Thursday, July 13, 2006

Once-thriving student pleads guilty in bank robbery

Gambling debt drove minister's son to crime
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Damian G. Guevara
Plain Dealer Reporter

Gregory J. Hogan tried to pay off his online poker debt by sticking up a Pennsylvania bank.
The University School graduate and once-promising college student pleaded guilty to a felony robbery charge Wednesday.

Hogan, 20, was a well-known student at Lehigh University at the time of the Dec. 9 robbery. But the son of a Baptist minister secretly battled a gambling ad diction that led him to commit the crime.

Hogan faces 22 months to three years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 17 in Le high County, Pa., said his lawyer, John Waldron.

"The sentencing is going to be the most crucial part of the case," Waldron said. "When you look at his life and the positive things he's done and his family, I'm hoping that the judge will see that the good outweighs the bad."

Hogan, a sophomore finance and accounting major at Lehigh at the time of the robbery, was also a leader in the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity on campus. Hogan's father, also named Greg, is minister at the First Baptist Church of Barberton and a former Seven Hills councilman.

The family -- many of whom traveled to Pennsylvania for Wednesday's hearing -- now live in Hudson. Hogan kept his addiction secret even up to the point of the robbery.

"Greg is very sorry," his father told the Associated Press. The elder Hogan sat next to his son in court with his arm wrapped around him. "He's apologized. We're here to support our son. We love him."

According to police, Hogan had two Lehigh students drive him to a Wachovia Bank branch, telling them he had to cash a large check.

Hogan went into the bank and calmly handed the teller a note saying he was armed and demanding money, police said. Hogan didn't have a weapon. When the teller handed him a bag with $2,871, Hogan walked out and got into the waiting black SUV.

The two other students remained clueless about the crime, Waldron said.

While out on bond, Hogan enrolled in an inpatient treatment center in Louisiana to help deal with his gambling addiction, Waldron said.

He is no longer enrolled at Lehigh, according to school spokeswoman Sarah Cooke.