A San Francisco man was sentenced in federal court today to seven years in prison for the unarmed robberies of nine banks in the city in 2007 and 2008. James Burge, 52, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel to pay the nine banks $30,941 in restitution and to write notes of apology to each of the bank tellers whose tills were robbed. Burge pleaded guilty before Patel in San Francisco in March to the nine counts of unarmed robbery of banks during a five-month period between November 2007 and March 2008, when he was arrested. U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello said Burge admitted during the guilty plea that while he was unarmed, he gave the tellers notes saying that he had a gun and threatening to shoot them if they failed to give him money. Burge was initially charged in a criminal complaint in March 2008 with two bank robberies, but an indictment filed later last year expanded the number to nine. An FBI affidavit filed with the original complaint stated that Burge confessed the robberies to police after giving up his right to a lawyer and said that he told police he robbed the banks to support a heroin habit. The banks included branches of Trans Pacific National Bank, Bank of the West, Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of America and U.S. Bank, according to the indictment. Russoniello said an accomplice in some of the robberies, Peter Juneau, pleaded guilty last year to robbing a total of 11 banks in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle during the same five-month period. He was sentenced to five years and three months in prison.
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