A Gardiner man has admitted robbing Rite Aid pharmacies in Augusta and Gardiner.

Rudger S. Ellis, 22, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to a Feb. 7 robbery in Augusta and a Feb. 18 robbery in Gardiner. He will be sentenced later.

At his arraignment on May 21, 2015, in the same federal courthouse in Bangor, Ellis had pleaded not guilty.

At that time, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John Nivison warned Ellis that each charge carries a potential maximum imprisonment of 20 years. Nivison also appointed attorney Donald Brown to represent Ellis on the charges.

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney F. Todd Lowell, said Ellis was being held in state custody on the charges and sought to hold him in federal detention. Federal authorities prosecute most of the area pharmacy robberies.

“We don’t object to federal detention,” Brown said. “We’re hoping to get him into federal custody sooner rather than later.”

In connection with the Gardiner holdup, an affidavit by Gardiner police Detective Michael Durham says Ellis told the pharmacist that he wanted all the 30 mg oxycodone pills available at the pharmacy. He was given the pills and fled from the store.

“The suspect did not threaten use of a weapon, nor did he display a weapon or use any force during the commission of the crime,” Durham said. “The employees at the pharmacy were scared and clearly felt threatened by the conduct of the suspect.”

A witness told police that a green Pontiac Sunfire was parked on Spring Street with a man behind the wheel and a man in the front passenger’s seat, who got out and walked toward Rite Aid.

That same man later came running back to the car, which then drove away west on Spring Street, Durham wrote.

Steven C. Chaput, 39, was indicted in May by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Bangor on one count of interference with commerce by robbery and one count of pharmacy robbery. Prosecutors allege Chaput was driving the Sunfire as it sped away.

“Steven admitted that he did drive the suspect, who he identified as Rudger Ellis, to the Rite Aid in Gardiner and previously to the Rite Aid in Augusta where Rudger committed robberies,” Durham wrote in an affidavit supporting Chaput’s arrest.

Chaput is awaiting trial on the charges.

Police responding to the robbery passed the Pontiac but did not stop it because they didn’t know it allegedly had been used in the robbery, Durham wrote.

Augusta detectives Sgt. Jason Cote and Eric Dos Santos, who were investigating the Feb. 7 North Belfast Avenue Rite Aid robbery, looked at the surveillance video of the Gardiner robbery at Durham’s request and said the Augusta robber demonstrated the same behavior that the Gardiner robber did. The man in the Augusta holdup, however, told employees he had a firearm.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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