A Father’s Fall From Grace

Chicago Tribune

A former community leader whose series of bank robberies ended when his police officer son helped tip off authorities was sentenced to 40 years in prison Thursday.

William Alfred Ginglen, whose descent from Jaycees president, auxiliary police officer and zoning chairman to a cocaine-using robber garnered national news coverage, wept at his sentencing in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Ill.

“He was so emotional that he was only able to say, ‘I want to apologize to everyone,’ ” Ginglen’s lawyer, Ronald Hamm, said after the hearing, at which Ginglen was ordered to pay $56,382 in restitution.

Ginglen, 64, pleaded guilty in July to committing seven small-town bank robberies in central Illinois from November 2003 to July 2004 that netted him about $60,000. For that plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend a prison sentence at the lower end of federal guidelines.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Patrick J. Chesley, who prosecuted the case, contended Ginglen robbed the banks to support a girlfriend, her daughter and a crack-cocaine habit. Ginglen also spent the money on prostitutes, Chesley said.


“It’s definitely a severe sentence,” Chesley said after the hearing. “But he committed some very serious crimes that deserve severe punishment.”

Ginglen shocked the community with his arrest Aug. 20, 2004, outside his girlfriend’s home in Champaign, Ill.

Authorities found him after one of this son’s -- a Peoria police officer -- read a newspaper story about the bank robberies. Jared Ginglen visited a sheriff’s website where he viewed bank surveillance photographs of the robber.

He contacted his two brothers and the three agreed that the man in the pictures was their father. They called authorities. William Ginglen was arrested the next morning.

In a November interview, Ginglen talked about his drug habit and crime spree, saying that his way of life “was really a case of a severe and ongoing depression” after being laid off from companies that were downsizing.

In a journal detailing his exploits, Ginglen wrote: “I’m in trouble and there seems to be no way out. I’ve tried almost everything, without success. I’m tired of borrowing from friends, and tired of rejection by employers. What can I do?”

His lawyer, a high school classmate, said Ginglen was depressed by the sentence.

On Thursday, one of his sons, Clay Ginglen, said he hoped the sentencing was “the first step in the final chapter in this mess.”

“The whole thing is just sad,” he added. “It’s kind of like taking an initial pain and stretching it out to make it last a whole lot longer than it needed to.”

The media have swarmed around him and his brothers in recent months, he said.

But he and his brothers have made several appearances on national television shows and have been offered a movie contract.

They remain steadfast in their belief that they acted responsibly in alerting authorities to their father’s crimes.

“We saved his life,” Clay Ginglen said, “and we probably saved other peoples’ lives.”