AUGUSTA — A city man will spend at least four years in prison for robbing three convenience stores within six days — including two that occurred 20 minutes apart — and for stealing shoes and a bottle of liquor.

Daniel Joseph Couto Jr., 25, was sentenced Monday to an initial four years in prison with an additional six years suspended, plus a consecutive one-year term in prison for escape when he failed to report to Maine Pretrial Services while he was on home confinement in early December 2015.

He also will spend three years on probation and was ordered to pay $320 restitution.

Justice Donald Marden imposed the sentence, which was negotiated between the prosecutor and Couto’s attorney, Lisa Whittier. Marden told Couto, “You’re 25 years old and you’ve got quite a record.”

Couto said he started having drug problems three years ago and that he had been working up until six months ago.

“I hope that this time having to serve, I hope it teaches me a lesson, and I hope to be a better person when I get out,” Couto said.


Whittier said Couto plans to obtain a general educational development certificate while behind bars. Couto said he completed 11th grade.

Each time Couto stood in court, a deputy stood up as well, keeping a close watch on him.

Assistant District Attorney Kate Marshall said the first robbery occurred about 1:30 a.m. Dec. 7, 2015, at the Big Apple on Stone Street in Augusta. She said a man just under 6 feet tall wearing a black, hooded sweatshirt with his face covered came into the store and handed the clerk a note, which stated, “Put all the money in a bag, I have a gun, be fast and quick.”

She said the image on surveillance video showed the man wearing a distinctive pair of shoes that a clerk had noticed on a customer earlier in the day who had been suspected of shoplifting.

Marshall said the second robbery occurred Dec. 13, 2015, at the Big Apple on Civic Center Drive in Augusta when a man wearing a ski mask over his face came into that store and handed the clerk a note demanding money and threatening to use a firearm. The clerk told the robber she had no money since she had just made a deposit.

About 20 minutes later, the Circle K store on Eastern Avenue in Augusta was robbed by a suspect who left with $61.90 and a carton of Old Gold cigarettes and got into a dark-colored minivan parked near the store.


That vehicle was later stopped by police on Chapel Street in Augusta, and Couto was found hiding in the back. He had a pack of Old Gold cigarettes on him and was wearing the same jacket as the suspect seen on the surveillance videos.

Marshall said the woman driving the vehicle said she had driven Couto to a series of convenience stores in the city, but did not know he was robbing them. One of the women had two packs of Old Gold cigarettes in her purse, Marshall said.

Marshall said the escape charge was brought after Couto failed to report weekly to a supervisor with the home confinement program. She said he had last reported Nov. 30, 2015.

The thefts occurred Oct. 26, 2015, at Marden’s in Waterville, in which Couto was seen on video shoplifting sneakers, among other items, and on Nov. 3, 2015, at Damon’s Beverage Barn in Augusta, when he was seen on surveillance video taking a bottle of liquor from a shelf and concealing it in the front of his pants, Marshall said.

Couto had five prior theft convictions as well as other offenses on his criminal record.

A charge of operating while license suspended or revoked was dismissed in exchange for the plea.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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