AUGUSTA — A Woonsocket, Rhode Island, man made an initial appearance in front of a judge Monday in connection with the robbery early Friday morning of the Big Apple convenience store on Civic Center Drive in Augusta.

Brian J. Coutu, 28, who also has an address in Waterville, Maine, is accused of taking cash from the register by force.

The robbery charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Coutu was identified as the suspect after police reviewed surveillance videos, and he told police who arrested him that he had spent the night drinking and playing beer pong.

An affidavit filed by Augusta police, said the robber approached the clerk at about 4:20 a.m. Friday, asking for the price of a bag of Doritos and then indicated he wanted to buy them. When the clerk opened the cash register to take the money, the man reaches over the counter and began taking money from the register, at one point dropping some behind the counter on the floor and telling the clerk to pick it up and give it to him.

The affidavit indicates there were no threats made and no weapons displayed.

Police believed that Coutu was in a home nearby, and got permission from the homeowner to search, finding Coutu in a locked, second-floor bathroom.

They also located a green sweatshirt which the suspect was wearing in the surveillance video in a nearby cemetery on Townsend Road.

Coutu was seen via video from the jail by a judge at the Capital Judicial Center. Justice Robert Mullen set Coutu’s bail at $10,000 cash or $5,000 with a Maine Pretrial Services contract. Conditions of bail prohibit Coutu from contact with the clerk or the owner of the home where Coutu was arrested.

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Kristin Murray-James, requested bail be set at $10,000, saying that Coutu had twice been extradited back to Rhode Island to face charges.

Records available on line show an outstanding warrant from Rhode Island for Coutu’s arrest on domestic violence charges.

Attorney Doug Jennings, lawyer of the day, argued for an unsecured bail with a Maine Pretrial Services contract.

“There are some identification issues in this case, so I think he’d be well-served by pursuing his rights in this matter,” Jennings said. The affidavit indicated that the clerk who had been at the register was not “100 percent sure” it was Coutu, but thought it was likely the correct person.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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