FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — A man with a lengthy criminal record will spend the next 12 to 50 years behind bars after he robbed a bank and then attacked police while in jail back in 2018, according to Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn.
Thomas Halpen, 61, of Fall River pleaded guilty to unarmed robbery and assault and battery of a police officer with intent to disarm.
On Sept. 21, 2018, Quinn said Halpen walked into Fall River Municipal Credit Union around 1 p.m. and handed the teller a note that read, “I want all the money, don’t do anything stupid, I know where you live.”
The teller gave him more than $6,000, but embedded a GPS-tracking device within the bills, according to Quinn.
Quinn said police quickly traced the suspect back to an apartment on Weetamoe Street, where they saw a man going inside with a large duffel bag. A trash bag full of cash was found inside the home, while the duffel bag contained a single $100 bill.
Police took Halpen into custody and brought him back to the bank so witnesses could confirm his identity, according to Quinn. The clothing and items used in the robbery were recovered shortly after.
Two days later, while Halpen was being held in jail pending a Monday arraignment, Quinn said he lunged at a police officer and unsuccessfully tried to take their gun.
Quinn said Halpen has a long criminal history dating back to the 1970s that includes armed robbery, forgery, breaking and entering, and assault charges.
“The defendant is a career criminal who should have been in state prison for a prior robbery when he committed this robbery,” Quinn said. “He clearly is a danger to the public and the sentence ensures that society will be protected from the defendant for the rest of his life.”