BANGOR — A 31-year-old Gardiner area man pleaded guilty Tuesday to robbing the Gardiner Rite Aid Pharmacy on Aug. 21, a crime he says he committed “to feed his opiate addiction.”

Jesse M. Mansir was arrested that same night by investigators who identified him through surveillance videos and who tracked him into the woods, where he had gone to get high on stolen oxycodone pills, according to the prosecution’s version of the offense filed in federal court.

Mansir had pleaded not guilty shortly after his arrest but changed his plea to guilty Tuesday morning in a brief hearing in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

Mansir told police he had robbed the pharmacy “to feed his opiate addiction” and had not been armed despite telling a pharmacy technician he had a gun, Assistant U.S. Attorney F. Todd Lowell wrote.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Ruge represented the government at Tuesday’s hearing.

The federal charge of “interference with commerce by robbery” carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Mansir was represented by attorney James Nixon. Mansir, whose hair was cut short, wore a bright yellow, short-sleeved jail uniform top that left his forearm tattoos visible and orange jail-issued pants.

Mansir had written the demand note on a torn receipt that listed purchases he and his girlfriend had made at a Hannaford supermarket late on Aug. 19.

Police located the matching part of the receipt at a Highland Avenue home not far from the pharmacy. The occupant told police Mansir had visited there about 9:30 a.m. Aug. 21, was “pissed off” and wrote something on the receipt, then tore it in half.

Less than an hour earlier, police had gone to a different Highland Avenue address in response to a complaint about a domestic disturbance involving Mansir and his girlfriend.

An affidavit by Gardiner police Officer Michael Durham, filed in state court, said Mansir and his girlfriend “were fighting because of what Jesse claimed: They are both drug addicts and ran out of drugs and she was mad.” The couple had their baby with them at the time, Durham wrote.

Durham’s affidavit says witnesses at the pharmacy reported that the robber said he had a gun and kept telling the pharmacists to hurry up.

Witnesses did not see a weapon, but video surveillance images showed the robber “kept one hand concealed in his clothing throughout the robbery,” Durham wrote.

The note said, “Shut the (expletive) up Fill with 30 15 Oxy methadone rids,” Lowell’s document said.

The robber fled the Spring Street pharmacy with bottles containing 200 oxycodone pills and a GPS tracking device, and the bottle with the device was later found on Highland Avenue, police said.

Mansir’s case had been set for Nov. 4 jury selection until he changed his plea.

On Sept. 26, Mansir had pleaded not guilty. On Tuesday, he told the judge he was actually guilty of the offense.

Mansir responded to a series of questions from U.S. District Court Judge John A. Woodcock in a firm voice. The questions, Woodcock said, were to determine whether Mansir was pleading guilty voluntarily.

Mansir said he went to school until ninth grade and had obtained a General Educational Development high school equivalency certificate. On Tuesday, Mansir said he was not under the influence of any drugs.

Woodcock said a sentencing hearing will be set following the issuance of a pre-sentence report by the federal probation office.

Mansir remains in state custody on other charges, Nixon told Woodcock. Nixon said if Mansir were to be released from state custody, he would be placed immediately in federal custody.

Outside the courtroom after the hearing, Nixon said he did not represent Mansir on the state charges. “Typically my office doesn’t comment until after the case is over,” he said.

Records in Kennebec County Superior Court indicate Mansir continues to be charged with the pharmacy robbery, which is expected to be dismissed in light of Tuesday’s plea.

Mansir also is charged with unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs in connection with a reported attempt to sell some of the stolen oxycodone the day of the robbery. He also is accused of committing an assault at the jail several days after his arrest.

Mansir’s next hearing in superior court is scheduled for Nov. 25.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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