Alleged bank robber in court again

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BURLINGTON >> A man accused of robbing a Bennington credit union in the spring now faces a federal indictment that he also robbed two banks late last year — one in Wilmington and another in South Burlington.

Royal J. Palin, 36, was arraigned by a federal judge in Burlington on Wednesday on three counts of bank robbery, according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont. Each charge carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison.

The Oct. 12 indictment by a federal grand jury accuses Palin of robbing two banks within a week of each other last December — a Merchants Bank in South Burlington and a People's United Bank in Wilmington — as well as the Heritage Family Credit Union in Bennington in March.

Vermont U.S. Attorney Eric S. Miller, in a motion for pre-trial detention, stated Palin has a "substantial" criminal record with prior convictions and multiple failures to appear for court dates.

"As such, there are no conditions the court could set to reasonably assure the safety of the community," Miller wrote.

Prior to the federal indictment, Palin had not been charged or arraigned in connection to the other two robberies. After being arrested by Bennington police in March, he pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court Criminal Division to a felony count of larceny from a person. He was ordered held without bail at the Marble Valley Correctional Facility in Rutland. The state charged him as a "habitual offender" because he had at least three previous felony convictions in Vermont.

All three robberies took place during the daytime. In all three, the suspect did not show a weapon and no one was injured.

South Burlington police said in a press release that at about 9:20 p.m. on Dec. 7, 2015, a man entered the bank on Shelburne Road, approached the teller and displayed a note demanding cash. The suspect, described as a white male about five-foot-nine to five-foot-ten in height, fled on a mountain bike with an undisclosed amount of cash.

On Dec. 14, 2015, Wilmington police said in a press release a man entered the People's United Bank on East Main Street at about 9:17 a.m. and handed a teller a note demanding money. The man, described as a white male in his late 20s with a moustache, left on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Bennington police arrested Palin on March 25, about three and a half hours after the Heritage Family Credit Union was robbed.

A man entered the credit union on Pleasant Street just before 12:50 p.m. and gave the teller a note demanding money, Bennington police said in an affidavit. The suspect stuffed cash into his pockets and fled the credit union on a bicycle, dropping hundreds of dollars as he rode down Pleasant Street.

Police spoke to witnesses and reviewed surveillance footage, and ultimately located Palin in an apartment near the corner of Pleasant and Main Streets. When Palin answered the door, it was clear he had recently shaved, said police, who found cash and clothes inside the apartment that matched what the robber was wearing.

According to a police affidavit, $2,480 was taken during the credit union robbery. Nearly all of it was later recovered.

Court documents show Palin's criminal history in Vermont includes nine felony convictions, including four burglaries and an escape; multiple misdemeanour convictions; and six instances of failing to appear for court hearings.

Palin is represented by the office of the Federal Public Defender.

Contact Ed Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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