Court rules Somerville man was only a bank burglar, not a bank robber

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday a man convicted of stealing more $308,000 from an East Cambridge Savings Bank branch on Highland Avenue in Somerville has to have his 12 1/2-year sentence reconsidered because that was a sentence for robbery, but he was actually convicted of the lesser crime of burglary, which carries a maximum sentence half as long.

In its ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston noted that the indictment against Daniel Almeida refers to "entry or attempted entry into a bank with the intent to commit a crime therein," under the burglary statute, rather than "taking or attempting to take from a bank by force, intimidation, or extortion," under the robbery statute.

The government may have been forced into this position because of allegations that the bank teller Almeida pointed a gun at and then tied up was actually working with Almeida to rob the bank during the 2007 incident.

The appeals court said that regardless of what actually happened that day, because the indictment against him does not mention "force, intimidation or extortion," the judge in the case should not have used the tougher robbery provisions to determine Almeida's sentence after he was convicted in 2011. The ruling means the judge in the case will have to reconsider how long Almeida should spend in prison.

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