Imprisoned felon Leon Glaspie, who allegedly injured a Deptford police officer during Glaspie's getaway from a bank robbery while he was on furlough from a halfway house, could soon be a free man.
And he'll have a technicality to thank for his early release from prison.
A three-judge state Appellate Court panel this week overturned Glaspie’s conviction in the 2008 robbery of The Bank (now known as Fulton Bank) in Woodbury.
The state Attorney General’s office will ask the New Jersey Supreme Court to review the lower court’s ruling, a spokesman for the attorney general confirmed Friday.
Glaspie won’t be released from prison until the state Supreme Court decides whether it will hear the case, said Bernie Weisenfeld, spokesman for the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office.
In a 14-page, published decision, the Appellate Court judges ruled authorities violated a federal law prohibiting defendants from being “shuttled” back and forth between states, or from federal to state custody while charges are pending. The intent of the law is to prevent defendants from being removed from rehabilitation programs and to prevent states from being saddled with housing costs for inmates from other jurisdictions.
New Jersey adopted the law, known as the Interstate Agreement on Detainers, decades ago. At the time, a provision in the law required judges to dismiss with prejudice charges in cases where the law was violated. In 1988, Congress amended the law to allow the courts have discretion in dismissing charges in these cases with or without prejudice.
However, New Jersey never modified the language in its version of the law to allow for this change.
Under the appellate court's decision, which ordered the charges dismissed with prejudice, Glaspie, 29, cannot be retried in the bank robbery.
(To read the appellate court’s decision in the case, click on the PDF above.)
On November 5, 2008, while serving a five-year federal sentence for conspiracy to distribute cocaine, Glaspie was furloughed from a halfway house in Philadelphia so he could look for a job.
Instead, authorities said, he and a co-defendant, 49-year-old Darryl Adams of Philadelphia, drove to New Jersey and robbed The Bank.
When he pleaded guilty on March 3, 2011, to the bank robbery, Glaspie said under oath in court: “I participated in the bank robbery. I screamed ‘down’ upon entering the bank,” according to an account provided by prosecutors.
After robbing the bank, Glaspie and Adams fled in a getaway car, which crashed head-on into a Deptford police cruiser on Clements Bridge Road, causing Deptford Police Sgt. Chris Thomas to suffer serious injuries to his mouth, prosecutors said.
Adams was arrested a short distance from the crash scene. Glaspie, whom authorities said was driving the getaway car, fled and remained a fugitive until his arrest in Philadelphia on Nov. 24, 2008.
Glaspie was being held in a federal detention center on the escape charge when he was transported to Gloucester County to face charges in the bank-robbery case. The state argued to the Appellate Division that the shuttling law didn't apply to Glaspie then, because he wasn't actually serving time in a federal prison.
Glaspie, a Philadelphia resident, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison for the bank robbery, with a requirement that he serve 85 percent of his sentence, or eight years and six months. Adams received a seven-year state prison sentence.
Five others people were charged with helping Glaspie flee after the bank robbery and crash. Two were sentenced to state prison, one to pretrial intervention and charges were dismissed against two others.