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Stoughton man gets 16-year prison term for bank heist

A Stoughton man was sentenced Friday to 16 years in prison for an armed bank robbery in which he briefly held a customer at gunpoint, court records show.

Mark Lepage, 50, was sentenced during a hearing in US District Court in Boston. He had pleaded guilty in January to armed bank robbery and weapons charges.

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According to an affidavit, a man later identified as Lepage walked into an Eastern Bank on Lynn St. in Peabody on the afternoon of April 4, 2011, and placed a gun to the back of a male customer’s head.

Lepage demanded that the man hand over his money, then pointed the gun at three tellers and told them to hand over more cash, the affidavit said. Lepage began screaming, “Give me all the money, no dye packs or alarms or I will shoot,” records show.

He fled the bank with $21,709, according to authorities.

Though Lepage pleaded guilty, court records show that he attempted to withdraw his plea in May and go to trial, but Judge Richard G. Stearns rejected that request.

“My decision to plead was a difficult one with good reasons on both sides,” Lepage said in a sworn affidavit that was included with his withdrawal motion. “I believed I had a triable case (in the video the robber is hooded and wearing sunglasses).”

Lepage added that “the key witnesses were, from my perspective, the bank employees and customer who were allegedly in a position to identify the robber, and my former boss” who provided information to police.

After Lepage pleaded guilty, he said, prosecutors informed his lawyer of some issues with some of the witnesses, including the fact that the customer who identified Lepage in a photo array later said the initials on Lepage’s picture — indicating that he was the person identified by the witness — did not look like his, but he would be willing to say they were his initials anyway.

The customer also inquired about getting out of a ticket he had received, Lepage said.

“If I had known of these disclosures before my plea . . . I would have gone to trial,” Lepage said.

Somerville police Detective John Oliveira laid out the process by which Lepage was identified as the robber in the complaint filed in April 2011.

For example, according to Oliveira, the investigators who viewed the surveillance footage of the robbery thought the suspect resembled Lepage, whom they had interacted with “over a long period of time, including investigations for other uncharged bank robberies.”

Officials later learned that at the time of the robbery, Lepage had most recently worked for a furniture store in Lynn.

The owner of the store told police that he had fired Lepage about two weeks before the heist for suspected drug use and that Lepage had visited the store on the morning of the robbery and asked to hang on to his company cellphone for a brief period, Oliveira wrote.

The owner said Lepage was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt. Witnesses said the robber was wearing the same thing, according to Oliveira.

In addition, a records check showed that a blue-green Lincoln Town Car was registered to Lepage at the time of the robbery, and a witness told police that she saw a vehicle matching that description near the bank, driving erratically and causing her to go off the road to avoid being hit, Oliveira wrote.

Lepage said in his May affidavit that after his guilty plea, prosecutors told his lawyer that they might not have called his former boss to testify because he “had some baggage” that would have come to light on the stand.

In addition to the prison term, the judge ordered that Lepage pay $21,709 in restitution and spend five years on supervised release when he is freed.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.
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