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BANGOR – The Massachusetts man who asked for Valentine’s Day advice in a Newport drugstore – and then pulled a knife on the clerk – will spend the next four years in prison.
Kevin Armstrong, 22, of Somerville, Mass., was sentenced Thursday in Penobscot County Superior Court to four years in prison for robbery. He faced up to 30 years in prison.
“This is an extremely serious crime,” Superior Court Justice Andrew Mead said in imposing the sentence. “This is a Class A crime and, in Maine, Class A is the big time. Armed robbery is always dealt with severely by the courts.”
Armstrong pleaded guilty this summer to armed robbery of the Rite Aid in Newport on Feb. 12. He admitted that after he asked a female clerk for suggestions about a Valentine’s Day gift for his girlfriend and then ordered her to open the register.
When she refused, Armstrong pulled an 8-inch knife on her, according to police.
She pressed a button to page the manager and as he walked to the front of the store, Armstrong fled without flowers, cards, candy or cash. When police arrived, he was standing outside the gas station next door to the drugstore with the knife in a pocket of his pants.
Armstrong told police that he was in Maine visiting an uncle in Newport.
Dressed in bluejeans and a gray, hooded sweat shirt with “South Boston” printed on the front in red letters, he apologized Thursday for the robbery.
“My life took the worst turn possible on Feb. 12,” the defendant, looking far younger than his years, told the judge. “I’m thankful no one was hurt. I never meant for any of this to happen.”
Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, urged Mead to sentence Armstrong to four years in prison without any of that time suspended or on probation. He said that Armstrong had violated his probation on previous convictions in Massachusetts and “walked away” from a drug court program in that state.
“There’s a fairly significant victim impact here,” Roberts said. “The drugstore clerk, who was 17 at the time of the robbery, didn’t want to be here because she’s still very frightened of seeing the defendant.”
Defense attorney Matthew Erickson of Bangor urged the judge to sentence Armstrong to four years in prison and suspend all but one of it. Erickson also asked that the defendant be sent to a residential drug treatment program in New Hampshire as part of his probation.
“This was not part of a sophisticated plan in any sense of the word,” Erickson said in describing the robbery. “When the clerk became upset, he backed off. That’s not the action of a hardened criminal, I don’t think.”