Man sentenced in tavern robbery attempt

Bernard D. Falconer was ordered to serve 18 months in prison for the crime in December.

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WALLA WALLA -- A man was sentenced Monday afternoon to a year-and-a-half in prison for trying to rob a downtown tavern in December.

Bernard D. Falconer, 56, was ordered to serve the midpoint of the standard range of 15-21 months he faced.

In imposing the 18-month prison term, Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht went along with a prosecution recommendation, rejecting a defense request for the low end of the range.

Before the sentence was imposed, Falconer -- who has no felony history -- said he is remorseful and apologized to people who were in Fat Cat's Tavern and Grill when he committed the crime. He explained he was in the midst of an alcohol-related blackout and asked for alcohol treatment while in prison.

Defense attorney Jim Barrett added, "It's not like him to do this sort of thing."

But Schacht said he is concerned that Falconer could have injured someone during the blackout and that 18 months is "a very lenient sentence under the guidelines."

He gave Falconer credit for the 87 days he'd already served in the County Jail and placed him on 18 months of community custody, a form of probation, when he's released from prison.

Falconer pleaded guilty Feb. 13 to a reduced charge of second-degree robbery with a deadly-weapon enhancement.

He didn't get any money when he tried to hold up Fat Cat's, 430 W. Main St., on Dec. 2, but pretended to have a gun.

Police said Falconer -- who reportedly was homeless -- entered the tavern about 4:45 p.m. that day and twice demanded $200 from the female bartender.

She was afraid he had a gun because the second time he told her to give him the money, he "motioned both hands from in his (coat) pockets upwards towards her," according to a police report filed in court.

He went around the bar and started to reach for the cash register, but left without any money after being confronted by the bartender and a witness, officials said.

Falconer was apprehended nearby. No gun was found.

He could have faced about 2 to 21/2 years had he been convicted of first-degree attempted robbery, as initially charged.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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