A man with a long criminal record charged with robbing six area banks could be the first person in Maryland to get life in prison under the "three-strikes-and-you're-out" provision of the 1994 Crime Bill, federal prosecutors announced yesterday.
If convicted of the robbery charges, Craig B. Boone, 38, would receive a mandatory life sentence because he has two convictions considered to be "seriously violent," said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary P. Jordan.
The three strikes statute of the Crime Bill went into effect in September but it took this long to find a suspect who had a documentable history of seriously violent convictions, Mr. Jordan said.
Paperwork on convictions is often difficult to track down, he said.
"One of the problems when you deal with the recidivists is it's difficult to retrieve information showing they were guilty of serious violent felonies," Mr. Jordan said. "We've reviewed a couple of other suspects but the prior convictions were unclear and we weren't able to rely on the face of the convictions."
The three strikes provision stipulates that felons be sentenced to life if they are convicted of three "serious, violent" crimes or two violent crimes and one drug-related offense. Maryland officials said they chose their first case carefully because it will be regarded as a test for future prosecutions.
Mr. Boone, of the 1500 block of Argyle Ave., was convicted in 1974 of robbery and sentenced to four years in prison, prosecutors said. He also was sentenced in 1978 to a 20-year term for robbery with a deadly weapon, they said.
His attorney, Harold P. Dwin, couldn't be reached last night.
In both cases, prosecutors said they were able to locate charging documents and police reports that show Mr. Boone resorted to serious violence.
"The police department, thank God, retained the offense reports," Mr. Jordan said. "Short of that kind of proof, we'd have great difficulty proving that the robbery was a serious violent felony and not simply just a violent felony."
How much time Mr. Boone served in the Division of Correction is unclear because the convictions occurred so long ago. Leonard A. Sipes Jr., a state prisons spokesman, said he was unable to provide details because Mr. Boone's file is stored in the Hall of Records in Annapolis and isn't readily available.
Mr. Boone is charged in a federal indictment with stealing $24,053 from six banks -- five in Baltimore and one in Columbia -- between Jan. 5 and March 3. In each robbery, the thief claimed to have a weapon, although none was displayed, prosecutors said.
Mr. Boone also is charged in the March 19 armed robbery of a Northeast Baltimore beauty supply shop. Police said he was arrested mear the shop.
In addition to the robbery counts, Mr. Boone -- also known as Jay Mason and Samuel Said -- faces additional charges of use of a handgun in commission of a robbery and of being a felon in possession of a firearm, police said.
Prosecutors said Mr. Boone also was convicted in 1975 of breaking and entering and larceny, for which he received an 18-month jail term. Those charges aren't considered seriously violent under the provisions of the Crime Bill, however.
The three strikes provision is the result of a crime bill that President Clinton called "tough and smart."
The legislation includes stiff sentencing requirements for career criminals and authorizes the hiring of extra police.