By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Two mothers silently wept Thursday morning in federal court while their children, Jason Fox and his wife, Tasha Fox, stood to receive their sentences for a string of bank robberies that crossed state lines to include banks in Tennessee.
Jason Fox got 20 years — Tasha Fox received 10 years — and both will serve their sentences in federal custody.
Dubbed “The Bad Hair Bandits,” the couple robbed a total of five banks together in Kentucky — Jason Fox robbed two more banks in Tennessee.
Jason Fox, 32, and Tasha Fox, 28, both sporting the typical orange jumpsuit and handcuffed and shackled, appeared with their attorneys before Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove.
Jason Fox sat with his attorney, Patrick Nash, while Tasha Fox sat behind her husband with her attorney, David Hoskins.
Sam Dotson, with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in London, represented the federal government.
Van Tatenhove began the hearing explaining that after the couple entered guilty pleas in April, a pre-sentencing report was ordered and completed.
The judge added that because the pair entered those guilty pleas, that would be reflected in their sentences — but not much.
It was also noted that the court had received and considered letters from both sides of the case — several victims in the robberies as well as family members of the now-convicted robbers sent written responses to the court.
Then it was time for Dotson to make his case concerning the final sentence — and he started with Jason Fox.
He explained that when reviewing any case for sentencing, that both mitigating and aggravating circumstances are included in the final decision.
“In this particular case, (there is) very little in mitigating factors,” Dotson told the court. “But there (are) a lot of aggravating factors.”
Dotson said as the robberies continued, the violence escalated.
“(This was) not one bank robbery, but a series of bank robberies,” he said.
He also described the first robbery involved a simple note, while further robberies became more threatening toward bank personnel and eventually included the use of a firearm.
“When I read the pre-sentencing report (last night and this morning), it almost seemed to me (that Jason Fox) was becoming more comfortable with what he was doing,” Dotson said.
He referred then to the impact letters from the victims in those robberies, as well as Jason Fox’s criminal history.
“(He is) no stranger to trouble,” Dotson said. “(And) he’s no stranger to violent acts.”
He then reviewed Jason Fox’s criminal history, which includes three burglaries, “two pages worth” of domestic violence cases and a prior felony conviction.
“He has exhibited no fear (and) no respect for the law,” Dotson said. “Really, I almost hesitate to say this, but looking at (Jason Fox’s) history, (he has) exhibited very few redeeming qualities.”
Dotson added that he wasn’t saying Jason Fox could never change. “But to date, he has not,” he said.
Dotson asked for just over 24 years in federal prison for Jason Fox, and requested the maximum allowable supervised release of five years — adding he “wished there was an option (for a) greater term of supervised release.”
He also requested restitution topping $80,000.
Dotson then moved on to the second defendant in this case — Jason Fox’s wife Tasha Fox.
“I have a different take on this,” Dotson said, adding that while looking through the nature and circumstances of the robberies, Tasha Fox “was never inside (any) of the facilities.”
In fact, Tasha Fox drove the getaway vehicle. Dotson said she also bought the firearm her husband used during the robberies.
In reviewing her pre-sentence report, Dotson told the court he felt her two prior convictions “relate to her relationship with Mr. Fox.”
Dotson said this situation does not excuse her decisions.
“(She’s) suffered from the influence he’s had in her life,” he said. “If she (can) overcome her addiction issues (while incarcerated), I don’t expect her before the court (again).”
Then it was time for the defense counsel to present their sides of the issues — and it began with Nash, Jason Fox’s attorney.
“(There’s) nothing (I can) say to diminish the seriousness of this case,” Nash said, adding that his client recognizes the impact his decisions made on the victims of the robberies.
But Nash said he wanted to “talk about Jason.”
“(The) person that the court…and prosecution sees is not at the core (of) the guy that he is,” he said. “He came from a good and accomplished family.”
Nash said that after graduating high school with good grades, Jason Fox went on to attend college.
“During college, (he) got caught up in the…epidemic of drug abuse,” he said.
He explained that at age 19, Jason Fox began to abuse prescription pills.
“He got addicted,” Nash said. “He got addicted severely.”
He explained that after Jason Fox was hooked on the pills, that’s when his criminal history was launched.
“He has battled,” Nash said, describing that many times he would hold a job down for a year or more. “(But he has) depression issues too.”
He said that Jason Fox’s addiction and depression issues would “fuel one another.”
