MINOT, N.D. — A Minot man who gained a reputation as a masked, knife-wielding bandit after robbing businesses at knifepoint and later trying to escape from jail has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Authorities accused Vincent Musi III, 25, of robbing or trying to rob four Minot businesses and a store in nearby Surrey in May, then using a stool to try to smash through windows of his cell on the Fourth of July.

Late last month, Musi pleaded guilty to three of the robbery counts and entered an Alford plea to the escape charge, acknowledging there was enough evidence to convict him. The court treats it the same as a guilty plea. Prosecutors dropped the other two robbery charges.

Judge Douglas Mattson sentenced Musi on Wednesday to 10 years in prison, with two suspended.

“Putting a knife to a person and demanding property is about as bad as it gets,” the judge said. “I do hope you get help. You are a violent offender.”

Musi could have faced up to 55 years in prison for his crimes, which he blamed on a drug problem.

“I never would have thought about this in my right mind,” he said.