Jean Valjean has nothing on Robert Coston.
The fictional hero of the Broadway musical “Les Miserables” went to prison for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. But the real life Robert Coston was sentenced on Wednesday to 68 years for a two month crime spree in 2012. Both cited feeding their family as their motivation for the crimes.
Brooklyn D.A. Kenneth Thompson said Coston’s long sentence is to deter others.
“The long prison time he now faces sends a clear message that those who would disrupt the safety of our communities will pay dearly for their crimes,” Thompson said.
Coston was charged with holding up five businesses in Brooklyn 12 different times between October and November 2012, the New York Daily News reported.
Officials said Coston robbed a Park Slope Tasti-D-Lite three times, a laundromat two times, a dry cleaning place in Prospect Heights neighborhood three times and a few Subway restaurants. He also robbed a Blue Marble Ice Cream Restaurant, according to news reports.
Coston reportedly told police he committed the robberies to support his kids.
“My sons are in college,” he said. “I was looking for work. I couldn’t find work. I’m very sorry for what I did, though.”
The owner of the Tasti-D-Lite said Coston appeared “very calm” while holding him up.
“He said, ‘I’m sorry. I hate to do this. I have a family to feed,’” Mayer Levy said.
A clerk in one of the Subway restaurants managed to escape by locking himself in a closet, officials added.
Coston record includes arrests for grand larceny, drug possession, assault, menacing and robbery.
Andrew Scot Bolsinger won more than two dozen press awards during his journalism career. He is a freelance writer, author and operates www.criminalu.co, which is focused on prison reform. He can reached at Andrew.Bolsinger@gmail.com