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Former architectural engineer sentenced to 51 months in fake bomb heist

A former architectural engineer who threatened to detonate a fake bomb when he robbed a bank in Brighton received a 51-month prison sentence on Monday, authorities said.

Kenneth E. Denny, 61, learned his fate during a hearing in US District Court in Boston, according to a statement from acting US Attorney William D. Weinreb.

Denny used subterfuge when he robbed a Citizens Bank location on Washington Street in Brighton on July 24, 2015, according to the statement.

He handed a teller a note demanding cash and “removed what appeared to be a bomb from a newspaper he was carrying and placed it on the teller’s counter,” the statement said. The teller handed over a little more than $4,000, but Denny still issued another threat, according to prosecutors.

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As he was exiting the bank, Denny pulled out a white cell phone and declared, “I am going to blow it up,” the release said.

Investigators later determined the bomb was phony.

They were aided in their efforts to locate Denny by the fact that he left his wallet at the bank. The wallet contained his name and photo, the statement said.

He was apprehended while heading down Washington Street, and bank employees identified him as the culprit, according to prosecutors.

Denny is already serving a sentence for another armed robbery in New York, the statement said. His sentence in the Brighton case will run concurrently.

His lawyer in the Boston case, Charles McGinty, said in a recent court filing that the fake bomb used in the Citizens heist was “made out of broomsticks and spray paint.” In addition, McGinty wrote, Denny “dropped the money and ran” when a bank manager confronted him.

He said Denny holds degrees from the Wentworth Institute of Technology and Boston University and had a “successful career” as an architectural engineer.

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“His collapse, evident from his first criminal conviction occurring at age 58 (an OUI in 2013), begs the obvious question: why?” McGinty wrote. “Up to age 58, he was a successful and gainfully employed professional working, inter alia, as an architectural designer for BU and for Parsons Brinkerhoff, making significant money. Perhaps his difficulties started with neurological issues first apparent in 2006.”

Those issues included complaints of double vision, headaches and blurred vision after an assault, and a battle with cocaine addiction, according to McGinty.

“Certainly, there is some evidence of a brain abnormality, and he continues to suffer from seizures and memory loss consistent with seizure disorder,” the defense lawyer wrote. “But, whatever the cause, there was plainly a collapse, a pitiful decline of a human being into addiction, penury, and ultimately prison.”


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