BANGOR, Maine — The inside man who planned the robbery of the Brewer Family Dollar last Halloween was sentenced Wednesday in Penobscot County Superior Court to seven years in prison with all but one year suspended.
Charles Dion, 21, of Brewer, who was an employee of the store when it was robbed, was to begin serving time immediately after Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills sentenced him.
He pleaded guilty to robbery and theft on May 19.
He also pleaded guilty to five other felonies and four misdemeanors for his role in a series of motor vehicle burglaries and criminal mischief in 2008.
“I was disappointed, I really felt as though Charles Dion was the driving force behind this robbery,” Assistant District Attorney Greg Campbell said after the sentencing.
Campbell had asked Mills to sentence Dion to eight years with all but four suspended for his part in the robbery as well as in the vehicle burglaries and criminal mischief acts in Brewer in 2008.
“I felt that it was very significant that Mr. Dion had been on a crime spree in May, June, September and Halloween,” he said.
At the sentencing, Campbell called the robbery “shocking” because “in most robbery cases, there is no breach of trust. This was someone who knew how the store was laid out, and knew where the soft points were.”
Last Halloween, Jesse D. Hatch, then 19, of Eddington, and Jason A. Goodin, then 20, of Holden, entered the Family Dollar store at around 7:20 p.m. and demanded money from the cashier. Hatch, who was armed with a 4-inch folding knife, was sentenced in June to five years in prison with all but one year suspended.
Goodin was sentenced in May to four years with all but 6 months suspended.
Raeleigh Hill, then 18, of Eddington, who drove the getaway car, was sentenced to three years with all but nine months suspended.
“Had his cohorts not talked, [Dion] would have gotten away with it,” said Campbell.
A number of people spoke on Dion’s behalf, including his mother, Karen Rydell, who asked that Mills be lenient with her son, whose actions she said were “completely out of character.”
Rydell said Dion had become “overwhelmed” by his course load at Maine Maritime Academy, where he was in the Regiment of Midshipmen. When he returned home for the summer after his freshman year, he was a different person, she said.
“I don’t feel that Charlie ever felt he fit in or belonged,” she told the judge, choking back tears as her husband and Dion’s stepfather, Dr. David Rydell, stood by her side.
After Dion dropped out of school and moved home, Karen Rydell said her son hung with a bad crowd and abused alcohol. He also was struggling to pay for a series of tickets for driving an unregistered vehicle, she said.
“Had I ever dreamed Charlie would have become so desperate, I would have intervened,” she said.
Fighting back tears, Dion said he was depressed while at MMA, and after dropping out of college fell under the influence of “the bad crowd.”
“I started to lose my sense of reality,” he said. “It is no one’s fault but my own, and I am willing to pay the consequences.”
“This was, without question, one of the stupidest things to do,” Mills said in her final decision.
But she said sending him to Maine State Prison for four years would only make him a more hardened criminal.
Dion was ordered to serve two years probation after his release, during which time he cannot possess dangerous weapons, drugs or alcohol. He will not be allowed to purchase or carry a gun after his release.
As part of his sentence, Dion must complete 50 days of community service for every year of probation. He also will pay his part of the restitution to Family Dollar in the amount of $2,653.96, as well as $850 in restitution to the owners of two vehicles he stole and crashed. Another condition of his probation is that Dion must undergo substance abuse counseling.
Dion was represented by Bangor attorney Marvin Glazier.