BANGOR — A woman charged with holding up a downtown bank in July agreed Monday to plead guilty in U.S. District Court to bank robbery just hours after she denied committing the crime.
Matisha Marie Pitts, 25, of Bangor is scheduled to change her plea on Wednesday, Nov. 17.
It is not unusual for a defendant to plead guilty within four months of being charged, as Pitts has decided to do. The entry of her not guilty plea was delayed while she underwent a psychiatric evaluation out of state at a federal facility, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Pitts also agreed to be held without bail pending resolution of her case. She has been in federal custody since her arrest shortly after the robbery.
Before accepting Pitts’ not guilty plea Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk found her competent to enter the plea based on a psychiatrist’s report. The report is sealed under the health care privacy law.
The defendant, dressed in dark blue jail clothes, clearly answered, “Yes, Your Honor,” to a series of questions from the judge. Pitts also consulted with her attorney, Federal Public Defender Virginia Villa of Bangor.
When Pitts first appeared before Kravchuk the day after the bank was robbed, the defendant appeared to be unable to articulate information to the court about herself and her finances to determine whether she qualified for court-appointed counsel.
By pleading guilty, Pitts will admit that she entered Bangor Savings Bank on State Street around 9:30 a.m. July 6. She handed a note to a teller that demanded money and indicated she had a gun in her bag and would start shooting if anyone tried to stop her, according to court documents.
The bank employee handed over $1,390 in cash, and Pitts left the bank.
The note, including grammatical and spelling errors, said: “I have a gun in my purse give me all your 20s and tens or Ill start shooting if any 1 tries and stop me B4 I leave Ill shot No Joke,” according to court documents.
Witnesses later told police that a woman matching the description of the bank robber got into a taxi in front of Bangor Savings a few minutes after 9:30 a.m. Police traced the taxi to an apartment building on Kenduskeag Avenue, where Pitts was found.
After searching the apartment, police recovered $780 in cash but no weapon, according to court documents. The remaining money was not accounted for.
Pitts has a history of criminal activity dating back to 2004, mostly involving theft and forgery charges. Earlier this year, she was arrested in Ellsworth and charged with printing counterfeit money and trying to use the bills at local businesses. That case is pending.
She faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. She also could be ordered to pay restitution to the bank.