ITHACA, N.Y. — An Ithaca man will serve seven years in prison for the robbery of two banks last winter in Tompkins County.

Chaio Slater, 32, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree robbery on June 14, and was sentenced Wednesday to three and a half years in prison for each charge, to be served consecutively, as well as three years of post-release supervision.

On Dec. 5, Slater entered the Tompkins Trust Company at 775 S. Meadow Street and demanded money from the teller. He was caught on security footage brandishing what appeared to be a firearm. He fled the scene on foot, with roughly $3,000 in cash. He repeated the crime at a CFCU Community Credit Union, located at 99 Sheraton Drive in Lansing, on Jan. 17, this time making off with $6,000 in cash.

Chaio Slater

After an investigation, Slater was arrested Jan. 26, and charged with two counts of felony first-degree robbery. However, the charges were later reduced to second-degree robbery after the firearm in question was discovered to be a BB pellet gun, purchased the day of the first robbery.

The judge, John C. Rowley, noted that the restitution had been paid in full, which he remarked as being unusual.

District Attorney Matthew Van Houten shared statements from Tompkins Trust Company and people impacted by the robberies. He said Slater forced staff at the banks in dangerous situations. Van Houten said people should be able to go to work and not fear for their safety.

Though the pre-sentence investigation reported that Slater had a history of heroin use, Van Houten said this should not excuse Slater’s actions and that they had been “calculated decisions” unaffected by the influence of drugs.

Slater’s defense attorney, Luke Z. Fenchel, said Slater was deeply remorseful for his actions, and that he is “more than the choices he made.”

Slater expressed regret over his actions and addressed friends and family present in court, saying ““I apologize to everybody that I negatively impacted or let down, at the bank, my family here … and really to the whole Ithaca community.”

He said when he gets out of prison, he hopes the community is willing to give him a second chance.