Eighteen Maine Law Enforcement Officers Sworn in as Federal Deputies to Assist with Pharmacy Robberies and Prescription Drug Abuse
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 11, 2013|
PORTLAND, ME—This afternoon, 18 Maine law enforcement officers were sworn in by United States Marshal Noel March as deputy federal agents to assist in the investigation of pharmacy robberies and prescription drug abuse. This is part of a continuing effort to deal with increased pharmacy crimes and prescription abuse in Maine.
In 2009, there were eight pharmacy robberies and burglaries in Maine. In 2010, there were 21. A request was made for federal authorities to assist. A plan was devised, and the level of pharmacy crimes leveled off in 2011 at 24. However, for 2012, there were a total of 58 pharmacy incidents. U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty said, “We are very fortunate that there have been no serious injuries reported in any of the cases, even though there have been multiple incidents where guns and dangerous weapons have been used or displayed.”
In late 2012, the U.S. Attorney requested federal assistance from the FBI because of the similarity to bank robberies and they are violent crimes under the federal Hobbs Act. The FBI has responded enthusiastically.
This year there have been six robberies to date. Delahanty said, “This is a drastic reduction from 24 at this time last year, but with a substantial risk of injury, it is still too many. We cannot provide an authenticated reason for this decline, but it is encouraging, except for the fact that it may be due to an increased supply and the greater availability of heroin and prescription drugs on the street.”
With the cooperation of state, county, and local law enforcement, the U.S. Attorney is making stickers and signs available to each pharmacy in the state to alert the public and would-be robbers and thieves that crimes committed on pharmacy property will be investigated and prosecuted by local, county, and state law enforcement, along with federal law enforcement and the Department of Justice.
Nine arrests have been made in all six pharmacy robberies this year. Law enforcement at all levels have taken the investigations further by pursuing associates of the person who committed the robbery, including friends who help plan the venture, friends who scout out the store, and those who drive get-away vehicles.
Cooperation and partnerships of law enforcement agencies strengthen investigations. Three recent cases are notable:
In March, the state police assisted the Yarmouth Police apprehend Dylan Libby after he robbed the Yarmouth Rite Aid, rammed a police cruiser, and then crashed his car on I-295 after a chase with the State Police.
In June, Nicholas and Devin Alexander were caught and charged federally after robbing Walgreens in Bath. They were caught the next day after an intensive investigation by the Bath Police Department, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, MDEA, and FBI.
In August 2011, Nicholas Skobie robbed the Rite Aid in Millinocket. He threatened the pharmacist with a firearm. When he got the pills and money, he fled the pharmacy after being in there for less than four minutes but was caught a half-hour later due to the immediate response and cooperation of seven law enforcement agencies; including Millinocket and East Millinocket Police Departments, Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office, Maine State Police, Maine Warden Service, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and ATF.
FBI Agents Todd DiFede and Tom MacDonald have been designated as points of contact in Maine. They and other FBI and federal agents of DEA and ATF and local, county, and state counterparts will work together on investigations into pharmacy incidents and prescription drug abuse.
Agents DiFede and MacDonald have recruited 18 officers from 13 state, county, and municipal departments. They have received training and will be called upon as needed to assist throughout the state. Considering the geography of Maine and the scarce law enforcement resources, especially in rural areas, this will be of great assistance.
U.S. Attorney Delahanty said, “We greatly appreciate the cooperation of the chiefs, sheriffs, and supervisors of these officers who have consented to participate in this effort. It is important to note that there have been multiple pharmacy robberies or burglaries in almost all of the municipalities and counties from which each of these officers come.”
The officers who are participating and being sworn in are:
- Lt. Chris Burbank, South Berwick PD
- Det. Mark Clifford, York PD
- Det. Chad Allen, Sanford PD
- Det. Sarah Roberts, Sanford PD
- Det. Sgt. Matt Jones, Sanford PD
- Det. David Jamieson, Kennebunk PD
- Tpr Jeremy Forbes, Maine State Police—Troop A
- Det. Lamar Quarles, Biddeford PD
- Det. Robert Perkins, Biddeford PD
- Det. Shawn Cloutier, Biddeford PD
- Det. Corey Huntress, Saco PD
- Det. Jason Cote, Augusta PD
- Det. Chris Blodgett, Augusta PD
- Det. Frank Hatch, Kennebec County SO (previously deputized due to military service)
- Det. Sgt. David Beauregard, Bath PD
- Det. Sgt. Christopher Young, Rockland PD
- Det. Robert McFetridge, Lincoln County SO
- Det. Kristin Calaman, Houlton PD