STAR-BULLETIN / OCTOBER 2006
Michael Rosario is escorted into a cellblock by police officers. The bank robber wore various costumes while robbing eight banks and credit unions.
Prison garb awaits costume bandit
A serial bank robber whose elaborate costumed disguises included military and security guard uniforms, hospital scrubs, fake beards, wigs, false breasts and women's clothing will be wearing prison uniforms for the next 7 1/2 years.
A federal judge sentenced Michael Rosario Sr. yesterday to nine years in prison for robbing eight banks and credit unions -- some of them more than once -- and a convenience store. Rosario, 41, gets credit for the year and a half he has been in custody since his October 2006 arrest.
U.S. District Judge David Ezra also ordered Rosario to serve five years' probation after he gets out of prison and pay $29,905 in restitution.
Rosario pleaded guilty last December to three counts of bank robbery, eight counts of armed bank robbery, one count of attempted bank robbery and one count of robbery affecting interstate commerce from December 2005 to September 2006. The weapons he brandished during the robberies include a Swiss army knife, box cutters and a stun gun. He says what some of the victims thought was a handgun was actually a pen.
The nine-year sentence is the maximum term under federal advisory guidelines.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Loretta Sheehan asked Ezra for a longer prison sentence because of the trauma Rosario caused the bank tellers and because of the detailed planning and manner in which he carried out the robberies.
Rosario and his lawyer, assistant federal public defender Shanlyn Park, asked for a shorter sentence because, they said, his behavior was affected by the combined use of methamphetamine and Prozac to treat his depression.
Psychiatrist Pablo Stewart said yesterday using the two drugs together induced manic behavior.
"It's like one plus one equals five," he said.
Stewart said the use of outlandish, theatrical costumes and replacing the seams with Velcro to make them easy to remove is consistent with someone experiencing mania.
Ezra agreed that Rosario's abuse of methamphetamine while taking Prozac for depression might have contributed to his behavior, but he still knew right from wrong and was able to plan and carry out the robberies. And he said the use of theatrical costumes was part of Rosario's plan to distract observers to prevent them from providing a good description of him.