March 12, 2010

Federal felon arrested for armed robbery


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Staff Writer

PORTLAND — The man accused of robbing a coffee shop at gunpoint on Tuesday was released from federal prison in October of 2007 after serving 17 years for an armed bank robbery in Salt Lake County, Utah.

Richard Lee Campbell's extensive history of convictions goes back to at least 1973 in Florida. The list includes other felony robberies, assault on a police officer and escape from prison, court records show.

Campbell, 54, continues to be held on $500,000 cash bail at the Cumberland County Jail. He is expected to make his initial court appearance Friday.

Police say he used a handgun to rob the Others Coffee Shop in Monument Square around 1:20 p.m. Tuesday.

Campbell also is a suspect in four other armed robberies, including a carjacking at the Maine Mall. The incidents all took place within a 24-hour period between Monday and Tuesday nights in Greater Portland.

The carjacking investigation included a mix-up in South Portland, where the victim identified -- and police arrested -- the wrong man. He was later released.

On Wednesday, Portland Sgt. Gary Thorpe said detectives in his city, South Portland and Westbrook are examining evidence and witness statements in all the cases.

''We are looking into the possibility that these crimes are connected,'' Thorpe said.

He said detectives also are discussing the case with federal probation officers. Campbell is still on supervised release for the Utah bank robbery in 1990. Depending on the outcome of the robbery investigations, Campbell could face additional federal charges for violating the conditions of his probation.

At the time of his arrest Tuesday, Campbell already was facing that possibility in connection with a separate criminal case.

He was charged in October with assaulting his former girlfriend at her Portland apartment. Campbell pleaded not guilty and the case was scheduled for a March 16 trial date at Superior Court in Portland. Campbell's lawyer and the state prosecutor are due in court next week for a status conference.

Including the assault charge, Campbell has been in trouble with Portland police three times since he got out of federal prison in Allenwood, Pa., in 2007.

After his release, Campbell moved into Pharos House on Grant Street, a halfway house for federal inmates who are making the transition to life outside prison. Campbell apparently lived there for a few months, until his formal release from custody on Dec. 5, 2007. He has since lived in apartments in Portland.

In court records, Campbell reported that his last job was with a building maintenance and cleaning company.

On July 6, 2008, Campbell was arrested for shoplifting Visine at a Hannaford supermarket in Portland. He pleaded guilty and paid a $250 fine for the misdemeanor theft charge.

The next run-in with police came on Oct. 3, 2008, when his former girlfriend reported an assault. The victim, who said she had dated Campbell off and on for about a year, said he became enraged about money. According to police reports, the victim said Campbell bit her cheek during an argument and then smashed a glass coffee table with a frying pan as he left.

The victim was initially apprehensive about going to court, police said, but within a few days of the incident, she decided to seek formal charges.

John Zink, a Freeport lawyer who represents Campbell on the domestic assault, said he heard about the armed robbery charge on Wednesday. Zink has not spoken with Campbell about the charge. The attorney plans on attending the initial court appearance on Friday, and he is prepared to defend Campbell if the court asks him to do so.

''If I am appointed to it, I don't know if they will combine the cases or not,'' Zink said.

A third incident involving Campbell and Portland police happened just within the past month, said Capt. Vern Malloch. Police issued Campbell a court summons on a misdemeanor theft charge. He is accused of stealing checks and cash from a Maine Medical Center office where he had been working at night.

Investigators were initially concerned that Campbell might have stolen confidential patient information, but they do not believe that happened, Malloch said. Paperwork on that case has not been submitted by police to the district attorney's office for review, said Tamara Getchell, a spokeswoman for that office.

It is not clear what impact the armed robbery charge might have on Campbell's federal probation status. According to police reports, his probation officer is Laura Tait at the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Office in Portland. Karen Moody, chief probation officer there, said U.S. District Court rules prohibit her from discussing the case.

James Furner, deputy chief of the U.S. Probation Office for the District of Utah, said Campbell's sentence for the 1990 bank robbery called for five years of supervised probation to follow his release from prison in 2007.

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

tmaxwell@pressherald.comCampbell could face additional federal charges for violating the conditions of his probation.

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