2006-03-10 07:40:46 UTC
By Jon Burstein
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted March 10 2006
A 70-year-old former actor was sentenced to three consecutive life
terms Thursday for a four-week robbery spree that left his victims
bloodied, battered and traumatized.
Alan Paley, who appeared in television series such as Sea Hunt and
Surfside Six, preyed on visitors at Broward County hotels, holding them
up at gunpoint and bashing their heads in with his .380 automatic when
they fought back. In one case, he repeatedly slammed the gun down on a
71-year-old man's head, leaving his victim crumpled on a bathroom floor
and so bloodied people thought he was stabbed.
"Your infliction of injuries was not only intentional, but it was
repeated and it was without mercy," Broward Circuit Judge Cheryl
Alemán said as she sentenced Paley. "There wasn't the tiniest bit of
empathy that was displayed to your elderly victims. Based on the
testimony presented to this court, you were ruthless and really devoid
of any mercy."
Paley apologized Thursday, calling his actions "idiotic." The hunched
man with thick glasses talked at length about how he became depressed
because he couldn't find a job to support his family. He complained
about various ailments, including a hip replacement and heart problems.
"I sit here now and I still don't know how I was able to do those
things," he said.
In September 1990 a Broward Circuit Court jury acquitted Paley of
attempting to rob a man in a Fort Lauderdale hotel bathroom. His
attorney in that case argued that Paley, who worked in the insurance
industry, was too smart to commit such a crime during daylight hours in
a busy hotel.
Broward Sheriff's Office detectives most recently arrested Paley, of
Aventura, in March 2004, after receiving a tip that he was the criminal
dubbed by authorities "The Middle-Aged Mugger."
Prosecutors charged Paley with four separate holdups at hotels in
Deerfield Beach and Plantation in January and February 2004.
During the spree, Paley:
Pistol-whipped a Wyoming man in a hotel hallway, sending his victim to
the hospital for head wounds.
Shoved a gun in the face of an 88-year-old man after bursting into the
victim's hotel room.
Pointed a gun at a Sunrise woman in a hotel parking lot, asking, "Do
you want to die?"
Jerrold Newman, whom Paley attacked in the bathroom, testified at a
Tuesday hearing that Paley left him with permanent emotional and
"He spoiled my sense of security," Newman said. "He gave me nightmares
for a very long time."
Paley pleaded guilty last week to seven felony counts, including
robbery, aggravated battery, attempted robbery and burglary. Under
state sentencing guidelines, he faced a minimum of 19 1/2 years and up
to life in prison.
Prosecutor Elizabeth Scherer urged that Paley be locked away for good,
saying his crimes devastated lives and were full of rage.
"The state does not believe this community is safe if Alan Paley ever,
ever gets out from behind bars, whether he be 90 or 110," Scherer said.
"If he was able to commit these crimes at 69 years old with all these
health problems, the state's position is he will do it again if he gets
Assistant Public Defender Dorothy Ferraro asked that Paley receive the
lightest possible sentence, saying the attacks were out of character
for the family man. Paley's wife and one of his daughters testified
Thursday that he is a loving father and husband.
Ferraro told Alemán that even if Paley got the minimum sentence, he
probably wasn't going to live to see the end of it. Before sentencing
Paley, Alemán detailed each of his crimes, saying he not only stole
the victims' money, but their peace of mind.
"You made intentional choices," Alemán said. "You made choices to
victimize the most vulnerable and least deserving of harm ... Even the
sight of the quantities of blood that were described by the victims in
this case did nothing to soften your resolve to ruthlessly obtain your
own selfish ends."