BANGOR — When John Cecil Slater robbed a Hallowell bank branch in June 2014, armed with a loaded gun in his pocket and claiming to have a hand grenade, he didn’t need the money.

He was receiving $3,433 monthly in veteran’s disability and Social Security benefits when he demanded $15,000 from a bank employee.

Slater’s income was listed in documents filed in federal court by his attorney, William S. Maddox, in advance of Friday’s sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

“At the time of the offense, defendant was in good financial condition, having just purchased a new home and vehicle,” Maddox wrote, adding that Slater still does not know why he committed the robbery. Slater could only speculate that, on the eve of being financially independent and secure, “he subconsciously needed the stricture of institutional life.”

Slater, 68, most recently of Gardiner, will now spend the next 115 months — more than nine years — in a federal penitentiary. If he serves that entire sentence, he would be 77 years old when he’s eligible for release.

U.S. District Court Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. imposed the maximum term available under federal sentencing guidelines during the hearing Friday morning, saying Slater had one of the longest and most persistent criminal histories he had seen.


“You seem like a gentle soul today in the courtroom, but you weren’t a gentle soul that day in Hallowell,” Woodcock said.

“Ever since I got back from Vietnam, I don’t feel like I belong anywhere,” Slater said at the hearing. “I’m not comfortable in the community and I don’t like being in prison.”

Slater’s hands and lower arms shook as he stood to respond to the judge’s questions about his education, his medicine regime and other topics.

“I haven’t had any alcohol in 34 years,” Slater said. He disputed a finding in his pre-sentence report that he had spent several periods in custody in Texas. He agreed with the statement that he was convicted in 1983 of stealing a truck and served time for that.

The hearing was more like a dialogue, as Slater interrupted the judge occasionally to comment.

“For the teller that day, you became her worst nightmare,” Woodcock said.


He said Slater not only met her face to face, but he was armed. “And she knows that now. She knows she sat across from a man who had a loaded gun in his pocket and was threatening to kill her.”

Woodcock told Slater, “You have committed the worst crime of your life in your late 60s.”

Maddox submitted background and financial information to the court as part of his argument that Woodcock should impose a lesser sentence than the 92 to 115 months guideline sentence calculation. That calculation takes into account Slater’s criminal history, which includes a series of state and federal crimes, including sex offenses, forgery and theft, among others.

Slater, who pleaded guilty in October 2014 to the bank robbery, wanted his guideline sentence reduced because of his mental and emotional condition and his military service.

Most recently, he had served a 60-month sentence after a conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm and a two-year sentence for forging checks, according to the prosecutor, assistant U.S. Attorney F. Todd Lowell.

Information cited from the pre-sentencing report says Slater was in the military from 1968 to 1971, including 169 days of active duty in Vietnam.


The note Slater used in the June 23, 2014, robbery in Hallowell stated: “Im Here to Rob your Bank, no silent Alarms my cell Phone rings, your all dead, I have a hand genade, and a gun, no marked bills, or inked, if so, one day I will come back and kill all of you, do you understand.???” Slater did not actually have a hand grenade.

Lowell told the judge at the hearing that Slater terrorized not only the individual teller and the other bank employees, but also the community itself.

“It shouldn’t be an act of bravery to go to work in a bank,” Lowell said.

Because of Slater’s extensive criminal history, Lowell said, “he has demonstrated convincingly he has no place in our society.”

Lowell asked for a sentence of 115 months in prison, the top of the guideline range, as well as three years of supervised release.

Maddox suggested a sentence of 48 months, well below the minimum guideline of 92 months.


Maddox said Slater has enough money in his VA account to pay the $15,000 restitution fully as soon as the paperwork is processed. Between $1,000 and $2,000 of the money was recovered when Slater was arrested, and a 2002 motorcycle he bought with some of the stolen money was turned over to the government.

“He had moved to a new place and he liked it, and he had a new vehicle,” Maddox said. “It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Slater told the judge he was sorry for robbing the bank and for leaving the woman in fear.

“I never showed her my gun.” Slater said.

“But you had one,” Woodcock responded.

“I had one in my coat pocket,” Slater acknowledged.


“And it was loaded,” Woodcock said.

Slater requested placement at either the Federal Medical Center Devens in Devens, Massachusetts, or the Federal Medical Center Butner in Butner, North Carolina, “in order to properly assess and treat his Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, anxiety, depression and left arm paralysis, arthritis, as well as his the lesion on his nose,” Maddox wrote. “Defendant feels that his conditions will get worse.”

Woodcock recommended placement in a federal medical facility.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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