Journalist-turned-bank robber was depressed and unemployed, lawyer tells court

Steve Vogelsang, 53, a person of interest in a Saskatoon bank robbery on July 31, 2017.
Steve Vogelsang, 53, is serving a five-year sentence for four other bank robberies that took place in Saskatchewan. Saskatoon Police Service / Supplied

The lawyer for a former Winnipeg journalist convicted of robbing banks has told a sentencing in Alberta that his client was suffering from a deep depression at the time of the robberies and hadn’t been able to find work.

Stephen Vogelsang appeared in Medicine Hat Provincial Court on Monday via closed-circuit TV from Alberta’s Drumheller Institution, where he’s serving a five-year sentence for four other bank robberies in Regina and Saskatoon.

In April, he pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery for holding up a pair of banks in Medicine Hat in October 2017.

Vogelsang was a sports anchor and news director for many years with CKY (now CTV Winnipeg) and was also a journalism instructor at Red River College.

READ MORE: Former broadcaster Steve Vogelsang sentenced for Sask. bank robberies

His lawyer, Greg White, told court that Vogelsang left his teaching job when his wife found employment in Nelson, B.C., but despite applying to more than 50 jobs, he was unable to find employment.

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Judge Derek Redman reserved his sentencing decision for Oct. 8.

“This was the bottom of a seven-year downward spiral,” White told court, requesting a sentence of six years to be served concurrent to his Saskatchewan sentence.

“We’re talking about someone who came to the end of his rope … and made decisions that were simply illogical.”

White said Vogelsang left Nelson and returned to Winnipeg for work, but was fired from that job shortly after. Around that time, he and his wife got a divorce.

READ MORE: Lawyer of former Winnipeg journalist accused in bank robberies asking for psychiatric tests

Vogelsang was depressed and his prescribed medication wasn’t working, White said. Saddled with debt from his lengthy unemployment, he decided to rob banks.

In neither instance was Vogelsang armed.

The video feed from the jail on Monday malfunctioned, so only the audio was available. Vogelsang apologized to the bank employees, his family and hundreds of former students in a distinctive, booming broadcaster voice.

The Crown, which is requesting a three-year sentence to be served consecutive to the five years Vogelsang is already serving, cited his lack of a criminal record at the time of the offences and the 11 character references provided to the court — some from former students — as mitigating factors.

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