Man Pleads Guilty to U.S. Army Reserve Weapons Theft, Jail Escape

By Reuters
November 13, 2017 Updated: November 13, 2017

BOSTON—A Massachusetts man has pleaded guilty to charges that he stole weapons from a U.S. Army Reserve facility, escaped from jail while awaiting trial for the theft, and then tried to rob two banks, federal prosecutors said on Monday, Nov. 13.

James Morales, 35, pleaded guilty in federal court in Worcester, Massachusetts, to eight counts. He was charged with possessing a machine gun and stolen firearms, attempting to commit bank robbery, and escaping federal custody among other things.

Prosecutors as part of a plea deal agreed to recommend a prison sentence of 15 years in prison when the Cambridge, Massachusetts, resident is sentenced on Feb. 8. A lawyer for Morales did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors said that in November 2015, Morales, a former Army Reservist, broke into an Army Reserve facility where he had been stationed in Worcester, about 40 miles (70 km) west of Boston, and stole six machine guns and 10 handguns.

Law enforcement tied Morales to the theft through a DNA database and an electronic monitoring bracelet he was required to wear as a condition of release on bail for a separate child rape case, prosecutors said.

Following his arrest later that month in New York state, Morales was detained at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island.

He briefly escaped on Dec. 31 a feat officials have said he pulled off by scaling a building and climbing over razor-wire fencing before stealing a getaway vehicle.

He was captured on Jan. 5 after trying twice that day to rob banks in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts, prosecutors said.

By Nate Raymond