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Sharon Man Pleads Guilty to Role in Bank Robbery

Prosecutor David Cahill presents paperwork to defense attorney Jordana Levine and her client John Fenley after reaching a plea deal in Windsor District Court in White River Junction Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Fenley plead guilty for his involvement in a January bank robbery in White River Junction. 
Valley News - James M. Patterson
jpatterson@vnews.com
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Prosecutor David Cahill presents paperwork to defense attorney Jordana Levine and her client John Fenley after reaching a plea deal in Windsor District Court in White River Junction Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Fenley plead guilty for his involvement in a January bank robbery in White River Junction. Valley News - James M. Patterson jpatterson@vnews.com photo@vnews.com Purchase photo reprints »

White River Junction — A 50-year-old Sharon man was sentenced to 2 to 20 years in prison yesterday after pleading guilty to serving as an accomplice in a January bank robbery in White River Junction.

John T. Fenley pleaded guilty to grand larceny in Windsor Superior Court in connection with a bank robbery of People’s United Bank near the Hartford Municipal Building.

“I just want to apologize to the state of Vermont and people for what I did,” Fenley, who was led into the courtroom yesterday in shackles, told Judge Robert Gerety. “I accept my punishment and I’m just going to try to move on with my life.”

Fenley initially faced charges of grand larceny, bank robbery and attempted bank robbery. During a previous court appearance, Deputy Windsor County State Attorney David Cahill invoked Vermont’s habitual offender law, which allows prosecutors to seek life sentences for defendants who have been convicted of at least three felonies.

According to court documents, from 1982 to 2006, Fenley was convicted of nine felonies in Rhode Island, including breaking and entering and shoplifting.

But Cahill said yesterday that prosecutors had amended the charges because Fenley was an accomplice, not the man who entered the bank wearing a red hat and wig and told a teller he had a gun.

“Mr. Fenley was not the person who committed the robbery, but he certainly knew what he was getting himself into,” Cahill said.

Joseph G. Petracca, 46, of Providence, R.I., was arrested in January and also charged in the case.

Cahill said that Fenley helped arrange Petracca’s transportation during the Jan. 17 bank heist. The two wore costumes, he said. Petracca was on a bike and Fenley picked him up.

“Mr. Fenley, did you hear the State’s Attorney’s facts?” Gerety asked.

“I heard what he said,” Fenley replied.

“Do you agree that all the facts are true?” Gerety asked.

“No,” Fenley said.

Fenley’s public defeneder, Jordana Levine, requested a word with her client.

Fenley leaned close to Levine and started to angrily whisper into her ear. He bent over her, his face turned away from the judge.

After more hushed conversation, he straightened up and seemed calmer.

Gerety tried again: “If you don’t think they are true facts, I need to know that.”

“No, they’re true,” Fenley said.

Gerety delivered the sentence and wished Fenley “good luck.”

Cahill said he thinks the sentence places “the ball in Mr. Fenley’s court to lead a better life.”

After the hearing, Levine declined to comment.

“I think this is a fair resolution for the public and for Mr. Fenley,” Cahill said. “There is no guarantee that he’s released after two years. If he is a model prisoner, he gets a shot at life outside of prison.”

Zack Peterson can be reached at 603-727-3211 or zpeterson@vnews.com.