CHELSEA — A Barre man with a history of stealing from businesses now is accused of robbing a bank in Williamstown.

Justin Martin Ellis, 37, pleaded not guilty by video Wednesday in Orange County criminal court in Chelsea to a felony count of larceny from a person. If convicted, Ellis faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. He was ordered held at Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans on $50,000 bail.

Police said Ellis’ girlfriend, Tiffany LeClerc, 27, has been cited for accessory before the fact for her involvement in the case. LeClerc is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 2 to answer the charge.

Detective Trooper Mathew Nadeau, of the Vermont State Police, said in his affidavit an employee at Bar Harbor Bank & Trust in Williamstown called 911 on Jan. 7 to report a male had just robbed the bank. Nadeau said the employee reported the male did not display a weapon, took cash and fled south in a vehicle.

The detective said the employee reported the male walked up to her window and told her he needed all the cash in her register. She told police the male told her not to push any alarms and, “I don’t want to do this, but I’m forced to.” Nadeau said the male didn’t make any comments about a weapon and told the employee he was not going to hurt her. The detective said the male made off with $808 in cash.

The detective said police were able to identify the male as Ellis by going to Washington Village Store and asking if anyone could identify the male from bank surveillance footage. He said staff at the store reported the male was Ellis because he had been at the store earlier that day.

Nadeau said surveillance footage from the store showed a female, later identified as LeClerc, was with Ellis.

The detective said police later found the vehicle Ellis used to flee the bank in East Barre. He said he obtained a search warrant for the vehicle, which had identification for Ellis and LeClerc inside. He said police found white glassine bags, typically used for packaging heroin, as well.

He said on Jan. 11 police executed a search warrant on Ellis’ apartment on North Main Street, where Ellis and LeClerc were found. Nadeau said Ellis denied committing the robbery, though he admitted people in the community thought he did it.

Ellis told Nadeau he was driving the vehicle police said was involved in the robbery on Jan. 9 when it ran out of gas so he left it in East Barre. Nadeau said Ellis admitted to going to the Washington Village Store the day of the bank robbery to get gas, and he was in that town to buy drugs.

The detective said LeClerc reported she was with Ellis all day when the robbery occurred. She initially told police they never went to a bank, according to court records.

Nadeau said LeClerc reported she and Ellis owed drug dealers money and the dealers were threatening them and their families for money.

He said she later admitted the robbery was a “spur of the moment” thing. Nadeau said LeClerc reported she and Ellis let addiction get the best of them and the robbery is not something they would typically do.

With LeClerc’s admission, Nadeau said Ellis was taken into custody. The detective said Ellis later admitted to robbing the bank. Ellis reported he didn’t have a weapon in his possession and told the bank employee she could call police after he left, according to court records.

Ellis has a history of robbing businesses. In January 2019, he pleaded guilty to a felony count of larceny from a person. In that case police said Ellis stole cash from a register at the Fast Stop convenience store in Barre in April 2018.

In July 2015, Ellis pleaded guilty to two felony counts of larceny from a person.

For one of the convictions, police said he robbed Brookside Country Store in Barre Town in November 2014. For the other conviction, police said he also robbed Gramps’ Country Store in West Topsham that same month.

eric.blaisdell @timesargus.com

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