A bride and groom. A father helping his daughter decorate the Christmas tree. A family of four in coordinated plaid shirts.

Travis Card, 38, sat in an orange jail uniform as the pictures from his past life flashed on the screen in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Then Judge Nancy Torresen sentenced him to nearly six years in federal prison for a series of armed robberies and attempted robberies that rattled local businesses and triggered an FBI investigation.

She told Card she wanted him to get help for the drug addiction that fueled his crimes, but she also could not overlook the trauma he caused his victims, including a teenager who was at a coffee shop cash register during one of the robberies.

“This case is a string of, really, tragedies from many levels,” Torresen said. “The system really has not evolved to the point where it’s good at dealing with the opiate crisis that we’re faced with.”

The string of armed robberies began nearly one year ago, and Card was arrested last April. He pleaded guilty in August in federal court to interfering or attempting to interfere with commerce by robbery at 11 businesses from Old Orchard Beach to Cumberland.

Torresen sentenced him Wednesday to 70 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He will also pay restitution for his gains from the robberies – slightly less than $3,000.

But she refused a request by the defense attorney for a lesser sentence of 60 months, citing in part the statement of the teenage victim. The judge noted that the weapon he displayed during the robberies turned out to be a pellet gun, but the victims believed it to be a real firearm.

“Your crimes are not really serious because you took a lot of money,” Torresen said. “Your crimes are serious because you involved a lot of fear.”

VICTIM’S MOM SPEAKS

Local police and FBI agents investigated a possible connection between 15 armed robberies in March and April last year. Most reports involved a masked man in dark clothing and armed with what was believed to be a handgun. He entered businesses that were almost empty and demanded cash.

Law enforcement officials encouraged victims to hand over the money without a fight. But some owners were frustrated and defiant, and one put a loaded gun behind his convenience store counter after a robber hit a nearby shop.

Card was living in Westbrook at the time of his arrest, and he has been held at the Cumberland County Jail ever since his arrest. He was initially charged in only one robbery, but he admitted to 10 others.

One of his targets was the Daily Grind in Westbrook. Sue Salisbury, one of the owners, spoke at the sentencing on behalf of her teenage daughter, who was working when Card held up the coffee shop.

“To have that happen, it changed a lot about how we ran our business and the sense of peace that we had in a community that we love so much,” Salisbury said.

Salisbury said she will never forget the conversation her daughter recounted later. The girl was 16 years old at the time.

“He said he wasn’t going to hurt her, and she said, ‘You promise?’ ” Salisbury said.

No other victims spoke at the sentencing, but the prosecutor relayed comments from the victim at the China Eatery in Old Orchard Beach. That person described his fear to an interpreter and said the restaurant has spent thousands of dollars to upgrade its security camera system.

‘OUR HEARTS AREN’T WHOLE’

Defense attorney Heather Gonzales asked the judge to recognize the role addiction has played in Card’s criminal history.

She said Card had never been arrested before he got hooked on prescription painkillers following two knee surgeries in 2012. The years since have been marred by convictions for burglary and theft, periods of incarceration and relapse. He tried to get into treatment multiple times, and at the time of the robberies, he was on waitlists for programs that administer Suboxone, a medication that relieves opioid cravings and withdrawal sickness.

“That in no way is an attempt to minimize the harm that his actions caused the individual victims, the store owners and the community,” Gonzales said. “The law requires us to balance that with Travis’ character as well.”

Supporters – family members, friends and even a vocational instructor at the jail – wrote letters to the court describing Card as a devoted son, husband and father. But his wife, Crystal Card, decided not to write a letter or read a statement in court. Instead, she made a video with the photographs of Card.

“We miss his playfulness, his sense of humor, his help and his hugs,” her voice said on the video narration. “Travis is a piece of our family. Without him, our hearts aren’t whole.”

LETTERS OF APOLOGY

Card delivered a short statement as well, promising to become a better person.

“The choices I made sent shockwaves that can still be felt this day,” he said.

He has written letters of apology to the victims, and he repeated that remorse in court.

“From my heart and soul, I am sorry to the people I hurt, and I hope you will accept my apology,” Card said.

Torresen said she would recommend he begin his sentence at a Bureau of Prisons medical center in Massachusetts, where he could be treated for a tumor. Then she said she would request that he be moved to a New Hampshire prison with a residential drug treatment program, and she asked him to screen for the federal drug court when he returns to Maine.

“I am firmly convinced that you will right this ship, and there’s a decent life ahead,” Torresen said.

With those words, the judge closed the hearing and left the courtroom. The screen where the photographs had been was blank. The guards approached Card and placed restraints around his waist and wrists.

As they led him away, he turned to his wife and gave her a small wave, the best he could do in handcuffs.

Megan Gray can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemegan

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