June 22, 2018
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Two men convicted of Glenburn, Orrington armed robberies

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Two men charged in connection with two armed robberies and a home invasion in September were convicted Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center of robbery, burglary and conspiracy charges.

Chester F. Birmingham, 36, of Bangor, formerly of Patten, pleaded no contest to three counts of Class A robbery and one count each of burglary and conspiracy to commit robbery, both class B crimes.

No contest pleas result in convictions.

In his plea agreement with the Penobscot County district attorney’s office, Birmingham is to be sentenced to 22 years in prison with all but 12 suspended, followed by four years of probation.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 29.

Donald A. Getchell Jr., 39, of Greenbush pleaded guilty Monday to one count each of robbery, burglary and conspiracy to commit robbery, all Class B crimes, and one count of violation of a condition of release, a Class E crime.

In a plea agreement with the prosecutor, Getchell was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison with all but three suspended, followed by three years of probation.

The first robbery at the Checkout Market convenience store, located at 1492 Pushaw Road in Glenburn, occurred about 1:25 p.m. Sept. 8, Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy told Superior Court Justice William Anderson shortly before Birmingham entered his pleas.

Birmingham walked into the business armed with a knife and threatened the clerk, the prosecutor said. He went behind the counter and took cash out of the register. Getchell drove the getaway car, Almy said.

The next night, Birmingham, Getchell and a third man, Benjamin J. Sprague, 30, a Bangor-area transient, targeted a couple in Orrington that Sprague had met before, the prosecutor told the judge. Birmingham and Sprague, wearing ski masks and armed with box-cutter type knives, held a woman at knifepoint and took items from her house on Center Drive. Getchell again drove the getaway car.

Sprague, who is not the Bangor City Council member with the same name, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to robbery in January. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison with all but four suspended and four years of probation, according to a previously published report.

The final robbery charge on which Birmingham was convicted stemmed from the attempted robbery of the Garland Street Market in Bangor about 9:50 p.m. Sept. 19. Birmingham entered the store wearing a mask and threatened the clerk, Almy said.

The clerk thwarted the robbery when he hit a panic button and locked himself in a storeroom, the prosecutor told the judge. Birmingham left empty handed when he ran from the store after the alarm sounded.

Birmingham was convicted on federal robbery charges for using a knife to hold up a Vermont pharmacy for OxyContin in May 2008, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Burlington. He was sentenced to five years and three months in federal prison and released on March 21, 2013.

He was serving a three-year term of supervised release after the federal sentence when he committed the robberies last year, according to information filed in the federal court system’s electronic case filing system. A motion to revoke his supervised release and send him back to federal prison is pending in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

Birmingham also is facing an aggravated assault charge in Cumberland County related to an alleged assault in April while he was housed at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.


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