“He (would do) well, but he would always backslide,” Nash said, adding that Jason Fox was caring for his wife, their two children, and his parents. “And he was just not succeeding.”
Nash also told the court that Jason Fox had written apology letters to the banks he robbed.
“He’s extremely remorseful,” he said. “And I submit those are genuine feelings in those letters.”
He did “take issue” with the statement Dotson made earlier in the hearing that it almost seemed that Jason Fox “enjoyed” what he was doing.
“There’s no evidence Jason ever enjoyed any of this,” Nash said. “(These) were acts of desperation…acts of addiction.”
The attorney recommended that Jason Fox receive drug rehabilitation treatment and a mental health assessment.
“(After serving his sentence), we all want him to be a person to function in society,” Nash said. “(In order to do that), there has to be an element of hope in sentencing.”
He told the court he felt a near 25-year sentence would be “crushing” and “overly punitive,” — and asked the court for a variance in sentencing to allow for 15 years behind bars.
Then Tasha Fox’s attorney stood to speak for her — and right away told the court he was also seeking a variance in her sentence.
“I appreciate the comments (Dotson) made,” Hoskins said, adding that he agreed with Dotson’s assessment of Tasha Fox. “We know she (will) get a lengthy sentence — we know the court will impose that.”
He added that she has been jailed for nearly two years.
“She has taken advantage of every opportunity to get rehabilitation and help in jail,” Hoskins said. “(She has) certificates for what she’s done and what her commitment level has been.”
He then shared the certificates with Van Tatenhove, and added that Tasha Fox “has attended every church service” offered at the detention center.
He also told of Tasha Fox having “a good work history,” adding that she spent five years working for the same cardiologist “who would consider her for rehire.”
Hoskins eventually asked for her sentence to be nine years.
Jason Fox then was given an opportunity to speak on his own behalf.
“I really don’t know where to begin,” he started, then paused a moment or two. “I’m dead guilty of everything that’s been said about me today.
“I feel horrible about those things (I said) to the women at these banks,” he continued. “I want to formally apologize — I’m sorry for what I said to them, and I apologize to my mom. I want to say I’m sorry to my mother-in-law and my family.”
He also apologized to his wife.
“If she wasn’t with me she’d never be in a situation like this,” he said.
Then it was time for Van Tatenhove to levy the sentence.
“No one leaves here today without a significant period of incarceration,” he said, adding that he took the sense of security away from those banks’ employees. “This is serious — we don’t want to live in a community where these violent acts occur.”
He told Jason Fox that after reviewing the pre-sentencing report, “you have issues that make us less safe.”
He agreed with Dotson’s assessment that there were no mitigating factors that could help ease Jason Fox’s sentence.
“You just should have known better,” Van Tatenhove said.
With that, the judge handed down a 20-year sentence for Jason Fox, adding the five years of supervised release.
He also faces restitution payments as follows:
— $1,500 to an unnamed victim;
— $4,587 to Community Bank in Barbourville;
— $20,688 to the Bank of McCreary in Pine Knot;
— $28,966.88 to Forcht Bank in Barbourville;
— $2,775 to Hometown Bank in Corbin;
— $3,027 to L & N Federal Credit Union in Williamsburg;
— $5,314 to First Volunteer Bank in Jellico, Tenn.; and,
— $13,170.50 to Y12 Federal Credit Union in Jacksboro, Tenn.
The total amount of restitution owed by Jason Fox is $80,028.38 — and payments are slated to begin immediately.
Tasha Fox, who also shed some tears during the hearing, then got her chance to speak to the court.
“I want to apologize to the courts and to my family and those I hurt,” she said. “(I want to ) take this time and do better (for) myself.”
Van Tatenhove then sentenced her.
“I don’t think we’ll see you here again,” he told her. “(And the) punishment will be the hardest part for you.”
He then said there were “not a whole lot” of mitigating issues.
“You were completely complicit with it,” Van Tatenhove said. “You made a choice that took you down a path to bring you here today in an orange jumpsuit.”
With that, Tasha Fox was handed a 10-year sentence for her part in four of the crimes — she is also responsible for $57,956 of the more than $80,000 stolen in these robberies.
She was the driver for the robberies at the Bank of McCreary, Forcht Bank, Hometown Bank and the L & N Federal Credit Union.
The couple has been jailed in the Pulaski County Detention Center, and will be transferred to a federal facility.
Man receives 20 years, wife gets 10 years
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