South Portland man pleads not guilty to bank robbery

Posted July 22, 2013, at 6:03 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — A South Portland man charged with robbing a bank in April with a gun stolen last year from the car of a Cumberland County sheriff’s detective pleaded not guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to charges connected with the armed robbery.

Joseph Morrill, 23, pleaded not guilty to one count each of bank robbery, aiding and abetting interference with commerce by robbery of a convenience store, use or carrying of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and possession of a stolen firearm.

A trial date tentatively was set for Sept. 3.

Morrill was indicted July 10 by a federal grand jury in connection with the April 22 robbery of a TD Bank branch in South Portland of more than $5,600 and the April 17 robbery of a Cumberland Farms store at gunpoint in the same city.

Last month, he agreed to be held without bail at the Cumberland County Jail pending the outcome of his case.

The .40 caliber Glock handgun and a Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office badge were among the items reported stolen Sept. 21 from the vehicle of a detective in South Portland, according to the affidavit filed last month in federal court. The document did not say whether the car was the detective’s personal vehicle or belonged to Cumberland County.

Morrill allegedly walked into the bank on Market Street in South Portland about 5:30 p.m. April 22, pointed the stolen gun at the teller and demanded money. He fled on foot out the back door of the building, according to the affidavit.

With the help of a K-9 team, the robber’s scent was traced to “an area of bushes behind the bank surrounded by a small patch of grass, behind an adjacent building on Ocean Street,” the affidavit said. There, officers found a cellphone, a cigarette butt and an indentation in the grass that appeared to be the tracks of a bicycle leading away from the bank.

The police located Morrill at a friend’s house after tracing incoming calls to the phone found behind the bank, according to the affidavit. Investigators also found a text message on Morrill’s phone to the friend at whose home he was found that references Morrill’s having the gun and his plan to rob the bank.

If convicted, Morrill faces 30 years in federal prison on the charge related to the Cumberland Farms robbery, up to 25 years in prison on the bank robbery charge, and up to 10 years in prison on the gun charge.

On the allegation that Morrill used a firearm during the robberies, Morrill faces between seven years and life in prison if convicted. The sentence on that charge would be served following sentences imposed on the robberies.

Morrill also could be fined up to $250,000 and be ordered to pay restitution.

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