Up to five years in prison for Lee man who attempted bank robbery in Pittsfield

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PITTSFIELD — "Top drawer, right now."

That's what Christopher Rock told a Berkshire Bank teller on Sept 17, moments before fleeing with about $2,000 cash.

He was arrested later that day after the cab driver who picked him up after the robbery alerted police that a passenger matched the description of the suspect.

Rock, 37, of Lee, was sentenced to up to five years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to three charges connected to the robbery at the Elm Street branch.

He waived his right to have his case presented to a Berkshire grand jury and, instead, opted to proceed directly to arraignment and a guilty plea, via a district attorney's complaint.

Rock admitted that he walked into the bank about 10:45 a.m., approached the teller, threw a plastic shopping bag on the counter and demanded cash in $50 and $20 denominations.

He handed over a note written on a piece of cardboard, but retrieved it before the teller could read it.

After he fled, police brought in a search dog, which tracked Rock to nearby Deming Park, where in a dumpster police found the piece of cardboard as well as some of the clothing he'd worn into the bank. The dog lost the trail on Superior Street.

Police were soon notified that a local cab driver had heard a description of the suspect being sought in the robbery, and said he had picked up a man matching that description on Superior Street and dropped him off at Madison Avenue and Seymour Street.

The cab fare was $7.30; Rock paid with a $20 bill and told the driver to keep the change before entering a residence.

When police responded to the house, the door was answered by Rock, who matched the descriptions from the teller and from surveillance images collected from the bank and taxi, including having a distinctive neck tattoo.

When he was arrested, he had packets of heroin he apparently purchased after robbing the bank.

Rock pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court to one count each of unarmed robbery, possession of heroin and larceny over $1,200.

He said he wasn't aware of the larceny charge until Judge John Agostini read it into the record, but he agreed to plead guilty as long as it wouldn't incur a harsher sentence than was already agreed to by his attorney, Thomas Donohue, and Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Gregory Barry.

Agostini sentenced him to four to five years in prison, to be served at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@berkshireeagle.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.

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