Man who robbed Fraser, Frisco banks avoids federal prosecution

A man who robbed banks in Fraser and Frisco has been sentenced to prison time for his crimes, avoiding federal prosecution.

James W. Smith, 57, was sentenced to five years in prison for felony robbery by Grand County Court Judge Mary Hoak on Jan. 27 in a plea that kept Smith from federal charges and prosecution.

Smith will also serve three years of mandatory parole and pay more than $2,100 in court costs and restitution. He received credit for 239 days of time served.

Smith robbed the United Business Bank in Fraser twice last year, with the first in January and the second in June, which led to his arrest. Smith did not use a weapon, but passed notes to bank staff asking for money.

In court on Jan. 27, Hoak noted how rare Smith’s case was, considering he was a substitute teacher with a Master’s degree who had no criminal history.

“I will say this Mr. Smith, you’re one of the most unique individuals who has come before me,” Hoak said. “Given your level of education, how smart you are and the fact that you have no criminal history, to suddenly have a bank robbery is extremely unusual.”

Smith didn’t give any indication as to what caused him to commit the robberies, but he apologized multiple times, specifically expressing remorse for scaring the bank staff.

“I’m really sorry about what happened and I was wrong for what I did,” he said. “It was unfair for me to take (the community’s) peace of mind.”

Kathryn Dowdell, the chief deputy attorney for the 14th Judicial District, said the investigation revealed Smith was in a lot of debt and had planned the robberies ahead of time. Dowdell said she worked with the U.S. assistant district attorney for Colorado on the plea deal.

Smith was also convicted of robbing the Credit Union of the Rockies in Frisco in January 2021. Summit County Judge Karen Romeo sentenced him on Jan. 31 to five years in prison, concurrent to his Grand County sentence.

Summit County also required Smith to pay more than $13,500 in court costs and restitution. Smith will receive credit for 243 days time served.


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