Repeat offender with multiple offenses over 40 years seeks leniency

2014-01-17T18:30:00Z 2014-01-18T00:08:11Z Repeat offender with multiple offenses over 40 years seeks leniencyMarc Chase marc.chase@nwi.com, (219) 662-5330 nwitimes.com
January 17, 2014 6:30 pm  • 

HAMMOND | A Hammond bank robbery suspect led a 40-year life of crime, including a past murder conviction, his attorney conceded in Hammond federal court documents filed Friday.

But Ronald Parks, 61, of Calumet City, deserves a shot at not dying in prison when a judge sentences Parks for his most recent crime, the attorney argued.

Parks pleaded guilty last year to the April 2012 robbery of Citizens Bank in Hammond. Two weeks before the robbery, federal authorities said Parks also had kidnapped a woman in Indiana and held her for ransom in Illinois.

Parks is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Hammond on the charge of bank robbery by force or violence.

In Friday's court filings, Parks' defense attorney, Jeffrey Schlesinger, asks the court for a sentence of no more than 14 years in prison, which would set Parks free in his 70s.

Schlesinger acknowledged that federal sentencing guidelines call for a penalty of between 21 and 27 years. He also conceded his client has been consistently in trouble with the law for the better part of four decades.

Parks previously was sentenced to life in prison for a 1974 charge of murder in perpetration of robbery, Schlesinger noted. After 20 years of incarceration, Parks was paroled in that case in 1994, his attorney explained in documents.

But Parks violated his parole and returned to prison in 1996, according to Schlesigner.

Parks was paroled yet again in May 1997 only to end up back in prison in August of that year on another violation and new charge, court documents show.

In 2005, Parks again was released from prison. Less than five months later, he was jailed again on parole violations, the documents state. More parole violations occurred after Parks' 2009 release, and he was returned to custody in 2010.

Parks committed the most recent robbery lass than a month after his 2012 parole from prison, Schlesinger said.

According to the Indiana Department of Correction website, Parks was convicted of murder in 1975. In 1999, Parks was convicted of rape and criminal confinement.

"Although Mr. Parks' record shows a persistent failure of rehabilitation, it also shows that he has been incarcerated for the majority of the last 39 years," Schlesinger stated in documents.

Schlesinger also argued that only 2 percent of inmates in federal prisons are 60 or older and that his client's chance of committing new offenses will diminish with age.

He argued a 14-year sentence "would adequately reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect for the law and provide just punishment for the offense."

"Mr. Parks realized that his past conduct does not indicate remorse for previous criminal behavior," Schlesinger wrote.

"At his age, however, he has realized that he has already spent the majority of his life incarcerated, and if he wishes not to die in prison, he cannot participate in any criminal conduct following his release." Federal prosecutors have not yet responded to the filings.

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