BRATTLEBORO >> A man originally charged by the state with robbing banks in Brattleboro and Ludlow will see the state charges dropped. Instead, the federal government will be prosecuting the case, according to Eric Miller, U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont.
"Any time there is a robbery of a federally insured bank, it's a violation of federal and state law," said Miller. "We have the jurisdiction to prosecute virtually any bank robbery in the state. We try to make smart resource allocation decisions in close cooperation with state attorneys who have primary responsibility for prosecutions in the state."
On Dec. 14, 2015, officers with the Brattleboro Police Department responded to People's United Bank after receiving a 911 call reporting a robbery in which the suspect had left a suspicious package that appeared to be a bomb. After the robber fled with $3,791, the bank was evacuated and members of the Vermont State Police Bomb Squad determined it wasn't an explosive device.
Following an investigation, the suspect, who was dressed like a woman, was identified as Matthew Martin, 31, of Weathersfield.
Prior to being arrested for the Brattleboro robbery, Martin robbed the Heritage Credit Union in Ludlow on Dec. 21. Security camera footage led to Martin's arrest. During that robbery, Martin displayed a black handgun and left with an undisclosed amount of money.
Martin is also a suspect in the robberies of two banks in Springfield and banks in Charlestown and Loudon, N.H. He is also wanted in Rhode Island. According to published reports, Martin's alleged drug habits fueled his crimes.
Because of the seriousness of the charges filed against Martin, said Miller, "Federal charges are warranted and potentially greater federal sentences are appropriate. In this case, in light of the extensiveness of his criminal history and he being a suspect in multiple bank robberies, we believe he is the perfect candidate for federal prosecution."
Miller said the prosecution would not have been possible without the assistance of municipal and state investigators in Vermont and New Hampshire, as well as the state's attorney's offices in Windham County and Windsor County.
"The burden of investigating and prosecuting most of these types of cases often falls on our state and local partners. They did a terrific job."
While Miller did not confirm or deny whether Martin's crimes were undertaken to pay for his drug habit, Miller did say "So much of the property crimes we see in Vermont are linked directly or indirectly to the heroin trade."
Martin was being held in Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, but on June 14, he was transferred to federal custody.
He was originally charged by the state with assault and robbery, larceny from person and putting a hoax explosive device in a building. All three counts each carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. In federal court, he has now been charged with one count of robbing a bank and one count of robbing a credit union. Other charges are pending.
Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160.