At sentencing, Girard Kalinay, 56, apologizes for string of area bank robberies.

Last updated: April 27. 2013 12:00AM - 3994 Views

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WILKES-BARRE — Susan Kleiner said she sees admitted bank robber Girard Kalinay’s face whenever she closes her eyes.

She can visualize him walking into the Luzerne National Bank in Dallas Township, where 15 months ago he threw a balloon filled with what he claimed was acid and demand money.

Authorities portrayed Kalinay as someone who turned to robbing banks to maintain his lifestyle. He told police he was having money problems. Kalinay later lost his $80,000-a-year job at Air Products and Chemicals in Tamaqua.

“I’ll never forget you yelling … threatening us,” Kleiner, a bank worker, said Friday at Kalinay’s sentencing hearing at which he received six years, six months to 13 years, three months in state prison. “I see your face every time I close my eyes…. I’m afraid … I’m angry.”

Kalinay, 56, of Pine Street, Harveys Lake, was sentenced on three counts of robbery by Luzerne County Judge Michael Vough. He pleaded guilty in January to robbing banks in Dallas Township, Mocanaqua and Noxen.

“I’m not a violent man,” Kalinay said before being sentenced. “I (committed the robberies) out of shear desperation … and reasons I still don’t know.”

Kalinay told police he used the money to fix his wife’s car and to pay credit card bills.

Kalinay apologized to several bank workers who attended Friday’s hearing as well as to Vough for committing the crimes.

Vough permitted Kalinay to say goodbye to his wife and family and friends who attended the hearing before being handcuffed and later taken to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. Kalinay had been free on bail since June 2012 after he used his $400,000 home as means of posting bail.

Kalinay’s attorney, William Ruzzo, said he understood why his client had to face a lengthy prison term, but asked Vough to consider his client’s background, age and lack of a criminal record. “He’s very unlikely to re-offend,” Ruzzo said. “He has everything going for him.”

Sentencing Kalinay was difficult because of the seriousness of the crimes he committed and the fact that he had no prior record, Vough said.

The judge said, ultimately, he was imposing a mandatory minimum of five to 10 years on one of the charges, and a lesser sentence — 10 to 20 months — on the remaining two charges. All sentences were ordered to run consecutive to one another.

Between November 2011 and May 2012, Kalinay robbed the Luzerne National Bank in Dallas Township, the First Liberty Bank and Trust in Noxen, Wyoming County, and a PNC Branch in Mocanaqua.

In the Dallas Township incident, police say Kalinay used the balloon — which they later learned was filled with ammonia — to rob the bank in November 2011.

In January 2012, police said Kalinay used a pellet gun to hold up the Mocanaqua bank.

Four months later, Kalinay robbed the Noxen bank because of its remote location, according to court papers. Kalinay told police he used a pellet gun in that robbery as well because his first robbery with the balloons didn’t turn out well.

Kalinay was ordered to pay a total of $35,473 in restitution and received 34 days credit for time already served in prison.

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