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Bank Robber Blames Gambling and Loan Sharks

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2007/12/07 10:13

Self-described gambling addict Scott A. Hasenjaeger was hedging his bets when he robbed a Marseilles bank in January -- he said in court this week he was partly hoping to get caught and partly hoping to get away.

Either way, a federal judge called in his marker Tuesday.

The 34-year-old Hasenjaeger was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. However, the former insurance agent and part-time post office letter carrier from Minooka will be able to spend the holidays with his wife and three small children -- he doesn't have to report to prison until January.

Wearing a ski mask, Hasenjaeger entered Twin Oaks Savings Bank in Marseilles Jan. 24 and pointed at tellers a BB handgun that resembled a semi-automatic pistol. He made off with about $35,277, some of which he dropped as he left the bank. State police arrested Hasenjaeger about 45 minutes later in Minooka with a portion of the loot. As part of his deal to plead guilty, he agreed to pay back the rest of the money.

In seeking mercy, Hasenjaeger told the judge he grew up the son of an "emotionally-detached alcoholic father," catching the betting bug around age 8, when he blew $100 on a cruise ship slot machine.

Picking up his story in college, Hasenjaeger said he was the leading scorer for the 1993-1994 Central Connecticut State University basketball squad. The night before the "biggest game of the season," Hasenjaeger said he used $3,000 in credit card money to gamble at a casino, which he built into $12,000, before losing it all. With empty pockets, he duped a cab driver into taking him back to campus, promising to pay the fare once there. However, after he was dropped off, he fled without paying and was arrested by campus police. He played miserably the next night and was booted from the team the next year.

After his failed college career, he was hired and rose to become a district manager with American General Finance in Minooka, but continued to lose thousands of dollars through gambling.

At the time of the bank robbery, Hasenjaeger said loan sharks were circling him, he was on the verge of losing his job, and his house -- mortgaged twice to get money to pay gambling debts -- was in foreclosure. He said he partly wanted to get caught, because then he figured he would be forced to quit gambling.

After his arrest, he declared bankruptcy and his family now is about to be evicted.

Hasenjaeger joined Gamblers Anonymous, and in 1995 and 2000 was hospitalized at Proctor Hospital in Peoria for what doctors termed a "severe gambling disorder." For brief periods after each hospitalization, Hasenjaeger said he refrained from wagering.

Hasenjaeger's court-appointed attorney, Robert G. Clarke, wrote of his client:

"Virtually all of his family, many of whom he has hurt quite severely, and some of his friends, some of whom have been betrayed by earlier promises of reformation, attest to his good will and his persuasive efforts to reform since his arrest."

In 1995, Hasenjaeger was convicted of criminal damage to property.

Until he reports to prison, Hasenjaeger is under electronic monitoring and has to remain home from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily. He also is prohibited from gambling.

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