ALBANY — The Glens Falls man who robbed a bank in Lake George nearly two years ago pleaded guilty Monday to a federal charge as trial in his case was to begin.
Nelson L. Gouge Sr., 47, pleaded guilty to felony bank robbery in U.S. District Court for the Jan. 12, 2018 holdup of the Trustco Bank branch on Route 9L.
He admitted handing a teller a note that read that he had a weapon, prompting her to pile $4,301 in cash in a bag he brought with him before he ran off.
Gouge was wearing a mask and hooded sweatshirt that concealed part of his face, but numerous local police officers recognized him from bank surveillance video because of his extensive local criminal history. He was located hours later at the Clearview Motel in South Glens Falls, where he had booked a room using some of the stolen cash.
In all, $1,714 of the stolen money was recovered.
Gouge was facing a litany of domestic violence charges at the time for beating his then-girlfriend in Glens Falls. He ultimately pleaded guilty in that case and was sentenced to 6 to 12 years in state prison.
He faces up to 20 additional years behind bars for the bank robbery, a term that could be run consecutively to the domestic violence charges.
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Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Barnett said he faces a minimum of 6 years and 5 months in prison for the bank heist.
“The estimated, non-binding sentencing guidelines range is 77 to 96 months,” Barnett said. “He waived appeal of a sentence of 115 months or less.”
In May 2018, Gouge could have taken a plea deal that would have netted him a total of 4.5 to 9 years for all of his charges.
Instead, after 20 months of legal wrangling, he took a deal for a stiffer sentence for repeatedly attacking his girlfriend and was indicted in federal court when he refused to accept responsibility for the bank robbery in Warren County Court.
He could have faced up to life in prison as a “persistent” felon, because he had two prior felony convictions that resulted in state prison sentences.
He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino on Feb. 7, 2020.
His lawyer, Lawrence Elmen, said he had no comment on the case Monday.