A federal appeal has been denied for a Sangerville man who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2015 after pleading guilty to an armed robbery for drugs in 2011 in Bingham.

James Stile, then 58, used a sawed-off shotgun and tied up employees and customers during the 2011 robbery at E.W. Moore and Sons Pharmacy on Main Street in Bingham, an incident that prosecutors described as “one of the most violent pharmacy robberies in Maine.”

The store had been robbed for drugs twice before, once in 2006 and again in 2010.

The denial of Stile’s appeal was handed down Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The First Circuit includes the Districts of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico and Rhode Island.

In the appeal of his sentence imposed in June 2015 at U.S. District Court in Bangor, Stile asserted that the sentencing judge erred both in assessing the substance of the crime and on procedural grounds, according to a transcript of the decision.

Stile said that the U.S. District Court judge applied an enhancement of the crime for sentencing based on Stile’s obstruction of justice and denied Stile’s request for consideration by the court of his acceptance of responsibility by pleading guilty to the crime.

The obstruction claim came after Stile allegedly assaulted a fellow prison inmate to whom Stile reportedly had confessed to the robbery in confidence, according to court documents. The assault is alleged to have happened to intimidate the inmate from testifying against him. Stile’s camp said the assault happened after unwanted sexual advances on the part of the other inmate, but the court disagreed.

The government also claimed that Stile had committed perjury during a suppression hearing in December 2012.

In addition, Stile said that in sentencing him to 10 years in prison, the court failed to acknowledge his drug addiction and the effect that addiction had on his committing the crime in the first place. Again the appellate disagreed.

According to the appeals document, in the early evening of Sept. 12, 2011, Stile entered the E.W. Moore & Son Pharmacy in Bingham. He wore a baseball cap, sunglasses, a dust mask and purple rubber gloves. As he entered the store, he pulled a sawed-off shotgun from his pants.

He walked to the pharmacy counter at the back of the store and ordered three employees to lie on their stomachs. When a customer walked in, Stile forced him behind the pharmacy counter with the employees. Stile handed the owner of the pharmacy a black duffel bag and ordered him to fill it with drugs. Stile tied the hands and feet of the owner, the customer and the employees with zip ties. He then departed the store, taking $12,890 worth of drugs and $417 in cash, according to court documents.

The court chose to focus on the features of the crime that made it “particularly terrifying” to the victims and that demonstrated Stile’s degree of forethought and preparation, the appeals court determined.

The pharmacy owner, Chester Hibbard, was able to free himself and watched Stile leave the scene in a minivan. Police traced the minivan to Stile’s Sangerville residence and executed a search warrant the next day, finding the dust mask, purple gloves and clothes Stile wore during the robbery.

When imposing the sentence, Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. noted the violence and planning involved in the robbery that made it stand out from similar robberies that were happening in Maine around the same time — the court called it “a rash of pharmacy robberies.”

Stile’s prison term is to be followed by five years of supervised release, and he has been ordered to pay $13,306 in restitution, according to a news release at the time from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow


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