AUGUSTA — A Vassalboro man who robbed an Augusta pharmacy in 2019, demanding prescription drugs, was sentenced to jail on Friday.

Daniel Cooley

A tearful Daniel Cooley, speaking by video from jail, apologized for the crime. Cooley said he’s battled substance abuse all his adult life, and vowed to kick his drug habit, after friends and family members described him as a creative, caring and giving person who was changed for the worse by his drug abuse.

“I especially want to apologize to the clerk at the counter at CVS that night. I am embarrassed at the way I made someone feel,” Cooley said by video feed, as some of his friends and family looked on from a courtroom at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. “I realize the path I was on only ends one of two ways — in prison or in the ground.”

Cooley, 33, was sentenced Friday by Justice Michaela Murphy to four years imprisonment, but with all but nine months of that suspended, time he has already served in jail since he was arrested, and three years of probation.

Murphy said Cooley must continue with a drug treatment program, run by Enso Recovery. If a bed is available in a sober house, he must live there until his probation officer tells him he may leave. Cooley confirmed that he planned to remain in the Enso program.

Family members including his dad, Dave Cooley, described Daniel Cooley as a creative and kind person who was quick to help others.

Cooley’s attorney, John Baldacci Jr., gave Murphy a letter, speaking about Cooley’s virtues, from a pastor who oversaw volunteer trips to Costa Rica to build facilities for people in need, in which Cooley volunteered his time.

Childhood friend Andrew Melrose, who Cooley convinced to go with him on at least one of those volunteer building trips, said substance abuse had a large negative impact on Cooley, but said he was not somebody who should be given up on.

Cooley was charged with robbery and stealing drugs. He was arrested in December 2019 after police searched his Vassalboro home. On Nov. 20, 2019, he entered the CVS pharmacy at 165 Capitol St. and demanded prescription medications. Police said he did not brandish or threaten to use a weapon.

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