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A judge sentenced a Bozeman man to five years in the custody of the Department of Corrections on Monday for attempting to rob a bank in June 2021.

Travis Irwin, 33, pleaded no contest to an amended charge of attempt to commit theft, a felony, on Dec. 17. The original charge, felony robbery, was amended by prosecutors.

According to court documents, Irwin and another man were trying to buy a pickup for about $57,000 at a Bozeman car dealership in June 2021. When they weren’t able to buy the truck, the two went to the nearby First Security Bank.

Irwin told the bank president to give him $150,000 from his former boss’s account. When the bank president told him he would not be able to withdraw money from someone else’s account, Irwin reached into the suit jacket he was wearing and told the employee to “tell them you got robbed at gunpoint if you have to.” Someone at the bank activated a holdup alarm and the Bozeman Police Department responded.

Law enforcement did not find any firearms on Irwin or the other man after arresting them without incident. Neither received any money from the bank.

A no contest plea means that the defendant does not admit guilt to the crime, but does admit that the state could prove the allegations if the case moves to a criminal trial. Defense attorney Diana Copeland said in court Monday afternoon that Irwin’s no contest plea is not him attempting to avoid accountability, but rather that “he could not say under oath that he had attempted to rob or steal or commit a crime.”

“He fully recognizes that he’s not blameless in this case, that his conduct was not right,” Copeland said.

“ … He was in a very delusional state …. I think it’s a combination of mental health and drug use, which is why we are recommending the Department of Corrections commitment.”

Judge Rienne McElyea ruled to follow the plea agreement that Copleand and prosecutor Bjorn Boyer agreed upon, which included that five-year DOC sentence. That sentence will likely include treatment or counseling for substance abuse and mental health, and part of it is allowed to be served in a pre-release facility. Irwin has already been in custody for about seven months, which will also count toward that sentence.

“He’s in a very good place to hopefully make a fresh start after some time in custody,” Copeland said.

Irwin addressed the court at the sentencing hearing, an opportunity all defendants have but not all choose to do. He and Copeland both said that he is looking forward to getting treatment and continuing to be sober.

“I’m just glad nothing really severe happened,” Irwin said. “Clearly, I was not making the right decisions …. It makes me cringe a little just thinking that that was acceptable at all.”

In addition to the five-year sentence, the court ordered Irwin to have no contact with his former boss. The court did grant a single exception to that condition, at the request of Irwin: If he wants to write an apology letter to the former boss, he can do so and send it to the County Attorney’s Office.

During sentencing, Judge McElyea, who has seen Irwin in her court a handful of times on a different drug-related charge, said Monday was “the most clear-minded” she had seen him.

“Best of luck,” McElyea said to him immediately before concluding the sentencing hearing. “You keep that attitude, you’re going places.”

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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