BANGOR — A Gardiner man who robbed Rite Aids in Augusta and Gardiner will spend five years behind bars for those offenses.

Last August, Rudger S. Ellis, pleaded guilty to interference with commerce by robbery and pharmacy robbery for the Feb. 7, 2015, pharmacy robbery on North Belfast Avenue in Augusta and a Feb. 18, 2015, pharmacy robbery on Spring Street in Gardiner.

Ellis, now 23, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge John A. Woodcock Jr.

Five of his family members and friends attended the hearing, watching the proceedings while seated behind Ellis in the courtroom.

He greeted them with a look and raised eyebrows, but all had been warned not to speak to him in court.

At the close of the hearing, Woodcock told them, “I can’t tell you the number of people I sentence who have no family behind them.”

He urged the family, “Continue to support him both while he is in prison and when he gets out.”

During the Augusta robbery, Ellis demanded oxycodone and oxycontin, both opiates, and Ritalin, a central nervous system stimulant, and ordered the pharmacy technician to hurry and threatened to use a gun. He wore a plaid cloth as a mask over his face.

During the Gardiner robbery, Ellis, again masked, demanded the pharmacist give him all the oxycodone 30 mg pills and again told the pharmacist to hurry.

The suspect discarded the blue plaid bandanna outside the Gardiner pharmacy, and it was retrieved by investigators. Later, tests showed DNA on the fabric was a match to that of Ellis.

Donald F. Brown, the attorney representing Ellis, said Ellis was worth saving and wanted to become a personal trainer.

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney F. Todd Lowell, said Ellis had been in trouble since age 14, began injecting cocaine and heroin at 18, and was convicted of various crimes, receiving relatively short sentences.

“He needs to be deterred and others building a resume like his need to be deterred as well,” Lowell told the judge, urging a sentence at the top of the guideline range.

Ellis answered an initial series of questions from the judge, and later he apologized to employees and customers of Rite Aid

“I know this will never be enough and wish there was more that I could do,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

Ellis also apologized to his family, particularly his mother.

“I got so caught up in my addiction and became someone I’m ashamed of,” he said.

The prosecutor said Ellis at one point chased his mother around their home with a .45-caliber pistol, threatening to shoot her.

“Rite Aid on North Belfast Avenue seems to be a favorite target” of people in Augusta, Waterville and Gardiner, Woodcock said. “So we have not only a repeat offender but a repeat victim.”

Woodcock said the guideline sentence for Ellis ranged from 51 to 63 months. Woodcock ordered him to serve 60 months and to pay restitution of $726, to which a codefendant would be required to contribute.

“Mr. Ellis, it’s very clear to me that you need to grow up,” Woodcock said. “It seems to me you’ve been acting like a boy in a man’s body, thinking only of yourself and not thinking of the consequences to others.”

Woodcock imposed a $1,000 fine, saying it would force Ellis to get a job. He also imposed three years of supervised release to follow the prison term.

A Pontiac Sunfire was used as the getaway vehicle in both instances, and the wheelman, Steven C. Chaput, 39, of Chelsea, also pleaded guilty to the two robberies. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release that the two men planned the robberies together.

Chaput’s sentencing hearing is set for 10 a.m. April 19 in the same court.

During Ellis’ hearing, Woodcock said Chaput had a more serious criminal history and faces a sentencing guideline range of 70 to 87 months.

Last May, the same judge sentenced an Augusta man, Dominic J. Pomerleau, then 22, to seven years in prison for a robbery and an attempted robbery at two pharmacies in the city within 20 minutes of one another.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.