- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - An Oregon man who earned an award five years ago for stopping an armed bank robbery has pleaded guilty to committing an armed bank robbery.

Mark Rothwell, 50, admitted Tuesday he pointed a gun at two Portland bank tellers in February and fled with $16,588 that was later recovered by authorities. Under the terms of a plea deal, Rothwell is expected to be sentenced in December to seven years in federal prison and then face deportation to his native England.

“I’m sure you’ve heard many people say before you that they are a changed man,” the ex-Londoner told U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jones. “I am not a changed man, your honor. I was a changed man several months ago when I committed this crime. I have worked my way back to being the man that I have been for most of my life.”

The guilty plea represents a stunning downfall for a man with no criminal history who has owned a Portland business since 2003 - London Pride Renovation & Remodeling.

In 2010, Rothwell knocked a gun away from a would-be bank robber and detained him until officers arrived. The action, which happened at a bank not far from the one he held up, netted him the Civilian Medal for Heroism from Portland police.

Federal public defender Ruben Iniguez said his client robbed the bank at a time he was “out of his mind” because of heavy drug use and problems at work and home.

“His life was in a mess,” Iniguez said. “He was having an affair, the affair had been discovered. He was not sure what to do.”

Rothwell’s wife and two children sat in the courtroom, crying enough for a court employee to give them a box of tissues.

Rothwell, who has been in jail since his arrest, apologized for scaring the bank tellers and putting his family through “some awful times.” Before being led away, he asked the judge for permission to hug his daughter, Lucy, who is going overseas in a few days.

The judge granted the wish and the pair embraced near the defense table.


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