A federal judge yesterday ordered an early release for a man with a criminal record dating to the 1970s who participated in the robbery of a Charles Street bank, because he is 60 and suffers from a medical condition that would put him at high risk for serious complications or death should he contract Covid-19.
Pantone and Russell Dinovo robbed the Hingham Institution for Savings on Oct.9, 2015 and then tried to escape by a cab - which witnesses described to police, who were able to stop the vehicle in Charlesown, where the two were arrested and the more than $16,000 they grabbed was seized. Pantone pointed what appeared to be a gun - which turned out to be a replica - at tellers, while Dinovo jumped over the counter and took a teller's cash drawer.
Judge Indira Talwani agreed to release Antony Pantone roughly ten months early, to home confinement, after hearing that Pantone would agree to stay in a room at his brother's house in Malden, that his brother, and sister, who lives nearby, would ensure he gets to any substance-abuse counseling he needs if he cannot find a place in a halfway house, and that he is so worried about possible Covid-19 complications it's unlikely he would leave the house, let alone commit any of the acts that have repeatedly landed him behind bars.
Defendant’s age and medical condition together, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, constitute an extraordinary and compelling circumstance that warrant a reduction in his sentence.
Pantone's attorney argued that Pantone only committed crimes when he was on drugs or drunk and that he maintained a good record during his sobriety. And the attorney argued that Covid-19 is pretty much inescapable behind bars, that prisons are even worse than cruise ships for infection, which could prove fatal for a man with a serious liver condition:
Mr. Pantone is powerless to take the preventative self-care measures directed by the CDC for his high-risk group to remain safe from COVID-19 infection. He cannot self-quarantine or partake in "social distancing" in his prison facility. He is housed in a high-density custodial situation which is precisely the kind of space that has caused the alarmingly high-spread rates of COVID-19. Hand sanitizer, an effective disinfectant recommended by the CDC to reduce transmission rates, is contraband in jails and prisons because of its alcohol content.
Prosecutors, however, opposed Pantone's early release, saying he remains a danger to the community, what with a record that started with a conviction for two armed robberies when he was just 15 and includes multiple additional convictions for armed robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a police officer, assault with intent to rob and assault with a dangerous weapon.
Pantone will be released from a high-security federal prison in Waymart, PA, midway between Scranton and the New York line.