BANGOR — A Waterville man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a federal robbery charge in connection with a March 31 holdup of the Rite Aid pharmacy on Moosehead Trail in Newport.

James J. Senior, 39, was indicted last week by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Bangor on the robbery charge.

“The defendant took the controlled substances from Rite Aid employees against their will by using threatened force, violence, and a fear of immediate and future injury to the employees,” the indictment says.

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney F. Todd Lowell, sought to have Senior held in federal custody if he is released from state custody, citing in the motion, “a significant criminal history” and probable cause to believe he committed “a serious crime of violence.” Senior was arrested on the pharmacy robbery charge on April 1.

Senior, represented by attorney James Nixon, entered his plea of not guilty Wednesday during a brief arraignment hearing before Magistrate Judge John Nivison. Nivison scheduled the case for the July trial list.

Senior waived his right to a separate detention hearing and agreed to go into federal custody should he be released from state custody. He’s being held in the Penobscot County jail on state charges in connection with the same robbery.

Published records indicate Senior turned himself in to Newport police the day after the robbery and admitted to doing it.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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Twitter: @betadams