BANGOR, Maine – There was nothing unusual about the three women Ace Taxi owner-operator Yehoshua “Josh” Mizrachi picked up Tuesday morning for a ride to a downtown bank. In fact, the cab driver said the trio were regular customers, and he already had transported them once that morning.
Mizrachi wasn’t even concerned when one of the women, later identified as Matisha Pitts, 25, of Bangor, asked him to park in front of Bangor Savings Bank on State Street while she ran inside at around 9:30 a.m.
“That’s not unusual,” he said Wednesday morning at a local coffee shop.
He said the first sign of a problem was when “one of her friends gets out of the car and goes and looks for her [Pitts] and when Pitts returns from the bank a minute later she said, ‘Let’s go.'”
“My little yellow flags went up because she was preparing to leave without her friend,” Mizrachi said. “She said, ‘Never mind, never mind [about the friend]. Let’s go.'”
Congested traffic allowed the friend, who later was identified as Ariel Hall, 19, of Bangor, enough time to catch up and get back into the taxicab, the driver said.
Mizrachi then took the trio of women to Market Street, where he said Hall went inside an apartment for a minute or two and then returned to the cab.
After leaving Market Street, the cab was taking the women to Kenduskeag Avenue when a Bangor police officer called him.
“He wanted to know if I picked up anybody on State Street,” the driver said. “All of a sudden, it gelled in my mind about what was going on.”
Mizrachi told the officer that he had stopped at the State Street bank with a fare and that “they’re still in the car.” He told the officer he was delivering them to an apartment building on Kenduskeag Avenue.
When the cab arrived at its Kenduskeag Avenue destination, Pitts quickly exited while the other two women remained in the cab and paid the $9.90 fare.
“They asked me, ‘Who are you talking to,'” Mizrachi said. “I said, ‘The police and they’re very interested in talking to you.'”
Bangor Police officers suddenly began to show up in force, some carrying black assault rifles. They asked Mizrachi’s two remaining passengers to step out of the vehicle and later took them into custody while they began their search for Pitts, who was found inside one of the apartments with $780 in cash.
Pitts was charged with bank robbery.
The cab driver said the three women were previously picked up by an Ace Taxi cab at around 4 a.m. and taken to Wiley Street. Mizrachi picked them up at 6:30 a.m. on Union Street and gave them a ride to the Kenduskeag Avenue apartment building. He then picked them up again at around 9:15 a.m. to give them a ride down to Bangor Savings Bank and arrived back at Kenduskeag Avenue with them at 10 a.m.
“The minute I realized what was going on, I was furious,” Mizrachi said. “I was furious at [Pitts’] audacity to use my cab.”