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LEWISTOWN - The Ginglen brothers grew up knowing they should always do the right thing, even under tough circumstances. It's a lesson their ex-Marine father taught them.

So when they discovered that same father had been robbing small-town banks, they put his tutelage to the test.

They turned him in.

Now William Alfred Ginglen, a 64-year-old grandfather of seven from this small Central Illinois town, could land in prison until he dies. He's scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in federal court in Springfield after pleading guilty in July to seven counts of armed bank robbery and two counts of carrying and using a firearm during a crime of violence.

Ginglen's double life started to unravel when one of his sons, a police officer, recognized him from surveillance videos posted on a law enforcement Web site.

After a meeting with his two brothers, the three decided to go to the police.

The brothers are still haunted by questions about why their dad turned to crime and about a secret lifestyle that authorities allege included a girlfriend, drugs and prostitutes.

But none questions their decision to turn their father in.

"He turned to crime, and we had an opportunity to stop it," said Clay Ginglen, 36, a music teacher in his hometown of about 2,600 people. "He was robbing banks with a gun. He could have easily hurt anyone - a bank teller, a policeman. He could have been hurt as well."

The brothers say they hope sharing the sordid episode that turned their lives upside down and ended their parents' 43-year marriage will encourage others who may feel trapped between family and justice.

"Maybe there are other folks out there dealing with something similar and they may see this and say, 'OK, maybe you can do the right thing and live through it,"' said Garrett Ginglen, 41, a Caterpillar Inc. engineer.

DeWitt County Sheriff Roger Massey, who led the investigation, agreed.

"You've got to give a lot of credit to those gentlemen. They're great kids with great morals. It was the right thing to do and they didn't question it," Massey said.

Jared Ginglen ultimately led authorities to his father in August 2004 when a newspaper story caught his eye about a nine-month string of unsolved holdups that netted nearly $60,000 at five small central Illinois banks.

When the Peoria police officer went to a DeWitt County sheriff's department Web site featuring new surveillance photos, he recognized his dad behind sunglasses, a dust mask and driver's cap.

He called brother Garrett, who says he broke into a sweat and threw up in his office trash can when he called up the photos.

"I felt like if I could I would get up and run as fast and far as I could … just trying to get away from it and pretend like it didn't happen," he said.

The three brothers quickly gathered at the Lewistown firehouse where Garrett and Clay Ginglen work as volunteers and decided to confront their father, giving him a choice of turning himself in or being taken to jail.

He wasn't home, but the sons found clothes that matched those worn by the robber. They called police, who arrested "Al" Ginglen the next morning as he walked to his car outside the home of a woman whom authorities say he had been secretly seeing since the 1990s.

Along with a gun used in at least two of the robberies, the investigation turned up a journal Ginglen kept that prosecutors says details both the robberies and the double life they bankrolled.

Prosecutors say Ginglen wrote that he needed money to support his girlfriend and her daughter, and to pay for a $400 to $900 a week crack cocaine habit and hotel rooms where he romped with prostitutes.

His sons say the family was oblivious to both the robbery spree and their dad's secret life.

"There's a lot of things we're upset about that weren't illegal. … Lying's not a crime, and lying was the biggest thing," Clay Ginglen said.

Al Ginglen told the Chicago Tribune the journal was a fictionalized outline for a book he planned to write. Ginglen declined an interview request from The Associated Press last week.

His sons, who say they have read only parts of the journal, rejected that explanation.

"I think it was a way that someone who was living a double life would try to keep track of his stories, to not slip up and get caught," Clay Ginglen said.

In hindsight, Ginglen's sons say they now see clues that their father's life was unraveling.

After being laid off for about a year when Maytag began shuttering its Galesburg refrigerator plant in 2002, he told his family he had landed a job collecting receipts from video games in bars and restaurants across central Illinois. He was away from home three to four days a week and called his sons frequently for money, they said.

"Looking back now, he was not behaving like he used to," Garrett Ginglen said.

Only Clay Ginglen has spoken with his father since he was arrested. He says those telephone conversations are just "small talk" about work and grandchildren.

"The dad from before, I'd like to see him, I'd like to talk to him. But as far as the bank robber, who I see as a whole different personality than I ever knew, I'm not too interested in talking to him," he said.

For now, Garrett Ginglen says he's still too upset by the robberies and betrayal of his mother to consider rekindling a relationship.

"I kind of equated a lot of this to him just dying, at least the father I knew. I've had the loss and I'm going through the stages of grief, but still haven't made it to acceptance. Maybe someday I'll hit that acceptance point. Maybe," he said.

Ginglen faces up to 25 years in prison on each count of armed bank robbery and up to life in prison on the firearms charges. His sentencing was delayed in November to give his attorney one last chance to seek leniency from prosecutors.

His attorney, Ron Hamm, did not return a call for comment, but has said Ginglen was a devoted family man with a history of community service and no criminal record before the robberies began in 2003. Prosecutors declined comment.

Whatever the sentence, Ginglen's sons hope their father someday realizes it was the lessons he taught that landed him in jail and may have saved his life.

"We knew he could be mad. It wasn't like we didn't mow the lawn when we were supposed to," Garrett Ginglen said. "But we also hoped that since he taught us all of this and raised us to be good, maybe someday the light bulb will come on."


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