March 29, 2020

Robbery suspect to remain in jail on federal charges Money taken from bank in Bangor

BANGOR – The man charged with robbing a bank at gunpoint near the Bangor Mall on Wednesday afternoon remained at the Penobscot County Jail Thursday night on federal charges.

Niall G. Clarke, 26, of Portland appeared briefly Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Bangor. A detention hearing to determine whether he will be released on bail is scheduled to held Tuesday, Oct. 10.

Court documents included more details about the robbery than were available Wednesday, but FBI agents did not release the amount of money Clarke allegedly took from the Bank of America branch on Bangor Mall Boulevard.

Dressed in blue jail scrubs, Clarke appeared nervous as U.S. District Judge John Woodcock informed him of the charges against him – armed bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during the commission of a federal crime of violence.

If convicted, he faces a maximum of 25 years in federal prison on the first charge and a mandatory consecutive seven-year sentence on the second. Each charge carries a potential fine of up to $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Lowell, who is prosecuting the case, told the judge Thursday that Clarke might be a citizen of Ireland.

The defendant did not have a distinct Irish accent when he answered Woodcock’s questions. If Clarke is not a U.S. citizen, he also could face deportation after his release from prison.

Information about whether Clarke has a criminal record, what he did in Portland and whether he came to Bangor intending to rob the bank were not available late Thursday.

A man believed to be Clarke entered the bank at 1:26 p.m. Thursday pulling a knit ski mask over his face, according to court documents. Witnesses told police that the masked gunman was wearing a dark shirt and camouflage pants.

“As he approached the bank tellers,” James Herbert, a special agent with the FBI in Bangor, wrote in the complaint filed Thursday in federal court, “he removed a handgun from [a] black mesh bag. He pointed the handgun at a teller and handed the black mesh bag to her. He ordered her to fill the bag with money.

“He pointed the gun in the direction of a bank manager who had picked up a phone and ordered the manager to put the phone down,” Herbert continued. “He ordered the manager, the other tellers, and a customer to raise their hands. The teller who received the bag from the man filled the bag with United States currency. She then handed the bag to the masked man and the man backed out of the bank, keeping the gun pointed at the bank employees and the customer.”

The bank employee who called 911 was able to give Bangor police a description of the getaway car, a 1997 green Chevy Lumina, and a license plate number.

About five minutes after a police dispatcher broadcast the information, Bangor police Sgt. Paul Kenison spotted the vehicle traveling north on Stillwater Avenue away from the Bangor Mall area.

Kenison, was traveling in an unmarked car in the opposite direction on Stillwater Avenue about three miles from the bank.

He followed the vehicle as it turned onto the Kelly Road in Orono and onto the southbound lanes of Interstate 95. Maine State Police along with Bangor police stopped Clarke less than half a mile south of the Kelly Road.

In the car, police reported finding a black mesh bag, which matched the teller’s description of the bag the robber demanded be filled with money, and a photo identification for Niall G. Clarke.

After agents read Clarke a Miranda warning, he refused to answer, according to court documents but did ask, “What am I looking at, 20 years?”

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