Man accused of May credit union robbery in Bangor charged in federal court

Posted July 07, 2011, at 3:55 p.m.
Last modified July 07, 2011, at 6 p.m.
Thaddeus Peter McDonald
Courtesy of Penobscot County Jail
Thaddeus Peter McDonald

BANGOR, Maine — The man accused of robbing a Bangor credit union May 25 has been charged in federal court with the crime.

Thaddeus Peter McDonald, 32, of Augusta originally was charged on May 27 in Penobscot County with Class B robbery and Class C theft by unauthorized taking in connection with the unarmed robbery of the Penobscot County Federal Credit Union. If McDonald is convicted in federal court, those charges most likely would be dismissed.

He is scheduled to make his first appearance Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk in federal court in Bangor.

In federal court, McDonald faces up to 20 years in prison, twice as much time as he would have faced if convicted under state law, for the robbery and theft of more than $6,300.

“There is no hard and fast rule about when the local district attorney or my office prosecutes,” U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II said Thursday. “We have concurrent authority, so the decision is made in consultation with a DA’s office, taking into consideration a number of factors.”

Those factors, he said, include whether a gun or other weapon is used, whether the threat of a gun or some other form of violence is made, and the defendant’s background and criminal history.

McDonald did not use a gun and did not threaten violence but he told Bangor police that he is on probation for aggravated forgery and has convictions on his record for burglary and statutory rape.

McDonald has been held at Penobscot County Jail since his arrest a short time after the robbery unable to make bail set at $15,000 cash or $50,000 surety in state court. Federal prosecutors have requested he be held without bail until his case is resolved.

McDonald told Bangor detectives that he committed the crime on impulse after recent traumas in his life, including the death of his wife and the loss of his children.

Just after his arrest, McDonald tried to explain away the wads of cash in his pockets and wallet by telling investigators he had just cashed his “federal check,” but later confessed to Bangor police Detective Tim Cotton that he committed the robbery out of desperation, according to an affidavit written by Cotton and filed at the Penobscot Judicial Center. McDonald allegedly told Cotton he didn’t want to hurt anyone, especially the clerk he is accused of robbing.

“I had no intention of harming him; it wasn’t like I threatened him,” said McDonald of the clerk. “It wasn’t even like he took me serious.”

The clerk, who was the only credit union employee to witness the robbery, told Bangor police Patrol Officer Brian Smith that at first he didn’t take McDonald seriously.

According to Smith’s report, McDonald went into the credit union and at first asked for a withdrawal slip. When the clerk asked for an account number, McDonald allegedly said, “How about you give me all the money in that drawer?”

“[The clerk] stated at first that he thought the male was joking and laughed,” wrote Smith. “The male then stated, ‘I’m serious.’ [The clerk] realized that he was and started to unload his drawer.”

After the clerk had pulled some of the cash from the drawer, McDonald interrupted him by saying, “That’s good,” before fleeing from the bank and removing a black sweatshirt outside.

Affidavits filed by several Bangor officers explained how McDonald used some of the cash to first secure a room at the Charles Inn and then hired a driver with Town Taxi for a more than $200 ride to Augusta. Based on information from a witness, police stopped the taxi near mile marker 180 on Interstate 95 and apprehended McDonald without incident.

McDonald allegedly told officers that he has been “stuck and broke” lately, especially since the recent drug overdose of his wife in Augusta, which led to McDonald losing custody of his four children.

“It was an impulsive decision [to rob the credit union],” McDonald said to Cotton. “I was desperate and it was an impulsive decision, that’s the honest-to-God truth.”

At Cotton’s urging, McDonald wrote an apology to the credit union clerk involved in the robbery.

“I just wanted to take the time to say I am truly sorry for what happened earlier,” wrote McDonald.

McDonald originally told police his middle name was Justice. Documents filed in state and federal court list his legal middle name as Peter.

This was the second time this year that the Penobscot County Federal Credit Union has been robbed. The bank, with an entrance that is almost hidden underneath the Merchants Plaza building, was robbed on Jan. 18, as well.

Donovan W. Steen Jr., 20, of Bangor later pleaded guilty to robbery charges associated with that incident and was sentenced to 3½ years in prison.

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