FALL RIVER (WBSM) — A Fall River man with a criminal record dating back to the 1970s has been sentenced to state prison for robbing a bank and attempting to disarm a police officer.

According to Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn, career criminal Thomas Halpen, 61, will serve the next 12 to 50 years in state prison after pleading guilty this week to indictments charging him with unarmed robbery and assault and battery of a police officer with intent to disarm.

The conviction relates back to an incident on September 21, 2018, when Halpen walked into the Fall River Municipal Credit Union at about 1 p.m. wearing a knit hat with a bear face, glasses, sweatshirt and sweatpants.

He handed the teller a note demanding money and informed her that he knew where she lived. He was then given over $6,000 in cash with an embedded GPS tracking device.

That allowed authorities to locate him within about a half-hour, in the second-floor apartment of 72 Weetamoe Street. Police took him into custody and returned him to the credit union, where he was positively identified.

Police searched Halpen’s home and vehicle, and discovered the robbery note, the money and the GPS tracker in his apartment and the clothing, glasses, hat and other items in his vehicle.

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While being held in jail over the weekend, Halpen told police, unsolicited, that “he screwed up, that he needed the money and that he was going to prison for life,” according to the D.A.’s Office.

While exiting the bathroom, he lunged at a Fall River Police officer, and while attempting to overpower the officer, Halpen tried to remove the officer’s firearm from its holster. The officer was able to subdue him, and he and other officers got Halpen back in shackles.

According to D.A. Quinn, Halpen has been incarcerated many times over the past four decades for crimes ranging from armed robbery to forgery to breaking and entering and assault-related crimes.

Courtesy Fall River Police
Courtesy Fall River Police

“The defendant is a career criminal who should have been in state prison for a prior robbery when he committed this robbery,” D.A. Quinn said. “He clearly is a danger to the public and the sentence ensures that society will be protected from the defendant for the rest of his life.”

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