AUGUSTA — A city man who said his opiate addiction led him to rob a Capitol Street pharmacy in November 2012 will spend more than three years in federal prison.

James P. Rich, 29, was given a 37-month sentence on a federal robbery charge, including three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution of $126, by Judge John Woodcock Jr. in U.S. District Court in Bangor on Wednesday morning, according to online court filings.

Rich is the first pharmacy robber sentenced after the federal government was invited to prosecute pharmacy robberies in Kennebec and Somerset counties earlier this year. Maeghan Maloney, the district attorney in the two counties, told the Kennebec Journal earlier this year that she gave the U.S. attorney’s office permission to prosecute pharmacy robbery cases because it is “able to get a stiffer sentence than we are.”

Rich robbed the CVS Pharmacy on Capitol Street on the afternoon of Nov. 28, handing an employee a note demanding oxycodone. An affidavit filed in U.S. District Court by FBI special agent Mark Miller said Rich wore a brown jacket, a black hooded sweatshirt, sunglasses and a ski mask. At the time, an employee didn’t know the robber’s gender because of the disguise.

Rich got pills and left the pharmacy on foot, and two CVS employees followed him. He dropped clothing and a pellet gun along the way. All of it was recovered by Augusta police, who found cigarette butts in the jacket.

The case got a break less than two weeks later, when a confidential informant called Augusta police to say a man named “James” had committed the robbery. Police checked an address given for Rich’s home by the informant and learned that Rich lived there. The same informant called at the end of January and gave Rich’s full name.

In February, Rich called police, saying he heard they wanted to talk to him. Police and FBI agents met with him, and he eventually admitted having robbed the store because he was addicted to opiates, and said he never intended to hurt anyone. Tests showed that DNA found on the cigarette butts matched DNA on the lighter, hood and gloves left near the scene. He was arrestedin March. Rich waived indictment and entered a guilty plea on a federal robbery charge in May.

The Capitol Street pharmacy was robbed three times in 2012, a historic year for pharmacy robberies statewide, and especially for Augusta, which saw nine of the state’s 52 robberies that year — more than any other city or town in the state. There have been 10 statewide this year, three of them in Augusta. The most recent occurred Wednesday at the Shaw’s supermarket on Western Avenue, which police believe may have been robbed by the same man on Monday. No arrest has been made in that case.

Rich had a minor criminal history in Augusta District Court before the robbery. He was fined $350 in September 2010 after a conviction on marijuana possession. He was fined a total of $200 after convictions of sale or use of drug paraphernalia in April 2005 and May 2004.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652 [email protected] Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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