An Augusta man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the June 23 robbery of the Hallowell branch of the Bank of Maine.

John Cecil Slater, 66, was arraigned by Magistrate Judge John Nivison in U.S. District Court in Bangor on an indictment charging Slater with bank robbery. The indictment says, “The defendant took the money from Bank of Maine employees by force, violence, and intimidation.”

A second count in the indictment says that if Slater is convicted, the government is seeking forfeiture of a 2002 Yamaha motorcycle “derived from proceeds traceable to the violation.” The indictment was handed up by a federal grand jury on Aug. 13.

A separate order by Nivison on Wednesday says a trial in the case is set for Oct. 6 before U.S. District Court Chief Judge John A. Woodcock Jr.

Police identified Slater as the robbery suspect after viewing surveillance videos and issued a plea for the public’s help in locating him. He was described as armed and dangerous.

Slater was arrested by FBI agents July 9 in Twin Mountain, N.H., and has been in custody since then.

Documents unsealed after Slater’s arrest show investigators found paper similar to that used to write the bank robbery demand note in Slater’s apartment in Augusta.

The note said, “Im Here to Rob your Bank, no silent Alarms my cell Phone rings, your all dead, I have a hand grenade, and a gun, no marked bills, or inked, if so, one day I will come back and kill all of you, do you understand.???”

Along with the random capitalization, several words were underlined.

The text was included in an affidavit filed in federal court by FBI Special Agent Glenn D. Barnes.

Barnes’ affidavit says the robber fled the bank with $15,000 in $100 bills.

A conviction on the federal bank robbery charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years.

Several people who called police after recognizing the suspect’s image in the news media said Slater was moving from an apartment in Augusta to a mobile home in Gardiner, and one of them reported that Slater said he had a brain tumor.

Slater was represented at his arraignment by attorney William S. Maddox. Assistant U.S. Attorney F. Todd Lowell is prosecuting the case.

State and federal records indicate Slater has dozens of convictions across 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.

Slater was most recently released from federal custody on Aug. 5, 2009. He was serving a five-year sentence for possession of a firearm by a felon, a sentence that ran concurrently with sentences in Penobscot and Somerset counties.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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