Update, March 5: Facing up to life in prison, James Fogle was sentenced yesterday to 15 years, nine months for the BB-gun robbery of a Redmond pharmacy. At his age and in poor health, however, that could be a life sentence anyway for the Drugstore Cowboy. King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum added another 18 months of community supervision should Fogle survive imprisonment for his 11th felony since 1967.
But he's been in and out of jails and prisons ever since, and at sentencing next Friday will face a term of more than 15 years for his latest heist, of a Redmond pharmacy, that could turn him into an old man of letters should he survive what is effectively a life sentence.
Until movie director Gus Van Zant met with him in prison to discuss a film deal, Fogle had already spent half his life behind bars where he wrote Cowboy, based on the true events of his life with a group of addicts who robbed drugstores for their fixes.
His extensive record, much of it out-of-state, dates to 1954 (he was born in 1936). Washington offenses includes robbery and kidnapping before he went to the Walls in the 80s, and at least six drug-related felonies since then.
His "offender score," calculating the time deserved for his crimes, now reaches 9, top of the charts, thanks to his latest heist. That was last May, when he and buddy Shannon Benn held up the Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy on Redmond Way. Benn, 45, (who's since pleaded guilty) held a handgun, and the then-72-year-old Fogle brandished a BB gun.
They tied up one employee and sent the other to lock the door--just as a customer tried to enter. "Call the cops," the employee whispered to the visitor before locking up. Fogle and Benn were easily nabbed. Not that Fogle was a pro to begin with: At one drugstore he planned to rob, cops found him fast asleep.
King County prosecutors are recommending a 129-month term for the Redmond heist plus a 60-month enhancement for using a firearm--the BB gun. Should Fogle--who has medical issues and is on portable oxygen--do the full term, he will be roughly 88 upon release.
"Some psychiatrist," he once said, "told me I'd been locked up so long I didn't have any point of reference, you know? I always went back to what I knew."