Bus driver charged in heist waives bail, remains in jail

Posted July 19, 2010, at 6:15 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:35 a.m.
This Tuesday, July 13, 2010 security camera photo released by the Orono, Maine police shows Robert Ferguson, of Lowell, Mass., at Bangor Savings Bank in Orono.  Ferguson, a Greyhound bus driver, was arrested at a Bangor motel early Wednesday, July 14 after police received a tip from a motel employee. (AP Photo/Orono Police Dept. via Bangor Daily News) NO SALES; MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
AP
This Tuesday, July 13, 2010 security camera photo released by the Orono, Maine police shows Robert Ferguson, of Lowell, Mass., at Bangor Savings Bank in Orono. Ferguson, a Greyhound bus driver, was arrested at a Bangor motel early Wednesday, July 14 after police received a tip from a motel employee. (AP Photo/Orono Police Dept. via Bangor Daily News) NO SALES; MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

BANGOR, Maine — The Greyhound bus driver charged with robbing an Orono bank last week and a Rhode Island bank in May and who is a possible suspect in nine other bank robberies around New England will remain jailed in Maine.

Robert Ferguson, 47, of Lowell, Mass., waived his right to a bail hearing Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk in U.S. District Court.

The judge told Ferguson that if she had granted bail, he would have been turned over to law enforcement officials in Rhode Island. A warrant for Ferguson from state court there was issued Thursday charging him with robbing the Pawtucket Federal Credit Union on May 27 in Warwick, R.I.

Ferguson’s court-appointed attorney, Jon Haddow of Bangor, said Monday he anticipates more bank robbery charges would be filed against his client even though complaints have not been filed in federal courts in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts or New Hampshire.

“From what I’m hearing that wouldn’t surprise me,” Haddow said outside the courthouse after the brief hearing Monday. He made the statement in response to a reporter’s question about the possibility that his client would be charged with bank robberies attributed by the FBI to a man dubbed the “burly bandit.”

Haddow did not specify with whom he had spoken about his client’s facing more bank robbery charges. Nor did he say when he expected they would be filed.

The bus driver appears to be under investigation by the FBI as the “burly bandit” responsible for at least 10 bank robberies in five states, including Maine. An attempt could be made to link Ferguson to the other robberies through the DNA sample the FBI said he gave voluntarily to investigators in Bangor.

The FBI called the New England robber the burly bandit because of his stocky build, and on the day of the bank robbery in Orono it offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to his arrest and capture.

The burly bandit concealed his face in a variety of ways, using sunglasses, a wig, a fake beard, and several hats, including a straw cowboy hat, the FBI said in announcing the reward. He threatened to kill tellers at the New England banks, as Ferguson is alleged to have done in the Orono robbery. The burly bandit always left on foot, according to the FBI.

In answer to a question from a Massachusetts television reporter, Haddow said he had not discussed the nickname “the burly bandit” with his client.

“I have not talked with him about that moniker, and he has not mentioned it to me,” the defense attorney said.

Ferguson appeared in court Monday wearing the same clothes he wore during his first appearance last week — a pair of dark blue nylon shorts and a black T-shirt with a white skull and crossbones emblazoned on the front. This week, however, he wore a pair of bright orange slip-on sneakers. Last week, he appeared before the judge in his stocking feet.

Haddow told reporters his client was receiving in jail the medication for bipolar disorder and depression that he requested at his first court appearance Thursday, held two days after he allegedly robbed the Bangor Savings Bank branch in Orono.

The defense attorney said he agreed with his client’s decision not to go through with a bail hearing because he expected the judge to set a very high bail that Ferguson would not be able to meet. Haddow also said that U.S. Probation and Pre-trial Services had recommended in its written report to the court that Ferguson be held without bail. The report is not a public document.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Torresen declined Monday to comment on the case or whether further charges against Ferguson were expected. It is the practice of the U.S. Attorney’s Office not to comment on cases until they have been concluded.

“The investigation is continuing,” FBI spokeswoman Gail A. Marcinkiewicz, who is based in Boston, said Monday when asked about further charges being filed against Ferguson for bank robberies in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Haddow said he expected his client to be indicted by a federal grand jury later this month or early next month for the July 13 bank robbery in Orono. Ferguson’s next court appearance is expected to be an arraignment in early August, according to Haddow.

If Ferguson were to be indicted by federal grand juries in other states for bank robberies attributed to the “burly bandit,” the cases could be consolidated into one case in one federal court. That, however, is not likely to happen before fall.

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Banks hit by man fitting the description of the “burly bandit”:

April 12 — Bank of America, Darien, Conn.

April 27 — Lowell Five Cent Savings Bank, Tewksbury, Mass.

May 5 — Digital Credit Union, Tyngsboro, Mass.

May 17 — Rollstone Bank & Trust, Fitchburg, Mass.

May 27 — Pawtucket Federal Credit Union, Warwick, R.I.

May 27 — Rockland Federal Credit Union, North Attleboro, Mass.

June 1 — Hampshire First Bank, Londonderry, N.H.

June 1 — Pentucket Bank, Hampstead, N.H.

June 24 — Webster Bank, Somers, Conn.

July 2 — Ocean Bank, Merrimack, N.H.

July 13 — Bangor Savings Bank, Orono, Maine.

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

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