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Man pleads guilty to U.S. Army Reserve weapons theft, jail escape
November 14, 2017 / 12:10 AM / 7 days ago

Man pleads guilty to U.S. Army Reserve weapons theft, jail escape

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Massachusetts man has pleaded guilty to charges that he stole weapons from a U.S. Army Reserve facility, escaped from jail awaiting trial for the theft and then tried to rob two banks, federal prosecutors said on Monday.

A wanted poster distributed by the Massachusetts State Police January 2, 2017 of James Morales, 35, who is wanted in connection with stealing weapons from a U.S. Army Reserve Center in Massachusetts. Massachusetts State Police/Handout via Reuters

James Morales, 35, pleaded guilty in federal court in Worcester, Massachusetts, to eight counts charging him with among other things possessing a machine gun and stolen firearms; attempting to commit bank robbery; and escaping federal custody.

Prosecutors as part of a plea deal agreed to recommend a prison sentence of 15 years in prison when the Cambridge, Massachusetts, resident is sentenced on Feb. 8. A lawyer for Morales did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors said that in November 2015, Morales, a former Army Reservist, broke into an Army Reserve facility where he had been stationed in Worcester, about 40 miles (70 km) west of Boston, and stole six machine guns and 10 handguns.

Law enforcement tied Morales to the theft through a DNA database and an electronic monitoring bracelet he was required to wear as a condition of release on bail for a separate child rape case, prosecutors said.

Following his arrest later that month in New York state, Morales was detained at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island.

He briefly escaped on Dec. 31, a feat officials have said he pulled off by scaling a building and climbing over razor-wire fencing before stealing a getaway vehicle.

He was captured on Jan. 5 after trying twice that day to rob banks in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts, prosecutors said.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by James Dalgleish

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