April 25, 2018
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Robber and bank teller weep as judge hands down four-year sentence

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The woman who demanded money and the bank teller she threatened last summer wept Thursday when a federal judge sentenced Matisha Marie Pitts, 25, of Bangor to four years in prison.

Pitts pleaded guilty in November to robbing the Bangor Savings Bank on State Street.

“It pains me to know that our paths crossed,” Pitts said to the teller shortly before she was sentenced. “I beg you to forgive me. I would unharm you if I could.”

The teller, who is not being identified by the Bangor Daily News, wiped away tears as Pitts spoke. A few minutes earlier, she had told the judge the robbery had taken away her sense of safety. The teller urged U.S. District Judge John Woodcock in sentencing Pitts to send a message to would-be bank robbers so there would be no more victims like her.

Members of Pitts’ family, including her father and sister, sat behind her during the sentencing and urged the judge not to impose too harsh a sentence.

Woodcock also sentenced Pitts to three years of supervised release after she completes her prison term. She was ordered to pay $610 in restitution — the amount that was not recovered of the $1,390 taken from the bank.

Pitts faced up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, she faced between three years 10 months and four years nine months behind bars.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey recommended the four-year sentence the judge imposed. Federal Public Defender Virginia Villa urged Woodcock to sentence Pitts to three years in prison.

In handing down the sentence, the judge noted Pitts’ difficult childhood and mental health problems for which she needs regular medication. He also pointed out that she had been convicted of seven crimes in state court in the past decade and still has cases pending in Hancock and Penobscot counties.

“You are a very nice, gentle person when you are on your medications,” Woodcock said. “But when you are off your meds, you’re a terror.”

By pleading guilty, Pitts admitted that she entered Bangor Savings Bank on State Street around 9:30 a.m. July 6, 2010, and handed a note to a teller that demanded money. Pitts 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 has not been accounted for.

Pitts has been held without bail since her arrest. That time will be credited to her sentence.

In addition to the federal charge, Pitts is facing forgery charges in Hancock County and an assault charge in Penobscot County that allegedly occurred at the jail shortly after her arrest.

She is expected to be sentenced in those cases within the next several weeks.

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