By Julie Manganis
---- — SALEM — A Gulf War Army veteran whose combat injuries led to a decades-long addiction to drugs pleaded guilty yesterday to charges that he held up a Newburyport bank nearly two years ago.
Jeffrey Adams, 43, of Amesbury, will begin serving a 21/2-year jail term on Friday, after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of larceny from a person, during a hearing yesterday in Salem Superior Court.
Adams, who had originally faced the more serious charge of unarmed robbery, admitted that he walked into the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank branch on Storey Avenue back on the morning of Nov. 24, 2011, shortly after the bank opened.
Prosecutor Meg Morrissey said Adams went first to the desk where deposit and withdrawal slips are kept, scribbled something and then walked up to the teller in the third window and handed her the note.
It read “Cash now.”
The teller, who was apparently new on the job, hesitated for a moment, said Morrissey. That’s when Adams asked her, “Do you know what it says?” The teller handed him a stack of bills totalling $680.
Police were later able to identify Adams from a description given by the teller of a neatly groomed, middle-aged man with salt and pepper hair and a goatee — and from a fingerprint found at the scene.
Kirk Bransfield, who represented Adams, said in court that his client had received two Purple Hearts for injuries sustained while serving in the Persian Gulf in the early 1990s.
Adams has had a drug problem since, an issue exacerbated by depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, for which he is now receiving medication and counseling from the Veterans Administration.
After completing his sentence, Adams wants to move out of the area to be closer to a VA program that he hopes can help him deal with his issues, Bransfield said.
Judge John Lu agreed to delay the start of Adams’ jail term until Friday so that he can wrap up some personal matters, including a doctor’s appointment. But he warned that if Adams fails to show up or commits a new crime, the plea deal will be off the table.