A New Hampshire woman who allegedly wielded a pellet gun as she and two men robbed a Portland bank last month has been arrested in her home state on a federal warrant issued by authorities in Maine.

Crystal Dufault, 33, of Manchester, N.H., was brought to Maine after her arrest Wednesday and appeared in U.S. District Court in Portland on Thursday.

Dufault pleaded not guilty to bank robbery and conspiracy to commit bank robbery, and Magistrate Judge John Rich III ordered her held pending a detention hearing Oct. 20.

Dufault wore a mask and carried a gun as she and one of the men, Joseph Richards, entered the University Credit Union at 391 Forest Ave. on Sept. 4, according to the indictment against them.

Richards, 46, also of Manchester, N.H., leapt over the teller counter, filled a bag with $12,308 cash, and the pair fled to a waiting Jeep driven by 64-year-old Neil West Sr. of Portland, the five-page indictment alleges.

Richards and West were arrested on Sept. 12 after they robbed a bank in Lewiston at gunpoint, according to police. Richards entered the TD Bank branch at 790 Lisbon St. and took $8,690 cash, according to court documents filed by FBI Agent Christopher Peavey.

“The bank was robbed by a man wearing a yellow hooded sweatshirt and a mask. Witnesses saw the man carrying a black handgun, which he pointed at bank employees when he entered the bank,” Peavey wrote in an affidavit supporting criminal charges against Richards and West.

West was the getaway driver again in the Sept. 12 heist, that time using a Chrysler Town and Country minivan, Peavey wrote. Federal authorities have not accused Dufault in the Lewiston robbery.

The men were arrested after a high-speed chase that started on Interstate 95 near Scarborough and ended in Saco, when they abandoned the vehicle and tried to flee on foot, according to the affidavit. Richards and West first appeared in court on Sept. 14 and were ordered held.

All three were indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 8. Richards and West each face two counts of bank robbery and two counts of conspiracy.

Dufault, Richards and West face up to 25 years in prison for each bank robbery charge and up to five years in prison on each conspiracy charge if they are convicted. It wasn’t clear when West and Richards were due back in court.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

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