Alleged credit union robber has criminal past, held without bail after pleading not guilty in Bennington court
BENNINGTON — The man accused of robbing the Heritage Family Credit Union on Pleasant Street Friday has a history of theft-related crimes.
Royal J. Palin, 35, of Burlington, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to a felony count of larceny from a person. He was ordered held without bail by Judge David Howard and sent to the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland.
Because he has at least three previous felony convictions, the state has charged him as a "habitual offender," meaning if he is convicted of a new felony the state could argue for him to serve up to life in prison.
According to police, his list of past felonies include: Four burglaries, grand larceny, escape, aiding in the commission of a felony, and two counts of possession of stolen property.
He also has multiple misdemeanor convictions and six instances of failing to appear for court hearings.
When he was arrested Friday, three and a half hours after allegedly robbing the credit union, police learned that he had two active warrants for his arrest. One was out of Addison County for a probation violation on a burglary conviction, the other was for failing to show up at a jury draw hearing on a pending retail theft charge in Chittenden County.
Combined, the bail for the warrants was $5,000.
According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Detective Larry Cole, at 12:51 p.m. on Friday, police received a call from the manager of the Heritage Family Credit Union at 206 Pleasant Street saying it had just been robbed.
The robber presented the manager with a note that read, "Lissing (sic) to police scanner give me the cash no one gets hurt."
The manager had a difficult time making sense of the note given the quality of the handwriting, but the robber said it out loud for her. She gave him money which he grabbed, saying, "That's enough," then fled.
Police would later commend the manager and the credit union employees for keeping calm and quickly supplying them with images of the robber taken from the surveillance cameras.
Police learned that the robber fled the bank premises on a bicycle, heading east down Pleasant Street, dropping a significant portion of the stolen money as he went.
Residents of Pleasant Street took the money that was dropped. One person handed over $1,510, another had $70. Police ultimately cited three people with criminal charges for taking the dropped money. Only $365 was found at the nearby apartment in which Palin was found to have been hiding, leaving $485 unaccounted for.
Witnesses who had seen the bank surveillance photos posted on Facebook directed police to an apartment building on the corner of Pleasant Street and Main Street where they had seen the suspected robber enter after getting off a bicycle.
It was Palin who came to the door of the apartment that police meant to search. It was clear he had recently shaved, poorly, said police, who found cash and clothes inside the apartment that matched what the robber was wearing.
"Just take me to the (expletive) PD and let's get this over," Palin reportedly told police when they arrested him. He declined to give any further statements.
— Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 Ext. 115
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