Man Pleads Guilty In Robbery Attempt
North Haverhill — A 22-year-old man pleaded guilty on Monday to being an accomplice in an attempted robbery in West Lebanon that authorities say was a fake-bomb scheme to obtain prescription medication.
Brian M. Lewis struggled to keep his composure in Grafton Superior Court on Monday as he was sentenced to one to five years in the New Hampshire State Prison in Concord. Lewis’ father, 6-month-old daughter and her mother watched as Lewis pleaded guilty to two felony charges, including conspiracy to commit an armed robbery and being an accomplice.
The 6-foot-7-inch Lewis, who has short, curly brown hair and a chin strap beard, trembled visibly during the hearing.
When the judge asked him if he understood the arrangements of his plea agreement, he said, “Yes, sir,” in a quivering voice.
Before the sentencing began, Lewis hugged his father and embraced and kissed the mother of his child. He was just starting to lean in to his daughter’s car seat when Judge Timothy Vaughan entered the court. Lewis hurriedly walked to take his place next to his attorney.
He stood for most of the hearing with his hands in his pockets, except when he was wiping his eyes.
Just before 5 a.m. on Feb. 13, Stanley P. Sousa walked up to the pharmacy window at the Walgreens at Route 12A and Airport Road in West Lebanon. Sousa handed the pharmacist, Donald Rastani, a note that demanded prescription drugs and indicated that Sousa had a “bomb” strapped to his chest, according to police and court documents. Rastani refused to give Sousa medication, told him to leave and began to call 911.
The bomb was fake, and Sousa quickly gave up on his ruse and fled the store. According to court documents, police were familiar with Sousa and knew that he was living at Lewis’ apartment. When police responded to that address, they found Lewis and Debra Pitts, both of who provided police with written statements claiming that they went with Sousa to the pharmacy because they thought he needed to fill a prescription.
In Grafton Superior Court on Monday, Assistant County Attorney Mary Bleier said that in fact, Lewis assisted Sousa in creating the fake bomb out of a metal broom, wires and a video game console. Bleier said there’s also evidence that Lewis used his car to drive Sousa to Windsor afterward as part of the getaway.
Lewis’ attorney, Charlie Buttrey, said on Monday that his client was in the car with Sousa, but he was not driving.
Bleier recommended to Vaughan that Lewis receive a two-to-four-year sentence, citing two previous misdemeanor drug convictions, as well as a 2011 simple assault in Vermont and a 2012 misdemeanor theft in New Hampshire.
Buttrey opposed Bleier’s recommendation.
“He was an active player and he doesn’t deny that,” said Buttrey. “I don’t think I can argue with a straight face that he shouldn’t go to prison, but I would suggest a one-to-five-year sentence.”
Lewis, whose address is listed as White River Junction in court documents, told Vaughan that he’s in drug counseling and is receiving treatment for mental health issues. Buttrey told the court that Lewis has a number of psychiatric issues, including bipolar anxiety disorder.
When Vaughan asked Lewis if he had anything he wanted to say, Lewis stood with his hands in his pockets and said, “It was a very stupid thing to do, and I am very sorry for what I did.”
When Vaughan asked Lewis what his drug of choice was, Lewis said suboxone, adding that at the time of the crime he had been doing drugs for about six months.
Bleier said that Lewis, Pitts and Sousa all had addiction issues.
Sousa, whose current address is listed on court documents as White River Junction, pleaded guilty in August to attempted robbery and conspiracy to commit an armed robbery. He was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison and is eligible for parole in three years.
Earlier this month, Pitts pleaded guilty to being an accomplice to an armed robbery. She was sentenced to two to four years, all suspended, meaning she doesn’t have to serve the time, but if she commits another crime within the next five years, she could face that sentence. But Pitts was still sentenced to six months in prison because her new conviction triggered a prior 2012 conviction in which she provided suboxone to an inmate at the Grafton County House of Corrections.
Pitts’ current address is at Valley Vista in Bradford , Vt., where she is getting treatment for drug addiction, according to court documents.
Ultimately on Monday, Vaughan sided with the defense and sentenced Lewis to one to five years in prison. Lewis has earned 80 days of pretrial confinement, meaning he could be released on parole next summer. At this point, Lewis’ face turned red and he wiped his eyes with a Kleenex.
“Mr. Lewis, you are going to prison, the question is how much time,” Vaughan said, later adding, “This one falls into the dumber categories. You are probably aware that you were being pretty stupid.”
Lewis was also sentenced to three and a half to seven years in prison for the second charge, all suspended, meaning that if he commits a crime in the next 10 years, he could be forced to serve the sentence.
“I’m not doing that for any sympathy for you,” Vaughan said. “I think you deserve to get whacked. I don’t want you to think that knocking you down to a year is condoning this conduct.”
“No, sir,” Lewis said.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Vaughan added.
At the end of the hearing, Lewis was placed in handcuffs. Before he was led away, he asked, “Can I go see my daughter real quick?” But he was led away without another goodbye.
Sarah Brubeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3223.