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20-year-old sentenced to four years for role in area bank heists

January 13, 2014 Updated: January 13, 2014 at 7:20 pm
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photo - Left to right, Nicholas Butson, 20; Brock Edward Butson, 53; and Braden Butson, 23. (Courtesy CSPD)
Left to right, Nicholas Butson, 20; Brock Edward Butson, 53; and Braden Butson, 23. (Courtesy CSPD)  

The youngest member of a father-and-sons trio linked to a series of bank heists in the Pikes Peak region learned his fate on Monday.

Nicholas Butson, 20, was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty last year to three of the nine robberies attributed to him, his brother and his father.

He was given 131 days' credit for time served and must serve three years' probation.

In addressing the court, Butson blamed his father, Brock Butson, for getting him hooked on heroin and methamphetamine and then spurring him and his brother to begin robbing banks to fuel their shared addictions.

"He is the worst influence I could have in my life," Butson said while apologizing. "He is, next to myself, my worst enemy."

Butson, who has no prior criminal record, was the first member of the family to plead guilty after his arrest, and the first to be sentenced. Even Brock Butson's sisters wrote letters to the court affirming their brother's poor influence on his son, said Cynthia McKedy, Nicholas Butson's attorney.

He said he overdosed on drugs five times in the past - only to be rescued by his father.

After being weaned off drugs following his September arrest, Nicholas Butson gained 60 pounds, filling out his 6-foot-10 frame.

"I didn't know who I was until I went to jail," he said, adding that he wanted to serve his time so he could "become who I am supposed to be."

He called his brief career as a bank robber "the scariest days of my life."

His brother, Braden Butson, 24, is expected to be sentenced to six years in prison on Jan. 21 as the result of a plea bargain, while Brock Butson, 51, has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a March trial on charges of nine robberies and one attempted robbery.

According to prosecutors, Brock Butson has bragged in letters from jail that he intends to sell the family's story. He is being held on at least $750,000 bond, jail records show.

The robberies began in May and were reported at banks in Colorado Springs and Monument. One of the institutions, Academy Bank, was robbed four times.

According to court papers, Braden and Nicholas Butson took turns entering the banks with notes demanding money, while their father served as a getaway driver.

The men used their proceeds to buy more drugs and pay their dues at the Travel Star Inn and Suites, the weekly-rate motel they shared in Colorado Springs.

Among those who spoke in support of Nicholas Butson were a former co-worker, a pastor, and a neighbor who owns a flooring company where he worked as a teenager.

Before his brush with addiction, Nicholas Butson was a "hard worker" who took his responsibilities seriously, said Carlos Fernandez, owner of Fashion Hardwood Floors.

"I asked him, 'Why do you keep going back to your dad?' He said: 'Because he's my dad.'"

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