CAMDEN, Maine — Acknowledging that a Camden woman had made a remarkable turnaround in her life, a judge sentenced her Monday to seven years in prison with all but 18 months suspended for robbing a Camden pharmacy nearly three years ago.
Justice John O’Neil told Hillary J. Johnson that with the three months she has already served and with good time credits, she could be free in 10 months.
The 24-year-old woman was arrested in February and charged with the December 2011 robbery of a Rite Aid Pharmacy. Her arrest came after Camden police received a tip that she had committed the robbery.
In the robbery, Johnson gave a note to the pharmacist reading, “Do what I say and no one will get hurt.” She also allegedly told the pharmacist if he tried anything, she would pull out a gun, though no weapon was ever displayed and she said Monday there was no gun.
The woman fled with four bottles of oxycodone acetaminophen.
Johnson initially denied to police that she committed the robbery but admitted to the crime after the pharmacist identified her through a photo lineup.
Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody had asked for a seven-year sentence with all but two-and-a-half years suspended. Defense attorney Justin Andrus had asked she serve only nine months.
Johnson told the judge she was a drug addict at the time of the crime and was not thinking. She said it was a spur of the moment action and she is remorseful for the fear she caused to the pharmacy workers.
Shortly after that crime, she became pregnant and now has a 2-year-old daughter. Dr. Judith Weisman, the medical director for the Rockland methadone clinic, said that Johnson has adhered to all the terms of her treatment. The director said she also has watched Johnson as a mother and that she is doing a great job.
Johnson’s grandmother and Johnson’s partner also spoke out on her behalf.
The prosecutor has said a significant sentence was needed to send a message to other people considering robbing a pharmacy.
The Rite Aid in Camden was targeted four times by robbers seeking painkillers in 2011 and 2012. The pharmacy has taken steps since then to improve security.