RUMFORD — Bail was set Wednesday at $40,000 for the Franklin County inmate who escaped custody a day earlier while being transported between jails and allegedly assaulted an officer, then assaulted a woman, stole her car and led police on a chase before crashing the car and being recaptured.

Derek Cook, 31, of Wilton, appeared by video Wednesday afternoon in Rumford District Court on seven of the 14 counts he is charged with by three law enforcement agencies involved in Tuesday’s chase. Judge Nancy Carlson set the bail for Cook at cash only, which he’d have to post personally.

Cook has an extensive criminal record that includes previously running from authorities — allegedly leaving his 8-year-old son behind in the process, it was revealed in court.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins had recommended that Cook’s bail be set at $50,000 cash because of the severity of the charges, including the alleged assault of a woman and theft of her car as he fled from sheriff’s deputies Tuesday. Wednesday charges were robbery, Class A; escape, Class B; burglary, Class B; theft, Class C; assault on an officer, Class C; eluding an officer, Class C; and assault, Class D.

A request by defense attorney Luann Calcagni on behalf of Cook to set bail at $10,000 cash or surety to be posted by a third party was denied by Carlson.

Robbins said the charges of escape and eluding an officer demonstrate that Cook is “not willing to participate in the judicial process,” therefore his bail needs to be high enough to ensure he appears in court.

In support of his bail recommendation, Robbins also pointed to Cook’s criminal record dating back to 2006, when he was convicted of criminal mischief and theft.

In 2014, Cook was convicted of stalking and violating conditions of release. Additionally in 2014, Cook was convicted of unlawful trafficking of oxycodone in Wilton, according to court documents, for which he was sentenced to two years in jail, with all but five months suspended, and two years of probation.

Robbins said Cook had numerous pending violation of probation issues in the Auburn area over the last year, including in January, when he allegedly left his son behind to run from police and a probation officer, resulting in a child endangerment charge.


Cook was arrested on Feb. 25 by Auburn police on a Franklin County warrant for a probation violation and was being held at the Androscoggin County Jail until Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, Cook was picked up from the Androscoggin jail by a Franklin County transport officer, Phil Richards, who was the only officer in the van that was taking Cook and two other inmates to Franklin County Jail in Farmington, about 40 miles away.

As the van neared Farmington, Cook slipped out of one of his handcuffs and escaped from the side door of the van just before 10 a.m. on Route 133 in Wilton. Richards chased Cook and the two scuffled; then Richards brought Cook back to the van.

Once at the van, another fight erupted. Richards pepper-sprayed Cook, but Cook got away and ran down the road, still in ankle shackles and with one of his handcuffs attached to a stomach band. Richards called for assistance rather than follow because he had to stay with the two other inmates in the van.

Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols said it is protocol for only one officer to be transporting inmates when they are “non-high-risk,” as was the case Tuesday when Cook escaped.

He said the risk level depends on the severity of charges against an inmate.

He said it’s protocol for all inmates to be shackled in leg irons, handcuffs and stomach bands while they’re being moved, “to mitigate escape, because you just never know.”

Despite the precautions, though, getting free “can be done,” Nichols said.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” he said Tuesday.

Nichols said Wednesday that because of Cook’s attempted escape, he is now classified as a high-risk inmate, meaning two transport officers will escort him.


After Cook’s escape from custody, he allegedly kicked in the locked door of a residence on Route 133 about a quarter-mile from where he fled the van, and police say he assaulted the homeowner when she tried to call 911.

He allegedly forced the woman to give him the keys to her Jeep Cherokee, and he drove off toward U.S. Route 2.

Police were caught up with Cook, who led state, Wilton and Farmington police on a chase through Wilton and into Chesterville, at times reaching speeds of 110 mph, according to Robbins.

Cook lost control of the car when he attempted to turn onto Zions Hill Road from Route 156 and crashed into a tree. He was taken into custody by Maine State Police Trooper Bernard Campbell.

During his first fight with Cook, Richards asked the inmate why he was trying to escape, to which Cook replied, “I’m not going back to jail,” Nichols said.

Nichols said all protocol was followed during the escape, and that he doesn’t expect any changes to be made in the wake of Cook’s escape.

Richards is on sick leave because of the injuries he suffered in his struggles with Cook, and Nichols said when he returns, the department will go over what happened in more detail with him.


As of Wednesday morning, Cook was being held in the Franklin County Jail’s maximum security area, Nichols said.

The charges brought against Cook on Wednesday were seven of 14 charges the three agencies involved in Tuesday’s chase said they were going to bring against him.

Five of Wednesday’s charges were filed by the Wilton Police Department and two from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the Franklin County District Attorney’s Office, Maine State Police did not have its case ready in time for the arraignment. The additional charges may be added against Cook when a Franklin County grand jury meets in May, according to the district attorney.

The charges listed from the state police in Tuesday’s news release include criminal speeding, Class E; eluding, Class C; reckless conduct, Class D; driving to endanger, Class D; and operating after suspension with an extensive driving history. Also listed was a charge of obstructing report of a crime, Class D, from Wilton police; and a charge of strong-armed robbery, Class B, from the Franklin County sheriff.

Robbins said an additional charge of violating probation probably will be brought in the coming days.

Cook’s arraignment was in Rumford because Franklin County and Oxford County courts operate under a unified docket and arraignments are held at whichever court has a judge scheduled for that day.

Cook’s next court appearance had not been scheduled.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate


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