An Augusta man with dozens of convictions, ranging from forgery to sexual assault of a child, is believed to behind last month’s holdup at a Hallowell bank.

The FBI and police say 66-year-old John Cecil Slater is responsible for the June 23 robbery at Bank of Maine on Winthrop Street. Investigators are seeking the public’s help in finding Slater, whom they described as armed and dangerous.

The FBI believes Slater may have several firearms. He reportedly has martial arts training and was a combat Marine in Vietnam. He is known to take medication of psychiatric issues and may not be taking it currently, according to the FBI.

State and federal records indicate Slater has dozens of convictions across the midcoast and central Maine dating back to 1978. Slater, who in 1995 was convicted of two counts of gross sexual assault, is a lifetime registrant on the Maine Sex Offender Registry. He was sentenced in Somerset County Superior Court in August 1995 to 14 years in prison, with all but seven years suspended, for raping two children, one of whom was younger than 14.

The bank robbery occurred around 10 a.m. on a Monday when a neatly dressed older told tellers at the bank at 14 Winthrop St. he had a grenade, according to initial scanner traffic, and demanded money. Hallowell Police Chief Eric Nason has declined to confirm the report of the grenade.

Nason said the man asked to open an account then handed over a note that made a threat and demanded money. Bank staff gave him an undisclosed amount of money and he left on foot, reportedly walking down Winthrop Street. The robber never showed a weapon.

The robber was described a man in his late 60s or early 70s, roughly 6 feet tall and about 175 pounds, which closely matches the profile provided by the FBI. At the time of the robbery, Slater was reportedly wearing a straw hat, brown suit jacket, a blue shirt, tan or brown pants and brown shoes, and he was carrying a brown briefcase.

The U.S. District Court of Maine on June 27 issued an arrest warrant charging Slater with bank robbery after the FBI searched property associated with Slater, who lives at 392 Western Ave. in Augusta, according to the sex offender registry.

Slater was sentenced in 1978 to 30 days in jail and one year probation for a theft conviction. It was the first of dozens of convictions in the state, including possession of a firearm by a felon a year later. He was sentenced to two years in prison in 1979 for an additional two theft convictions and in 1986 was sentenced to five years in prison and two years probation for another theft conviction.

In addition to another firearm possession and numerous other theft convictions, Slater has convictions for forgery, terrorizing, carrying a concealed weapon, violating conditions of release and negotiating a worthless instrument. Most of those convictions resulted in less than a year in prison, but Slater was sentenced to three years in prison for a theft conviction in 1995 and five years in prison for two theft convictions in 2001.

Slater was arrested in in 2001 in Somerset County on a number of warrants after he was found by an animal control officer investigating the owner of a puppy left chained to a camp in Kingsbury Plantation, according to Bangor Daily News archives.

Slater appeared in federal court in 2000 and was sentenced to five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Slater’s supervised release began in December 2007. Less than a year later, a federal arrest warrant was issued after he reportedly wrote a $12,500 check to buy a 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe in Iowa. The account attached to the check was closed, according to court documents. He was arrested in Amherst, Ohio, a couple days later.

At the same time, Maine State Police were in the process of securing an arrest warrant for Slater for writing a bad check to a Madison realty company as a down payment on a home. That check, too, was written on a closed account. Slater in August 2009 was found guilty of negotiating a worthless instrument. He was sentenced to 24 hours in jail and ordered to pay $2,000 restitution.

Slater was released from federal prison in 2009.

Slater is 66, about 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 200 pounds. He has brown hair and hazel eyes. Slater has tattoos on both arms and has a left hand deformity due to a previous injury.

Investigators ask anyone with information on Slater to call Augusta Police at 626-2370, Hallowell Police at 623-3131 or the FBI at 617-742-5533. Tips also can be submitted at tips.fbi.gov.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4


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