SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – A serial bank robber, who admitted to holding up 14 banks in northeastern Pennsylvania, will not be getting out of prison for nearly two decades.
William Fischer appeared in federal court in Scranton Friday afternoon to face his sentencing hearing.
Prosecutors call Fischer’s actions planned, calculated and methodical.
Over a nearly two year time frame, the 46 year old terrorized banks in four counties and Friday the Dunmore man learned what punishment he will face.
235 months. That is just shy of 20 years in prison.
That is how long a federal judge says William Fischer must spend in prison in connection with a series of bank robberies in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne and Monroe counties.
The crimes started in December 2015. That is when an NBT Bank near Elmhurst was held-up.
Week after week and month after month, the robberies continued.
Guns were pointed at tellers and surveillance pictures aired on television but it wasn’t until September 2017 when state police got their break.
Fischer was arrested just 17 minutes after robbing a People’s Bank in Gouldsboro, Wayne County.
He dumped a bag of stolen cash in the woods.
As he faced a judge in federal court Friday, Fischer apologized for his actions.
He said it was never his intent to hurt anybody but acknowledged, “I never thought about the victims, people just trying to go to work.”
The federal judge overseeing this case called it “absolutely bizarre, mind-boggling, and flabber-gasting.”
William Fischer had never been in trouble with the law.
His attorney says Fischer started robbing banks due to financial pressures saying “he just had a life of mounting pressure and he succumbed.”
Federal prosecutors say Fischer robbed many of the banks while he was armed and even wearing body armor.
Investigators say the day he was caught he had an AR-15 with five full magazines in his trunk anticipating a possible shoot-out with police.
While the Dunmore man could have faced hundreds of years in prison, prosecutors say Fischer cooperated and admitted to what he did.
Even the judge acknowledged Friday that he got a “very good deal.”
In all, William Fischer got away with more than $187,000 from the 14 banks that he robbed.
As part of his sentencing Friday, the judge ordered him to pay everything back but acknowledged that most likely that restitution will never fully be paid back.
Several of William Fischer’s family members were in court Friday supporting him but they did not address the judge directly.