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Court gets plea agreement from "Mad Hatter"

"Mad Hatter" suspect responsible for 18 bank robberies in New Jersey scrapped a plea agreement Wednesday.

"I do not wish to go through with it," James G. Madison told U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares.

The judge said Madison and prosecutors on Aug. 14 signed the plea deal, which called on the defendant to plead guilty to six bank robbery counts.

"He changed his mind?" Linares asked.

"Yes," said Madison's public defender, Donald L. McCauley. "He maintains his innocence."

McCauley declined to comment after the brief hearing.

The bandit, who wore a variety of hats, had netted about $60,000 (44,017 EUR) from September to July.

In a jail interview published in Tuesday's Star-Ledger of Newark, Madison had said he was the hat bandit, but he said there were "mitigating circumstances" involving bills and a low-paying job. "I'm not saying I'm some Robin Hood," he told the newspaper.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shana W. Chen told the judge that prosecutors would seek to obtain a new indictment against Madison, who currently faces one bank robbery count.

Under the rejected agreement, Madison also would have acknowledged committing 18 robberies since last September, an official with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press on Monday. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

Madison was released last year from a halfway house after serving nearly 20 years in prison for the bludgeoning death of a girlfriend.

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