Skowhegan man gets 10 years in prison for taking guns in Benton robbery

Posted Jan. 02, 2010, at 2:18 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Skowhegan man has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for stealing 11 firearms and a silencer from a licensed firearms dealer while on bail awaiting the execution of his sentence on a state conviction for burglary.

Raymond Ellis, 20, also was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court to three years of supervised release after he completes his prison term, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In addition, he was ordered to pay $8,257 in restitution to the owner of Bob’s Country Market in Benton.

Ellis waived indictment on July 7 and pleaded guilty in federal court in Bangor to theft of firearms from a federally licensed dealer, conspiracy to steal firearms and possession of firearms by a felon.

The events that led to Ellis being sent to federal prison began on Feb. 4 when he pleaded guilty in Somerset County Superior Court to a residential burglary in 2008. He was sentenced to more than a year in prison, according to federal court documents. All but 90 days of that sentence was suspended, according to a story previously published in the Waterville Sentinel. Ellis was granted a stay until Feb. 13.

On Feb. 8, according to documents filed in federal court, Ellis told his then-16-year-old girlfriend that he planned to leave the state to avoid serving his sentence. The two, along with Jacob S. Smith, 19, of Norridgewock, conspired to steal cash and guns from Bob’s Country Market in Benton.

Ellis’ girlfriend called a juvenile cousin in New Hampshire, according to court documents, who agreed to try to find a buyer for the stolen guns. About 10 p.m. Feb. 8, just before the market closed, Smith and Ellis entered the market wearing ski masks and sunglasses. Ellis carried a baseball bat and Smith had a lead pipe, according to court documents.

The two ordered employees to lie on the ground. Using the baseball bat, Ellis broke the glass of the display case and removed 11 handguns and a silencer. Smith, according to court documents, removed about $2,000 from the cash register.

Ellis gave Smith $500, a gun and a silencer as payment for his part in the robbery, according to court documents. On Feb. 9, Ellis and his girlfriend traveled to Manchester, N.H., where the girl’s juvenile cousin admitted having contacted someone who might be willing to purchase some or all of the firearms in exchange for money or drugs, court documents state.

Ellis was arrested in New Hampshire a day or so later, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, on a charge of illegal gun possession. He admitted that he intended to use money from the robbery to buy cocaine.

Smith pleaded guilty on Nov. 11 in federal court in Bangor to theft of firearms from a federally licensed dealer, possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number and conspiracy to steal a firearm. His sentencing date has not been set. Smith faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

Ellis’ girlfriend, whose name had not been released because she is a juvenile, also has pleaded guilty to federal charges but had not been sentenced, according to the Waterville paper.

Information about the status of charges against the New Hampshire juvenile were not available.

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