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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Alleged Prison Escapee Charged with Attempted Bank Robbery

BOSTON – A former Army Reservist who was previously charged with the theft of military weapons, and then later escaped while in federal custody, has now been charged with two counts of attempted bank robbery.


James W. Morales, 35, of Cambridge, was first arrested in November 2015 on federal weapons charges arising from the theft of military weapons from a U.S. Army Reserve facility in Worcester, Mass. Morales then escaped from federal custody while detained at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island on Dec. 31, 2016.


On the morning of Jan.5, 2017, at approximately 9:21 a.m., it is alleged that Morales entered a branch of Bank of America in Cambridge and passed the teller a note that read, “I WANT ALL OF THE LARGE DENOMINATIONS W/BAND’S FROM THE 2ND (BOTTOM) TILL NOW BE CALM – BE COOL – NO DYE PACKS.” The teller was able to flee to the back of the bank behind a locked door, and Morales exited the bank without any money. The bank’s video surveillance system recorded Morales’ attempted robbery.


Later that same day, at approximately 3:11 p.m., Morales allegedly entered a branch of Citizen’s Bank in Somerville and passed the teller a note that read “I WANT THE MONEY IN THE TILL NOW!! 100’s 50’s 20’s Be Calm, Be Cool, be Quick.” When the teller stated, “I can’t,” Morales wished the teller a nice day and exited the bank. The bank’s video surveillance system recorded Morales’ attempted robbery.


At approximately 3:40 p.m., Massachusetts State Police troopers responding to the report of the bank robbery observed Morales who had fled. After a foot pursuit, Morales was apprehended.


The charge of bank robbery provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and restitution on each count. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge bases upon the US Sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.


Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; United States Marshal John Gibbons for the District of Massachusetts; Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Cambridge Police Commissioner Brent Larabee; and Somerville Police Chief David Fallon, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Grady of Weinreb’s Worcester Branch Office and Kelly Lawrence of Weinreb’s Major Crimes Unit are prosecuting the case.


The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in the court of law.


Violent Crime
Updated January 26, 2017