Vt. Woman Pleads Guilty
North Haverhill — A 28-year-old Upper Valley woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony count of being an accomplice to an armed robbery involving a fake bomb at a West Lebanon drug store.
Debra Pitts was led away in handcuffs to begin serving a six-month prison sentence related to a prior conviction.
Pitts, who has family in Windsor, appeared composed during the plea and sentencing hearing in Grafton County Superior Court, answering questions from Judge Timothy Vaughan in short sentences, though she fought back tears as she kissed a male companion goodbye before the hearing began.
Vaughan sentenced Pitts to two to four years in prison, all suspended, for her role as an accomplice in the February 2013 attempted robbery at the Walgreens Pharmacy on Route 12A. But the conviction triggered an underlying but deferred six-month prison term following her 2012 conviction for giving suboxone, a controlled drug, to a weekend inmate at the Grafton County House of Corrections.
According to police accounts of the Walgreens incident, Pitts, who has undergone treatment for drug addiction at Valley Vista in Bradford, acted as an accomplice to the attempted robbery and wrote a note that was used by Stanley P. Sousa.
Sousa entered the store and handed the pharmacist the note, warning that he had a bomb strapped to his chest that would detonate if his demands were not met, police said.
The device was made of metal cylinders and wiring with a cell phone timer that was counting down to zero. Donald Rastani, the pharmacist on duty at around 4:45 a.m. when the attempted robbery occurred, refused to hand over any prescription medication and told Sousa to leave. Sousa then fled, according to police accounts.
Sousa pleaded guilty in August to attempted armed robbery and was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison, according to Grafton County Attorney Lara Saffo. He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit armed robbery and is eligible for parole in three years.
Another alleged accomplice in the Walgreens incident, Brian Lewis, of West Lebanon, is still facing charges stemming from the case.
Simon Mayo, Pitts’ public defender, declined to comment following Wednesday’s hearing.
Ben Conarck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3213.