As it turns out, Michael Charles Garcia is going against his mother’s wishes and not withdrawing his guilty plea in a 2012 bank robbery case that disrupted the federal court system.
But he may have lost a rare opportunity to receive probation for the crime.
U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey on Tuesday granted a motion by Garcia’s lawyer, Paola Armeni, to withdraw a motion she filed last week to withdraw his guilty plea.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Amber Craig told Dorsey she still intends to argue for a prison term for the 22-year-old Garcia — in short because of all the trouble Garcia and his mother, Katrina Garcia, have caused the courts.
Frustrated by months of meddling from the mother, Craig opposed Armeni’s earlier motion to withdraw the guilty plea and said she was seeking 27 months in prison for the younger Garcia because he violated the terms of the plea agreement by trying to withdraw it.
On Tuesday, Armeni told Dorsey she now believed it was in Garcia’s best interests to move forward with the guilty plea and she would argue for probation at his March 25 sentencing.
In her motion to withdraw the plea, Armeni reiterated what Garcia and his mother had been saying for months that he had felt “pressured” and “coerced” into accepting the deal by Craig and his former attorney, Todd Leventhal.
Craig contended in her response that the original deal for probation was a “generous” offer and Garcia was under no duress.
The prosecutor argued that Garcia’s mother pushed her son into reneging on the deal and in the process created all sorts of problems for the court system.
Katrina Garcia, who has said she is an unemployed paralegal, once was warned by a federal magistrate to stop filing documents behind Leventhal’s back seeking to derail the plea agreement. The mother also wrote threatening emails to Leventhal.
Her son had confessed to the FBI to driving the getaway car in the $1,600 robbery of a Citibank branch on Jan. 31, 2012.
But he didn’t plead guilty last July to that crime. Instead, he pleaded guilty to attempting to pull off the robbery of a City National Bank branch before the Citibank robbery.
In his agreement with prosecutors, Garcia acknowledged that he went inside the City National Bank but failed to carry out the robbery.
He also admitted that from there he drove his co-defendant, Matthew Dale Dewberry, to the Citibank robbery.
Dewberry, 41, who said in court his real name is Robert Gruscynski, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank robbery and one count of bank robbery. He is waiting to be sentenced.
Garcia’s mother tipped off the FBI to Dewberry’s involvement in the Citibank robbery and has been trying to collect reward money from the agency.
The tip led the FBI to the younger Garcia’s alleged role in the robbery.