By Paula Horton Tri-City Herald
TRI-CITIES — Eight months before going on a Tri-City robbery spree, a career criminal told the Tri-City Herald that he’d end up back in prison because there’s no help for ex-cons.
Troy Lee Fuller, 48, who already has spent the majority of his adult life in federal prison, is expected to be sentenced today to an exceptional 19-year prison term.
The West Richland man pleaded guilty last month in Benton County Superior Court to three counts of first-degree robbery and one count of threats to bomb.
Fuller robbed Bank of the West in Kennewick on Aug. 18, U.S. Bank in downtown Kennewick on Aug. 21 and a Richland Rite Aid store on Aug. 25.
During the bank robberies he gave a note to the teller and demanded “loose 100s and 50s,” court documents said.
When he hit Rite Aid, he told the manager he had a bomb strapped to his chest, documents said. The manager gave Fuller $700 from the store safe after she saw a black object strapped to his body.
He was arrested the next day at a Pasco motel.
Fuller, who has previous bank robbery convictions from Arizona, was released in December 2008 from a federal prison, where he was serving time for a supervised release violation.
He had spent a total of 22 years behind bars, according to a letter he wrote to the Herald in December 2008, five days after his release.
Fuller complained about not receiving money from a special fund established to help inmates once they are released. Fuller said he was eligible for up to $500 in release money.
“I’m not looking for a handout. Just a chance to stay out of prison,” Fuller wrote. “I’m a hardworking, compassionate and forgiving person. A lot of men are being released from prison right now. With no help or support they return to a life of crime out of anger and frustration.”
Fuller also attached a letter that he sent to his community corrections manager, the U.S. attorney general, a federal judge in Spokane and President Barack Obama.
He said he was released from prison in Sheridan, Ore., in the middle of winter without a coat.
All he was given was a yellow envelope with $60, which he used to buy a $48 bus ticket to Pasco, $6 for lunch and $2 for a local bus ride to the Franklin County Community Corrections Center.
“I am currently sitting here at the work release center (in Pasco) with one set of clothes and no support from family and friends. After 22 years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons that support is long gone,” Fuller wrote. “The current recidivism rate in this country is off the charts. I’ve been placed out here in society with no support. Are you surprised so many of us return to crime in order to provide ourselves with the simple necessities like clean underwear, shoes, a coat in the winter and a toothbrush?”
Fuller said if he had gotten the release money he was eligible for, he would have used it to buy bus passes and to go to Goodwill to buy clothes to wear on a job search.
“Congress made that money available to federal prisoners upon their release for a reason,” he wrote. “It gives them a chance to reincorporate with a bit of dignity and hope.”
Eight months and two days later, Fuller robbed the Bank of the West branch on Canal Drive.
Information from Tri-City Herald, www.tri-cityherald.com.