were charged with felony bail jumping for violating terms of their bail by living together. Allen is accused of driving the car and Kaelber with supplying the BB gun.

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