AUGUSTA — Tips from informants, loose lips and closed circuit video surveillance images led authorities to arrest suspects in two recent city pharmacy robberies.

Details of the investigation are laid out by Augusta Police Detective Jason Cote in an affidavit filed in Kennebec County Superior Court. The affidavit, which was unsealed this past week, sought an arrest warrant for 19-year-old Carmine Anthony Fazzi Jr., of Augusta, who is charged with robbing a CVS and Rite Aid in the city in February.

Police are combating a recent spate of pharmacy robberies throughout central Maine — there have been a dozen since August — including some pharmacies that have been targeted repeatedly.

The affidavit against Fazzi outlines tactics police use to track down pharmacy robbers, who often flee from the scene without being caught.

“One of the problems in solving these offenses is the anonymity in the offense,” said Acting District Attorney Alan Kelley, whose office prosecutes those pharmacy robberies in Kennebec and Somerset counties. “In that the situation, all police are left with is a video and maybe the identity is obscured. There’s very little evidence to go on, and basically you’re starting with no leads.”

Kelley said the investigations take a lot of time and effort.

“These are difficult to solve and important to solve because of the underlying drug problem that these robberies are indicative of,” Kelley said. “We see them show up in other crimes like home invasions, burglaries.”

Fazzi, of Augusta, who was arrested in Greenburg, N.Y., on an assault charge, returned to Maine a week ago.

A grand jury in Kennebec County on Thursday indicted him on the robbery charges, which carry a maximum prison terms of 10 years each. An indictment means sufficient evidence is present to proceed with formal charges and a trial in superior court.

Fazzi remains in the Kennebec County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 worth of property.

Chicken and babies

The Augusta detective’s affidavit shows just how much digging, listening and coordinating went into the investigation that led to Fazzi’s arrest.

In the Feb. 13 holdup of a CVS on Stone Street, a sunglasses-wearing robber gave a note to a pharmacy technician saying he had a gun and that she should put all the oxycodone in a bag, according to the affidavit. Two robbers, both men, made off with 10 bottles filled with a total of 988 5-milligram oxycodone pills, or “babies” in street lingo.

In the second robbery, however, the demand was more specific.

The taller of two robbers passed a note to the pharmacy technician: “I HAVE A GUN AND WILL SHOOT U HAVE 30 SECONDS TO FILL THE WALMART BAG WITH OXYCODONE 30 MG AND 15 MG!!! DO NOT ACT SUSPICIOUS!!!”

The police were on Fazzi’s trail within four days of the CVS robbery. A woman called a Maine State Police tipline to report that she overheard Fazzi and a man nicknamed Chicken talking about their involvement in that holdup.

Cote said he checked a video surveillance. The robber with the sunglasses resembled Fazzi, who is 6 feet tall and 165 pounds.

Then, Detective John Bourque of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office contacted Augusta police to say an informant reported Chicken had a large quantity of “babies” for sale Feb. 15, for $4 each. That informant said the sale was highly unusual for Chicken, who reportedly dealt mainly in cocaine, heroin and 30-milligram oxycodone pills.

The babies sold within two days, Chicken relayed in a text message to the informant, who posed as a potential buyer.

Filling the prescription

The investigation continued, and then the Rite Aid on North Belfast Avenue was robbed at 7:30 p.m. seven days later, on Feb. 20.

Again, two young men wearing dark-colored sweatshirts with the hoods up, one wearing sunglasses that looked like goggles, handed a note to the clerk and got three bottles with a total of 205 30-milligram oxycodone pills and three bottles containing 266 15-milligram oxycodone pills.

The pair then ran across North Belfast Avenue.

Surveillance video shows two figures getting out of a pickup truck parked on Purinton Avenue and walking to the pharmacy. A few minutes later, they ran back, got into the passenger side of the truck, and took off. Police deduced a third person was driving.

A day later, a man told police that Fazzi showed up at his apartment within minutes of the robbery carrying bottles of oxycodone pills, talking about how he robbed Rite Aid and CVS.

The tipster told police Fazzi said, “All I got at CVS were babies and I got rid of them.”

That man reportedly identified the getaway truck driver as 18-year-old Daniel Rines of Pittston.

Augusta police said they found five pill bottle caps that had been discarded not far from the apartment, and were able to match the lot numbers to those being sold by Rite Aid.

Rines said Fazzi contacted him for a ride the night of Feb. 20, and Rines thought that Fazzi and a second man were buying marijuana, so Rines gave Fazzi $25 to buy him a bag.

Rines said he took them to the Bangor Street area and waited.

When they returned carrying pill bottles in a bag, he asked what happened. Rines said Fazzi told him “he handed a note to the pharmacy and filled the prescription.”

Rines said he was very nervous, but took a handful of pills himself.

Police said they found a Walmart bag stuffed in Rines’ truck, and a pair of white latex gloves. Later, Rines turned over nine 30-milligram oxycodone pills, police said.

Rines was issued a summons to court in connection with the Rite Aid robbery.

Fazzi will be arraigned on the robbery charges at 8:30 a.m. May 29 in Kennebec County Superior Court.

At his initial court appearance, Fazzi said he would be asking for a court-appointed attorney, which was not acted upon by late last week.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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