Boston Police report arresting a man on charges he robbed a Santander Bank branch in the Back Bay yesterday, close to four months after he got a compassionate early release for bank robberies in Brookline and West Bridgewater.
Police say Stephen Williams, 57, walked into the Santander Bank branch at 575 Boylston St. around 12:20 p.m. and handed a teller a note "implying that he was armed."
He fled with money, but never got a chance to enjoy it - not long after, a BPD officer working a detail at 650 Albany St. near Boston Medical Center in the South End, spotted a man matching his description and, after a brief foot chase, determined it was, in fact, him, based in part on "cash and other evidence related to the incident" recovered from him.
Williams was then charged with armed bank robbery.
Williams had been serving a five-year prison sentence for robbing a RTN Federal Credit Union branch in Brookline and a branch of the Mansfield Bank in West Bridgewater in November, 2016 - two robberies that netted him a total of $2,287. It was his latest conviction in a 33-conviction criminal career that court records show dates to 1982 for offenses that include arson, auto theft, breaking and entering and larceny. Prosecutors, who had urged a sentence of nine years for the bank robberies, said he committed many of his crimes while on probation for earlier crimes.
Earlier this year, however, US District Court Judge Mark Wolf agreed to release him seven months early - with the consent of the US Attorney's office - because he has "severe gastrointestinal issues" that he was no longer able to get adequate care for what with prison doctors being forced to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Court documents show he had a stomach ulcer severe enough that he lost a substantial amount of weight and frequently incapacitated him, and that prison doctors would not send him out for a consultation with a gastroenterologist even after a course of antibiotics failed to reduce his symptoms.
Had he been denied early release, Williams would have reached the end of his sentence this coming February.
On July 23, after testing negative on a Covid-19 test at the McCreary federal prison in Pine Knot, KY, Williams was driven to a nearby Greyhound terminal and put on a bus to Boston, along with enough money for a meal on the trip and cab fare from South Station to a relative's home in Brockton, according to court records.