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Terminally ill criminal, freed early because of his health, charged in new bank heist

Last month, Jamie Frierson was sentenced to time served for a string of bank robberies. According to the new charge, he struck again at a Bronx bank on May 8. 

A man who was recently freed from prison

A man who was recently freed from prison early because of his health has been charged in a new bank heist. Photo Credit: Theodore Parisienne

Barely two weeks after his release by a Manhattan federal judge with a sentence of time served for a series of five 2017 bank robberies because he has terminal liver cancer, a career criminal known as the “Broadway Bandit” was arrested Tuesday on a new bank heist charge.

Jamie Frierson, 49, from the Bronx, was charged with using the same M.O. he used in the earlier thefts — passing a note to a teller claiming he had a gun — to rob a bank on East Fordham Road on May 8, just nine days after he was released by U.S. District Judge Annalisa Torres on grounds of poor health.

“Mr. Frierson’s cancer is very advanced and incurable,” Torres said at his sentencing, according to a transcript. “His life expectancy is short…. The sentence I will impose today will credit Mr. Frierson for his good qualities. It also reflects that Mr. Frierson is in an extremely weakened state and does not present a threat to public safety.”

Frierson had been jailed for 20 months before and after his 2018 conviction at trial of the five 2017 robberies. Torres’ April 29 sentence followed a plea for compassion from Frierson’s lawyer, and Frierson’s “profuse” apology to tellers he terrorized.

“I’m terminal, I’m on borrowed time,” he told the judge. “When you are at the end of your life, certain things become important to you that weren’t as important to you before, like your family. … It’s just being around people that love you, and if I have to die I’m just hoping I can die around my family and not prison.”

When he was sentenced in April, federal advisory guidelines called for Frierson to get from 210 to 262 months in prison based on an extensive criminal history including a conviction for selling drugs, an earlier 42-month sentence for robbery, and a prison sentence for forgery that ended just before the five 2017 robberies.

In those thefts, all in the vicinity of Broadway, there was no evidence anyone was injured or that Frierson brandished a weapon, but he made threats in notes. “I have a gun. Give me money,” said a note used at an HSBC branch in August 2017, and some tellers said he pretended he had a weapon.

Altogether, he stole $12,723. The government argued that, despite the cancer, enough was enough. “The community has been subject to Mr. Frierson’s conduct for enough time,” said prosecutor Aline Flodr.

But Torres was persuaded by Frierson — who said his weight had dropped from 200 to 140 pounds and for his first year in jail awaiting trial his cancer was misdiagnosed by prison officials — and public defender Sylvie Levine, who said cancer lesions were spreading despite chemotherapy and he was “increasingly weak.” 

Levine said Frierson would live with his sister, get treatment at Westchester County Medical Center, and could wear an ankle bracelet. “We have compassion for people when they are diagnosed with cancer,” she said, “… and we should have compassion when that person is a federal criminal defendant.”

Torres found that Frierson had been a “model prisoner” and did not impose supervised release by probation officials or an ankle bracelet.

According to the new charges, the following week Frierson handed a bank teller a note saying “I AM ARMED GIVE ME ALL OF IT!  100’S, 50’S, 20, 10 IMMEDIATELY NO DIE PACKS,” and said “Give me all your money. I’m armed.”

He allegedly got away with $200. He is expected to be presented in court at a later date. Levine did not return a call for comment.

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