Dominique Marie Polani told a Sacramento Superior Court judge Friday that she was sorry for what she had done and that it would never happen again.
The young woman’s plea for forgiveness didn’t stop Superior Court Judge Jaime Román from sentencing her to six years in state prison for a bizarre string of Sacramento-area bank robberies last summer – Polani accepted the deal weeks ago – but Román left her with words of encouragement.
“This does not have to define you for the rest of your life,” Román said from the bench. “This does not have to define who Dominique Polani is.”
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Polani, 23, pleaded no contest in late February to two counts of second-degree robbery connected to holdups of Bank of the West, Citibank and Chase Bank locations in Carmichael, Rosemont and the Arden Arcade area in July 2015 – crimes that were notable for their guilelessness.
Polani wore no disguise during the robberies and was dressed casually in jeans, a cap and horn-rimmed glasses. She came armed with only a note and the same wan look she had behind bars in Román’s jailhouse courtroom, but she was able to walk away with cash from each of the bank branches.
Throughout the case, defense attorney Marcus Wiggins argued Polani was coerced by a boyfriend into committing the holdups, calling her an unwilling participant in the robberies.
With no criminal history before last July’s robberies, Polani’s crimes “simply made no sense,” Román said.
“This was a gross example of being under the wrong person’s influence,” Wiggins said. “At no time did she wave a gun. She handed a note that she didn’t write to other people.”
Outside the courtroom, Polani’s uncle, Anthony Polani, said his niece “fell in love with the wrong dude.”
Tips on social media and bank surveillance footage led to Polani’s arrest last July near Bakersfield.