Judge offers Raymond Wallace 20 years for holdups

Julie Manganis/Staff photoRay Wallace during a court appearance in March.

SALEM — He once might have had a chance at parole after 13 years if he pleaded guilty to violent, armed robberies at two North Shore businesses. 

But, then, Raymond Wallace allegedly tried to escape while being treated for an eye injury at a Boston hospital in July 2013. During the incident at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, police said, Wallace shot a sheriff’s deputy and was then shot in the abdomen by the other deputy. 

His case was delayed for more than a year while he recovered from his injuries. 

On Wednesday, a Salem Superior Court judge said he’ll sentence Wallace, 37, to 20 years in prison if he pleads guilty to a string of charges stemming from the holdups. One occurred just two days before Christmas 2010 at the old Borders Books and Music in Peabody, the other in March 2011 at PetSmart in Salem. 

In both, Wallace showed up around closing time in a flesh-colored rubber mask and ordered employees at gunpoint to open the safe, police said. 

Then, he torched his getaway vehicles behind a business in Salem, not far from the condo where he was living at the time. 

The robberies netted relatively small amounts. Prosecutor A.J. Camelio said $2,000 was taken in the PetSmart holdup, but Judge David Lowy said he believes the crimes were about more than money. 

“Perhaps these robberies had nothing to do with money but instead a ... thrill with criminal activity,” Lowy said. 

Wallace had recently been paroled after serving 10 years for a series of armed burglaries at a Waltham farm stand, and he was serving a 20-year probation. 

His probation officer, Martin Wallace (no relation) told the judge that Wallace was a model probationer, never missing appointments, working steadily as a car salesman and keeping the officer aware of his whereabouts. 

But as soon as an electronic monitoring bracelet he’d been ordered to wear at the start of his probation was removed, the probation officer said he began receiving information that Wallace was involved in suspicious activity. 

As police waited for Wallace in the garage of his Courageous Court condo, they noticed a cache of items, including a battering ram and gasoline. In the trunk of his car, they located the proceeds from the PetSmart holdup, as well as guns. And Wallace was wearing body armor, as if prepared for a shootout with police, Camelio said.

Then, days after a company came in to clear out his belongings from the rented condo unit, two employees who thought they’d scored some new speakers discovered a cache of guns hidden inside them, Camelio said. 

Wallace, who was once a muscular 200 pounds, has lost at least 60 pounds, said his lawyer, Raymond Buso. He’s also lost all or parts of several organs and his intestines, leaving him permanently disabled. 

Buso suggested that any sentence imposed will be harder on Wallace than other inmates. He proposed a 15-to-18-year term. 

Camelio asked for 20 to 30 years. 

If Wallace accepts the judge’s sentence, he’ll also be subject to probation conditions that will begin immediately, even as he serves the state prison term. 

Wallace is due back in court Oct. 3 to decide whether he’ll take the judge’s offer or go to trial. 

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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