Oakland man sentenced to 8 years for robbing credit union at knifepoint

Posted Sept. 11, 2012, at 3:05 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 11, 2012, at 3:45 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — An Oakland man was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court to eight years in prison for robbing a Skowhegan credit union more than three years ago.

Paul J. Garland, 27, also was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John Woodcock to five years of supervised release and was ordered to pay more than $9,000 in restitution.

Garland pleaded guilty in April to robbing at knifepoint the Taconnet Federal Credit Union, located on U.S. Route 201, on June 10, 2009. He and Forrest T. “Teddy” Goodwin Jr., 33, of Fairfield were indicted in November 2011 by a federal grand jury in connection with the bank robbery.

After a three-day trial in June, a jury found Goodwin not guilty of armed robbery and aiding and abetting armed robbery but guilty of being an accessory after the fact. His sentencing date has not been set.

The two men, wearing hooded sweatshirts and sunglasses, arrived at the credit union about 10:30 a.m. on a motorcycle, according to court documents.

Garland went inside and demanded money. He was initially calm, but a teller noticed a bit later that he was “agitated.”

Garland “came to the counter and [the teller] noticed that he had a knife in his hand,” according to the version of events to which Garland pleaded guilty. “The male told her to put all the money in the bag, which she noticed was a white, plastic shopping bag with red writing. As [the teller] was putting the money in the bag, the male banged on the counter with the knife and started yelling, ‘Faster, faster.’ After [the teller] put all the money in the bag, the male turned and left the building.”

Garland and Goodwin escaped on the motorcycle with $9,147, according to the court documents.

About two hours after the robbery, the motorcycle was found by police behind the residence where Garland was staying. The license plates on the motorcycle were from another vehicle.

On June 11, 2009, Garland fled the state without any luggage and stayed with a friend in Valparaiso, Ind., into mid-August, according to the court documents. While there, he paid cash for motels, food and entertainment.

Information about when Garland returned to Maine was not available in court documents. He was arrested in August in the Damariscotta area on state drug and other charges, according to Geoffrey Rushlau, district attorney for Lincoln County. He was being held at the Two Bridges Regional Jail unable to make bail on those charges when he was indicted Nov. 17 by a federal grand jury for the credit union robbery.

Garland was scheduled to go on trial in Lincoln County Superior Court in August. He also is facing charges in Kennebec County of receiving stolen property in connection with the theft of copper from Central Maine Power Co., according to Alan Kelley, acting district attorney for Kennebec County.

Garland is scheduled to appear Wednesday in Kennebec County Superior Court to plead guilty and be sentenced on the state charges, Rushlau said Tuesday in an email.

The bank robber, who has a long criminal history, faced up to 25 years in prison on the federal armed robbery charge and a fine of up to $250,000. Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, Garland’s recommended sentence was between seven years and eight years and nine months, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

If Garland had had no criminal history, he would have faced between three years and five months and four years and three months in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James McCarthy said after the sentencing that he recommended Woodcock impose the maximum sentence of nearly nine years, while defense attorney Joseph Bethony of Bangor urged the judge to impose a sentence at the low end of the guideline range.

He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 on the state charges.

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