Tue, Oct. 22

Bank robber goes to prison

Judge Warren Darrow told William Dominic Zeluff that he "did not find probation to be appropriate" for the crime of holding-up the Chase Bank in February. He sentenced the 24-year-old Zeluff to 2.5 years in prison on his guilty plea for the single charge of robbery.

Zeluff will also be responsible for paying the Cottonwood Chase Bank the $5,136.75 he took in a canvas bank bag from the bank and another $4,304 Yavapai County spent to extradite the defendant to Arizona from Nebraska.

Zeluff and his attorney, Matt Springer, seemed to be "angling" for probation in a pre-sentencing hearing Thursday afternoon. Zeluff was the only person to testify in his behalf.

He said that he made the decision to rob the bank that morning and "thought it would help my situation with child support."

When he was asked what he did with the money, Zeluff said most of it went to bus tickets and for child support. He said he sent money to his daughters Aurora in Texas and Julia in Pennsylvania.

He said, "I thought the money was going to help my situation, but, when you do something like that, it costs a lot more than that just to hide out."

Prompted by his attorney, Zeluff said he would pay back the bank, "every dime."

Did he feel remorse? Yes, he said, "I truly am sorry ... especially for the teller. She was pretty scared. She didn't deserve to be put in this position."

He said he would "never again" do something like that. "It's not worth it."

Springer told the judge that probation would allow Zeluff the opportunity to make restitution to the bank earlier. It was a "one-time mistake," he noted. He did not believe that his client would be a flight risk, even though he had no permanent job or family connections.

Following the testimony by Zeluff, Judge Darrow immediately began sentencing. Even considering the defendant's age, mental health issues, his professed desire for restitution to the bank and the fact that there were no injuries involved, Darrow still did not consider probation appropriate.

Darrow said the crime is still "very dangerous," especially considering the emotional harm of the teller. The judge also said that Zeluff "does not fully appreciate" the gravity of the crime.

Two and a half years in prison is the "presumptive" sentence for robbery, a Class-4 felony. Zeluff will be credited for 42 days already served in the county jail. He is also responsible for the restitution to the bank and Yavapai County.

He showed little emotion during the sentencing and did not seem surprised at the prison sentence.

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