ROCKLAND, Maine — A man who pleaded guilty to stealing $436 in coins from a woman in Rockland was sentenced Monday to serve three years in prison for the two heists he helped commit.
Joshua Ellis, 26, of Waldoboro pleaded guilty Monday at Knox County Superior Court to two counts of robbery, two counts of burglary, two counts of criminal restraint, two counts of theft, one count of criminal mischief and one count of obstructing the report of a crime. He was sentenced to seven years in prison with all but three years suspended.
Justice Jeffrey Hjelm did not consider the sentence appropriate but accepted the plea agreement reached by the prosecutor and defense attorney.
Hjelm said the three-year prison term “doesn’t reflect the seriousness of the crimes” because the man has an extensive criminal history involving theft, but the victim of the crime said she does not want to face the people who robbed her and relive that trauma.
“For that reason and that reason alone I will accept the recommendation,” Hjelm said.
According to court documents, Ellis and two other men smashed the glass on the door to get into the woman’s home on Jan. 20. Rockland Detective Sgt. Christopher Young wrote in his report that the woman tried to call for help, but “one of the male subjects pushed her and grabbed the telephone from her.” One of the robbers locked the woman in a room “while the other two males went through the house looking for money,” according to the police report.
During the robbery, the woman’s dog ran out of the house and into a neighbor’s yard, according to the report. When the neighbor went to get the dog and return it, he saw a man running out the front door and two other men smash out a back window and flee the house, police said.
After calling for help, the neighbor told police that the three who fled wore black masks and bandannas.
Soon after police arrived, Detective Russell Thompson alerted banks and stores about the robbery in case anyone tried to exchange a large amount of coins.
About 30 minutes after the burglary Ellis and Jossilyn Robbins, 25, of Rockland exchanged $436.29 in coins for paper money at a local bank, Thompson reported.
Still photos from surveillance cameras at the bank enabled police to identify Ellis and Robbins.
Sgt. Young interviewed Robbins, who told him that she dropped off the three men at the house and then picked them up and drove Ellis to the bank. Ellis paid her $50 for her services, she told police.
According to court documents, Ellis and another man victimized the same woman at her home on Jan. 2. Ellis admitted to stealing an undisclosed amount of money on that occasion too, according to the documents.
Ellis’ attorney, Jonathan Handelman, said his client would never have committed the crimes if he were sober.
“Substances were the cause of this. It’s not an excuse,” Handelman said, adding that he hopes three years in prison gives his client enough time to find sobriety.
Robbins, the driver, was sentenced on Sept. 24 for her role in the crimes. She received the same sentence, seven years in prison with all but three suspended for two counts of robbery, two counts of burglary and two counts of theft.
No information about the other suspects in the cases was obtained Monday.