A California man pleaded no contest Thursday morning to several charges that involved attempting to rob a Roseburg bank nine years ago.

Gene Preston Stewart II, 42, of California entered the no contest pleas in Douglas County Circuit Court, to first degree attempted robbery, possession of a short barrel shotgun, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of burglary tools.

It was the end of a long and unusual journey to the end of the case when Judge Bill Marshall sentenced Stewart to 36 months on the attempted robbery charge, 30 months each on unlawful possession of a short-barreled firearm, and felon in possession of a firearm.

Prosecutor Jodee Jackson said at the sentencing hearing on Thursday morning, Stewart and a female accomplice planned to rob the Umpqua Bank in the Garden Valley Center in Roseburg with a sawed-off shotgun on Jan. 9, 2011.

Jackson said the two never got very far, other than covering their license plates and getting the firearm, thanks to an alert citizen.

“They were foiled by a man who who called in suspicious behavior,” Jackson said.

Roseburg Police followed up on the report and found the vehicle behind the JC Penny’s store, and noticed a man and woman walking nearby, who turned out to be the two suspects.

The found out about the bank robbery plan after interviewing the two suspets and a search of their vehicles also found two stocking caps, a jacket full of shotgun shells, a trench coat and a loaded short-barreled shotgun.

Stewart was in custody in the Douglas County Jail awaiting a court hearing, when authorities said he jumped from the upper level of the jail down to the floor and broke several bones.

Jackson said the jail was not able to keep Stewart in custody because of the injuries, so he would appear either in person or by phone. But in December 2011, he stopped showing up for hearings.

“We learned later in October of 2012, he had been convicted of attempted murder in California and was doing a 15-year sentence for that crime,” Jackson said.

Stewart’s sentences from the Douglas County cases will run concurrently with the prison term he is serving in California.

Reporter Dan Bain can be reached at 541-957-4221 or e-mail at dbain@nrtoday.com.

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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