Bangor man sentenced for credit union robbery, theft

Posted April 21, 2011, at 3:55 p.m.
Last modified April 22, 2011, at 12:49 p.m.
Donovan Steen in January 2011
Courtesy photo
Donovan Steen in January 2011
Donovan Steen wipes away tears as he listens to his mother and stepfather speak on his behalf during his sentancing for bank robbery at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor on Thursday, April 21, 2011. With Steen is his attorney, William Bart.
BDN Photo by Kevin Bennett
Donovan Steen wipes away tears as he listens to his mother and stepfather speak on his behalf during his sentancing for bank robbery at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor on Thursday, April 21, 2011. With Steen is his attorney, William Bart.

BANGOR, Maine — A 20-year-old local man who robbed a downtown credit union in January and stole jewelry worth thousands of dollars from his mother to buy drugs will spend more than three years behind bars for the crimes.

Donovan W. Steen Jr. of Bangor was sentenced Thursday at the Penobscot Judicial Center to eight years in prison with all but 3½ years suspended before a dozen family members and friends.

He also must serve three years of probation after he completes his prison term and pay $1,150 in restitution to the credit union.

“I’d like to thank my friends and family,” an emotional Steen said before being sentenced. “I’d like to sincerely apologize to the bank teller. She did not deserve — nobody deserved — to be put in that position.”

Steen pleaded guilty on March 24 to robbery, theft by unauthorized taking and violation of conditions of release.

Steen’s mother, Melissa Downie, and his stepfather, James Downie, both of Glenburn, told the judge that they called the police “out of desperation” after the jewelry theft.

“We took the necessary steps to save his life,” James Downie said as his wife wept at his side. “We hope he comes out of this a better person.”

His plea agreement with the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office called for Assistant District Attorney Greg Campbell to recommend that Steen spend eight years behind bars with all but four years suspended and three years of probation.

Campbell made that recommendation to District Court Judge Bruce Jordan on Thursday. Defense attorney William Bart of Bangor argued that Steen should be sentenced to six years in prison with all but 18 months suspended.

Steen, who had no criminal record, faced up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000 for the robbery conviction. He faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 for the theft of the jewelry valued at $4,000, which has been recovered.

The defendant grew up in Bangor and recently returned to his hometown after a stay in Texas with his father and attempts at drug rehabilitation failed, Bart told Jordan on Thursday.

The robbery was not an attempt to obtain money to feed Steen’s drug habit, the defense attorney said. It was an effort to obtain enough drugs to commit suicide.

“When he was arrested, my client had just a small amount of cash,” the defense attorney said. “He spent nearly all the money he got from the bank on drugs. He injected them that night, but woke up the next morning.”

During the credit union heist, Steen handed the teller “a note that said he had a gun” and that demanded $1,000 in cash and left on foot after getting the money, the prosecutor said.

Bank surveillance images were released, and police received several calls, including one from Steen’s mother, who identified her son as the person in the video images, Campbell said.

Steen was arrested Jan. 19 after being interviewed by investigators, who also had physical evidence, including his shoes, connecting him to the robbery.

He has been held at the Penobscot County Jail since his arrest. That time is expected to be applied to his sentence.

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