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Former Army reservist gets more than 11 years for robbing military guns, escaping prison, trying to rob banks in Cambridge, Somerville

Morales in Cambridge bank

Morales in failed Cambridge robbery.

James Walker Morales, 37, of Cambridge, arrested last year in Somerville after trying to rob a bank there and one in Cambridge, was sentenced to 11 1/2 years in federal prison yesterday.

Morales, 37, had pleaded guilty last November to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one count of possession of a machine gun; one count of possession of stolen firearms, one count of theft of government property; one count of conspiracy to possess, store, conceal, and sell stolen weapons, one count of escape and two counts of attempted bank robbery, the US Attorney's office reports.

Morales briefly became a one-man crime spree between 2015, when he was on the lam on child-rape charges out of Middlesex County, and 2017, when State Police captured him after the Somerville attempt, which a teller foiled by telling him she couldn't give him money.

Morales wished the teller a nice day and exited the bank.

According to the US Attorney's office, Morales broke into an Army Reserve armory in Worcester - where he had served while in the Army Reserve - and stole six M-4 Carbines and 10 M-11 handguns, sold five of the weapons in Dorchester, fled to New York, was arrested on Long Island and put in a prison in Rhode Island, which he escaped before trying to hold up the Cambridge and Somerville banks.

Authorities quickly identified Morales as the suspect in the armory break-in because some blood he left behind when he cut himself on an edge of the ceiling hole he cut to gain entry to the facility. Also, he was still wearing the GPS monitor a judge had ordered for him as a condition of his bail on the child-rape charges.

The two people who helped facilitate Morales's sale of guns in Dorchester - Ashley Bigsbee and Tyrone James - are currently serving federal time as well - Bigsbee got 21 months and James 57.

Free tagging: 


"A Worcester Army Reserve armory in Worcester"?

Voting closed 7

OK, I goofed. Fixed, thanks.

Voting closed 8


MA's "toughest in the nation laws" and Boston's own AWB ordinance don't appear to have been enforced here.

Possession of a machine-gun without a license is punishable up to LIFE IN PRISON in MA. With the litany of other major offense these people engaged in, why aren't they locked up for the long haul instead of a comparatively short stint in club fed?

Why didn't the state pursue charges and why didn't the city take the opportunity to enforce it's own ordinance? Politicians keep adding more and more laws and when there's an opportunity to enforce them against really bad people it doesn't seem like law after law after law gets enforced.

Makes for great campaign ads, press conferences, op-eds in the Globe, and billboards on the Mass Pike. Actual follow through in enforcement not so much.


Voting closed 17

That he faced federal charges, brought by federal prosecutors in federal court, and that he will be serving time in federal prison?

He was not charged in state court (at least not for the charges for which he was sentenced yesterday), so state law doesn't apply.

Voting closed 7

Why isn't the state pressing charges so that these dangerous people won't be out and about as soon as the fed sentence is up?

Voting closed 15

For starters, we don't know that the state won't be doing exactly that. They are probably weighing the pros and cons. Massachusetts has some time to figure that out given the lengthy federal sentence.

Moreover, how much would it cost and to what end (other than making you feel better)? If the feds convicted him for the bank robberies and he will be in for a long time, there is no reason for the state to expend scarce resources just to pile on more. Otherwise, the state has to have a compelling reason to not just stand aside and give the feds precedence on the more serious charges and spend the money to incarcerate the guy.

More info: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/state-federal-prosecution.html

Voting closed 5

If the state considers a crime serious enough to have a legislated a potential sentence of life in prison then why isn’t the state prosecuting the crime?

Why were the accomplices not charged and sentenced fully where they would have incurred 10 year mandatory minimums?

I thought “gun violence” was a priority?

These people stole real machine guns from the military and are doing less time than garden variety drug dealers.

Voting closed 4

That is clearly federal territory. Full stop.

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