Australian Corey Donaldson attempted to liken himself to Robin Hood, saying he was justified in taking more than $140,000 (£92,500) last December because he passed on most of the cash to people who needed it.
“You haven’t lived until you have served others in such a way that they can never pay you back,” he told the court.
The jury did not agree, however, and federal judge Alan B Johnson sentenced the 40-year-old to serve 70 months for the bank robbery.
Donaldson was arrested in January in Utah, where officers recovered more than $30,000, including $11,000 stuffed into envelopes and addressed to his relatives.
The would-be Prince of Thieves addressed the judge for more than an hour on Thursday.
He said he moved to America after marrying a US citizen and stayed, sometimes without a home, after a divorce.
Donaldson argued that banks racked up record profits while forcing people into homelessness through foreclosures.
He said his father lost the family home in Australia in a bank default years ago and once considered suicide as a means of providing for 10 children from life insurance proceeds.
But prosecutor Todd Shugart emphasised that Donaldson was preparing to ship money to his family overseas.
“His claim of carrying out this act to benefit the poor is simply disingenuous,” he said.
The judge agreed, saying the bank robbery was “fuelled by deceit”. He pointed out that Donaldson had already written to publishers trying to drum up interest in a book about the robbery.
The Australian is likely to be deported after his prison term.