Oklahoma City bank robber sentenced to 16 years in prison

Wednesday, September 29th 2004, 6:34 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A career criminal has been sentenced to 16 years in a federal prison after telling a judge he robbed banks to gain power over his inner demons.

"I found out I didn't love money, but I just thought I did," Richard Ward Pruden said before he was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge David L. Russell.

"I was trying to steal power," Pruden said. "I was running out of power on my own. I've been going crazy my whole life...The way for me is in this institution. This is where I have a keeper."

Although he pleaded for prison time, Pruden, 40, of Fernley, Nev., stopped short of asking for the maximum penalty of about 19 years. Instead Pruden asked for the minimum possible sentence of 15 years and eight months.

Russell opted for something in the middle, sentencing Pruden to 16 years and eight months in prison for robbing banks in Elk City; Reno, Nev.; and Truckee, Calif.

Russell also ordered Pruden to pay back about $30,000 he stole from the Nevada and California banks. Russell said the nearly $40,000 he took from First National Bank in Elk City on Feb. 12 was returned after his arrest.

Before sentencing Pruden, the judge also recounted six bank robberies throughout the United States that Pruden was convicted of in the early 1990s.

"I want to apologize to the people who work in the banks for scaring them and putting their safety at risk," Pruden said.

Pruden said he always hoped he would be caught because he craved a controlled environment to fight what he said doctors had diagnosed as incurable paranoia and other symptoms of insanity.

"Once I robbed that first bank, I didn't have anything to worry about because I knew the FBI would put me in retirement real quick," he said.