ROCKLAND, Maine — The federal government may take over the prosecution of a 42-year-old Cushing man accused of robbing a local pharmacy at knifepoint last month.
The information was revealed Tuesday during a probation revocation hearing for Elbert M. Ranquist in Knox County Superior Court, but no action was taken.
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Baroody told Justice Jeffrey Hjelm that the federal government was looking into whether to take over the prosecution.
Defense attorney Philip Cohen also said he knows that FBI agents have spoken to witnesses in the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has put more of an emphasis on pharmacy robberies because of the increasing number. District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said that, depending on the circumstances of the case, federal prosecution can lead to a longer sentence.
Ranquist is being held at the Knox County Jail in Rockland in lieu of $20,000 cash or $80,000 surety bail.
An affidavit filed by police in court last month states that Curtis Jensen, owner of Jensen’s Pharmacy, reported he had been robbed by Ranquist. Jensen said he recognized Ranquist because he had been in the pharmacy two times earlier in the day to pick up prescriptions for himself and his wife. Though Ranquist was wearing a hoodie with the hood pulled up over his head, the pharmacist told police he recognized him by his appearance, voice and walk.
According to the affidavit, Ranquist went to the counter, pulled out a knife with a 4-to-5-inch long blade and demanded oxycodone pills. He then fled the store with 10 5-milligram oxycodone pills.
Another witness reported seeing a pink Jeep Wrangler parked in back of the Breakwater Marketplace where Jensen’s Pharmacy is located. Ranquist drives such a Jeep, which was found at his Cushing home shortly after the robbery. Ranquist denied robbing the store but at one point asked police whether he was going to get 10 years for this, according to the affidavit.
A knife, similar to the one reported at the robbery, was located at the home. A pair of sneakers that looked like the ones worn by the robber as shown on the store’s surveillance video also was found, according to the affidavit.
At the time of the robbery, Ranquist was on probation for an arson in Rockland.