CONCORD, NH – Anthony Shea, a member of a violent Massachusetts gang behind dozens of bank robberies and armored car heists is getting the jail term in one of his convictions lessened thanks to a new ruling from the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
Shea was part of a gang that terrorized New England with more than 100 robberies over the years, including a New Hampshire armored car robbery that left two security guards dead.
Shea was sentenced in 1998 on felonies for his role in an armed bank robbery in Londonderry. In a separate case, also brought in the United States District Court in Concord, Shea and members of the gang were sentenced to life in prison on 54 federal felonies, including charges related to the 1995 Hudson armored car robbery that left the two guards dead.
On Friday, Judge Paul Barbadoro resentenced Shea in the Londonderry case after prosecutors were forced to drop one of the charges because of the appeal. Assistant United States Attorney Seth Aframe said the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that one of the original 1990s charges, that Shea is a career criminal, was Constitutionally flawed. Aframe is dropping that charge, requiring a new sentence.
Shea presented letters and evidence that he’s reformed in his decades in prison, and is deserving of a lesser sentence.
“I spent many hours drafting many letters to express how I feel today,” Shea said.
Shea is active in prison ministry, spending many hours volunteering at the chapel, according to his letter. He has pursued his education, and helped other inmates work toward their GEDs, he wrote. Shea also wrote that he devotes to time crocheting hats and clothing for children with cancer.
Barbadoro cautioned Shea that while his rehabilitation is admirable, he still needed to consider the actions that led to the convictions.
“I’m not just considering the Anthony Shea of today, but I’m considering the Anthony Shea who was an unrepentant gangster terrorizing people with violent bank robberies,” Barbadoro said.
Shea’s new sentence is for between 120 to 150 months in prison on the Londonderry bank robbery case. The new sentence is unlikely to matter as he is still sentenced to life in prison along with his other gang members. Shea’s attorney, Jeff Levin, said there is an effort underway to appeal the life sentence.
David Vicinanzo, an attorney with Nixon Peabody, was one of the original prosecutors on the case, and he does not want to see Shea ever leave prison.
“There are certain criminals, thankfully few in number, who demonstrate at a fairly young age that they can never be trusted to follow the law or to refrain from hurting people,” Vicinanzo said. “In my view, Anthony Shea and the other ruthless criminals involved in the Hudson armored truck murders fall in that category and should never be released from prison.”
According to the Associated Press, Shea, along with Patrick McGonagle, Michael O’Halloran, Stephen Burke, and Matthew McDonald, were all from the same rough neighborhood in Charlestown, Mass., and their gang was responsible for more than 100 armed robberies and made off with millions of dollars. All five men are serving life sentences.