Wednesday, March 12, 2014
A South Portland man who used a police officer’s stolen gun to rob a bank and convenience store last year was sentenced Monday to more than 13 years in federal prison.
South Portland police captured Joseph Morrill, 24, in April after he dropped his cellphone while making a getaway on a bicycle from the robbery of a TD Bank.
Prosecutors say that on Sept. 21, 2012, a .40-caliber Glock pistol and badge belonging to a Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office detective were stolen from the officer’s private vehicle in South Portland.
Morrill used the gun on April 17 to rob the Cumberland Farms store on Cottage Road in South Portland of $182, and on April 22 to rob the TD Bank branch on Market Street in South Portland of $5,612, according to court records.
Morrill pleaded guilty in August in U.S. District Court in Portland to charges of bank robbery, interference with commerce by robbery, use of a firearm during a crime of violence and possession of a stolen firearm.
Police, notified by an alarm, responded to the bank shortly after the robbery with a dog trained to track people. The dog followed the robber’s track to a clump of bushes behind a nearby building on Ocean Street, according to the complaint filed in federal court.
There, police found cigarette butts, tire tracks from a bicycle and a cellphone. The cellphone was registered to Morrill and police were able to compare images on the phone with mug shots from the Cumberland County Jail.
Soon after the robbery, the phone started ringing. Police surmised it was Morrill trying to locate his lost phone, the complaint said.
Police also were able to get texts that had been sent and received on the phone making reference to the gun, the robbery and to drugs, police said in the complaint.
Police located Morrill at a house at 231 Broadway and although he denied committing the robbery, they found dark clothing and sneakers similar to those the robber was seen wearing on security video. As Morrill was being interviewed, investigators noticed he was wearing a bracelet that matched one worn by the bank robber.
Police charged Morrill on June 5 and found the gun on June 14 after executing a search warrant at 865 Broadway.
U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby also sentenced Morrill to five years of supervised release following completion of his prison term, which totals 161 months. He ordered Morrill to pay $5,795 in restitution.
Scott Dolan can be reached at 791-6304 or at: