ROCKLAND, Maine — The federal government is seeking to charge a 42-year-old Cushing man accused of robbing a local pharmacy at knifepoint three months ago.
The information was revealed Tuesday during a probation revocation hearing for Elbert M. Ranquist in Knox County Superior Court. Ranquist is on probation for a 2009 conviction for an arson that occurred in Rockland.
Defense attorney Philip Cohen said Tuesday in court he knows of a witness who was called to testify a few weeks ago before a federal grand jury. The parties had acknowledged two months ago that the U.S. Attorney’s Office was considering whether to pursue the case federally.
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Baroody told Justice Jeffrey Hjelm that the federal government said it would make a decision on whether to charge Ranquist with a federal crime before the district attorney’s office would have to make a decision on whether to indict him in state court. The next grand jury in Knox County is scheduled to meet in mid-February.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has put more of an emphasis on pharmacy robberies because of the increasing number of them. Depending on the circumstances of the case, prosecution under a federal charge can lead to a longer sentence.
Ranquist is being held at 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.
According to the affidavit, Ranquist went to the counter, pulled out a knife with a 4- to 5-inch blade and demanded oxycodone pills.