The man who drove the getaway vehicle in two pharmacy robberies pleaded guilty Monday to his role in the February holdups of Augusta and Gardiner Rite Aids.

Steven C. Chaput, 39, of Chelsea and Mount Vernon, had previously entered pleas of not guilty to the charges in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

An indictment charged him with interference with commerce by robbery by aiding and abetting Rudger S. Ellis, 22, of Gardiner, in the Feb. 7 robbery of the Rite Aid Pharmacy on North Belfast Avenue in Augusta and the Feb. 18 robbery of the Rite Aid Pharmacy on Spring Street in Gardiner.

The maximum penalty on each charge is 20 years in prison.

Ellis pleaded guilty a month ago to the two pharmacy heists and is awaiting sentencing.

Chaput too will be sentenced at a later date and is currently in jail in the custody of U.S. Marshals.

A witness to the Gardiner robbery 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 man later came running back to the car, which then drove away, according to a police affidavit filed in connection with the case that began in state court.

Chaput was later identified as the driver and owner of that vehicle. Chaput confessed to his role in both robberies.

“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,” Gardiner Police Detective Michael Durham wrote in an affidavit supporting Chaput’s arrest.

Police responding to the robbery passed the Pontiac but did not stop it because they didn’t know it was the getaway vehicle, Durham wrote.

Augusta detectives Sgt. Jason Cote and Eric Dos Santos, who were investigating the Feb. 7 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 pharmacy employees he had a firearm.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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