Ex-Army Ranger Chad Palmer this morning was sentenced to 11 years for a military-style bank heist in Tacoma, the same crime that netted another Ranger a 24-year term last week. Palmer, 22, got a break after he cooperated with prosecutors and laid out details of the robbery that he and other Rangers rehearsed on a hill overlooking their Fort Lewis barracks.
Though prosecutors and his attorney didn't want to talk about Palmer's insider role, sketchy court records mention he apparently met with a Department of Corrections intelligence officer at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center, where he was incarcerated prior to sentencing. The nature of that info - and whether it is separate from his cooperation with prosecutors - is being withheld. The US and Palmer's attorney convinced Tacoma US District Court judge Franklin Burgess to seal the transcript of Palmer's conversations. Court briefs justifying the lighter sentence were also sealed from public view. Prosecutors, in another sentencing brief, would say only that Palmer's "remarkable behavior" and "exemplary performance at the FDC" justified a sentence that was less than half that given robbery ringleader Luke Sommer, 24, last week.
Palmer apologized to bank tellers and his family, adding "I can promise everyone here, never again will I commit any kind of crime." His parents couldn't attend but, in a letter to the court, Palmer's mother's said she was mystified by her son's actions. "That he got involved in a crime involving bank robbery when he seemingly had no money worries," the mother said, "is inexplicable, mutually exclusive with his background, and heart-wrenching for me as a mother groping for the answer to 'why.'"