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6th Circuit: 45 Years Too Harsh for 'Bank-Robbing Pimp'

Arthur Payton, the serial bank robber once profiled by Oprah Winfrey for hiring prostitutes to carry out his heists, will get a chance at a shorter sentence.

Cutline: A panel of judges from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a 45-year prison sentence given a notorious bank robber who used prostitutes to carry out his crimes and said it was unusually harsh. (Photo: wikimedia commons)
Cutline: A panel of judges from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a 45-year prison sentence given a notorious bank robber who used prostitutes to carry out his crimes and said it was unusually harsh. (Photo: wikimedia commons)

By Courtney Bledsoe

A 45-year sentence given to a convicted serial bank robber who hired prostitutes to carry out his heists was overturned Thursday by a federal appeals court.

After he was convicted in 2012 on four counts of bank robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit bank robbery Arthur Payton, 47, was sentenced to 45 years in prison. The panel of three judges from 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the sentence was overly harsh and overturned it, the Detroit News reports.

Payton’s unique style of robbery gained national notoriety when he was dubbed a “bank-robbing pimp” in an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” titled “Women Coerced into Robbing Banks.”

The judges noted in the ruling that Payton convinced the prostitutes to participate in the hold-ups in exchange for a share of the haul, then gave them toy guns, threatening notes, toy guns and everything else they needed to pull off the crime.

Throughout his career as a bank robber, he held up 17 banks, the most recent four in Oakland and Wayne counties, where he got away with $8,000, The Detroit News said.

The judges’ ruling sends Payton’s case back to U.S. District Court for reconsideration.

The 45-year sentence given Payton in 2012 by U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Zatkoff was 20 years more than federal prosecutors requested. He didn’t explain why he tacked an additional quarter of a century onto the sentence, but it means Payton will remain in prison until he’s 91, and the judges said Zatoff needs to explain that.

Payton is serving his federal sentence in a West Virginia prison.

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