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Elba robbery defendant reportedly sterling citizen prior to alleged crime

mug-Abrams-Dennis.jpgDennis M. Abrams, one of the three men accused of robbing the M&T Bank in Elba on June 18, was, according to his attorney, a respectable, upstanding, taxpaying citizen prior to the alleged crime and subsequent chase and six-hour manhunt.

Abrams reportedly has no prior criminal record, is employed full time (with a collections agency that is supposedly keeping his job open for him), married and expecting the couple's first child in a month on their fourth anniversary. Abrams is also a foster father to his wife's nieces.

Yet, Dennis M. Abrams, 26, is also accused of using a pistol he bought and registered to put a teller "in fear of her life," according to District Attorney Lawrence Friedman.

In his written confession, Abrams reportedly admits to waiving his gun in the air inside the bank. Friedman said a teller tells a different story. She said Abrams pointed the gun at her head.

Friedman said Abrams admitted to hatching the bank robbery plan and driving his vehicle to and from Elba, after removing the license plates to help avoid identification.

Abrams, and co-defendant Demone D. Dillon, 25, both plead not guilty to three counts each of robbery. The third defendant, Michael J. Wells, 24, appears in court to answer the charges on Monday.

They are both being held on $250,000 bail and $500,000 bond.

Abrams has retained renowned defense attorney Paul Cambria, who is currently also representing Scott Doll, who is accused of killing a business associate in Pembroke. Daniel Killelea appeared today on behalf of Cambria.

With at least a dozen friends and family members, as well as his pastor, present, Killelea tried to convince Judge Robert Noonan to reduce his bail to $25,000.

"I think Mr. Abrams isn't typical of a defendant who stands before the court accused of bank robbery," Killelea said. "He has an actual life beyond the charges currently before the court."

Killelea also noted the Abrams gave himself up within 15 minutes of the manhunt starting and cooperated fully with law enforcement from the moment of his arrest.

Friedman countered that Abrams is accused of being the mastermind, the getaway driver and the man who owned and used a loaded handgun to help commit the crime.

"I'm confident in the strength of the people's case," Friedman said. "Mr. Abrams gave a full written confession. I find it hard to believe that a reputable collections agency would continue to keep him employed."

Noonan said that while he was mindful of Abrams clean background, he had to take into consideration the nature of the crime.

"I'm extremely shocked that a licensed handgun was used by the licensee in such a brazen manner," Noonan said. Noonan said that in 30 years he's only seen a licensee us his own gun in a crime once. "This never happens," Noonan added.

The trio allegedly left the bank with more than $20,000, according to Friedman.

Abrams' uncle, John Abrams, was among the family members in court. He seemed eager to talk about the case, but was advised by Killelea not to speak with the media. John Abrams -- who is reportedly in law enforcement and showed up at the State Police Barracks in Batavia during the manhunt to encourage Dennis Abrams to continue cooperating with the police -- did say there are two sides to the story and more to the case than what has come out so far.

Contrasted with Abrams, Dillon does reportedly have a prior record. He reportedly also has parole and probation violations in his past.

Cooper Hawley
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"I'm extremely shocked that a licensed handgun was used by the licensee in such a brazen manner," Noonan said. Noonan said that in 30 years he's only seen a licensee us his own gun in a crime once. "This never happens," Noonan added. Judge Noonan proves why gun control advocates are correct to claim that we need stricter controls on just who can buy a gun.
Michael Anderson
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Sterling citizen?? Sterling citizens don't rob banks and threaten other peoples lives. Not only in the bank but the surrounding towns in which they fled to. Give me a break...and he wants his bail lowered?? Guess he should have thought about that long before he was going to committ a crime. He is where he belongs right now.
Andrew Erbell
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Maybe so, but how many of the other folks on the blotter are caught on video tape midst crime?
Peter O'Brien
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Cooper, if in the judge experience only 2 people who were licensed ever used their gun in an illegal fashion, then the gun control laws that are on the book are just fine. More gun control will do nothing to take the guns away from criminals. Only people who obey the law will be affected and will make society a more dangerous place.
Rita Vigiano
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Abrams reportedly has no prior criminal record, is employed full time (with a collections agency that is supposedly keeping his job open for him), married and expecting the couple's first child in a month on their fourth anniversary. Abrams is also a foster father to his wife's nieces. Was he he thinking of any of them while he was committing such a crime? NOPE! I do not feel bad for any of them especially him, does he think just because he had or has a full time job wife and kids thats ok. Sorry but none of what is wrote there makes me feel remotely sorry for him. He knew what he was doing when he did it and should of known the consequences. They have ruined at least 2 peoples lives that work at that bank and they will have to deal with what happened that day for the rest of their life! In my eyes they should get the book thrown at them and I hope justice is served!
Laura Russell Ricci
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He has a hell of a lawyer, that's for sure. I was swayed to think "hey maybe he's right". Then like Rita said did he think of his wife, job or kids? He made a choice to allegedly commit this crime. If he did cooperate with authorities, this should be reflected only in his sentencing.
Rita Vigiano
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The prosecutor, citing statements signed by Abrams after he was taken into custody, said he was the person who planned the robbery. Abrams spotted the bank as he drove by as he made regular visits to an inmate at Orleans Correctional Facility <---- Now this should read loud and clear to all that he is SCUM! But lets feel sorry for him, give me a break! Hopefully he and the other 2 will be sitting in Orleans Corr. Fac. SOON!
Rita Vigiano
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No one directly said it but the way his lawyer is making it sound and come off as is that people should give him a break. Guess I should of clarified alittle bit better.
Cooper Hawley
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Pete - I was hoping the sarcasm in my words came through. I'll try and do better next time!
Peter O'Brien
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Sorry I misread it. Like I always say, tone is hard to read in text.
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