Cash stashed in snowbank

Police: Suspect claims debt behind robbery

Michelle Monroe

By Michelle Monroe

Executive Editor

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The Facts

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ST. ALBANS — Accused bank robber Jacob M. Rheaume hid in a dumpster as part of his effort to escape detection, according to court documents released following his arraignment on Wednesday morning.

Rheaume, 30, of Highgate, is charged with robbing the TD Bank on Main Street in Enosburg Falls shortly after 10 a.m. on Monday.

Rheaume was on parole for a series of burglaries committed in 2006 with a group of three other people. He was sentenced to five to 15 years for his role in those burglaries and is currently on probation. The burglaries in three different counties, and for the Franklin County robberies, which were sentenced first, he faced a reduced charge of possession of stolen property and was sentenced to three months to a year. The Grand Isle and Chittenden County crimes were sentenced in 2007 and led to the longer sentence.

Prior to the most recent allegation, Rheaume already was scheduled to be under the supervision of the parole board until 2024, according to defense attorney Rory Malone.

Following Rheaume’s arrest on Monday afternoon, Judge Alison Arms set bail at $50,000. She reduced it to $25,000 yesterday, finding that should he be released he would have reason to flee, since he is facing a possible 10-year sentence to be added to the previous sentence. “His exposure makes him a flight risk,” said Arms.

According to an affidavit from Det. Tom Hango of the Vermont State Police, Rheaume entered the bank around 10:15 a.m. and demanded a teller give him “all the 20s, 50s and 100s,” in the words of one witness.

He was given money and he fled.

An off-duty Customs and Border Protection officer, James Marshia, was in the bank meeting with a loan officer at the time of the robbery. Marshia pursued the robber and was able to describe for police the route he took.

Sgt. Will Ruprecht of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office followed that route, which included tracks in the snow, and was able to get video footage from cameras at both Enosburg Falls High School and Cold Hollow Career Center showing the robber fleeing.

Following the tracks in the snow also led him to the dumpster beside St. John the Baptist Church in which he found a mask resembling that described by witnesses as belonging to the robber.

A witness who knew Rheaume reported seeing him running down Missisquoi Street and behind the witness’s residence. Rheaume told the witness he was being chased, said Hango.

Police then spoke with Rheaume’s girlfriend, who called Rheaume. Rheaume agreed to meet with police. However, he denied any role in the robbery, stating he was simply walking in downtown at the time it occurred.

Rheaume agreed to show Hango where he had walked, and also agreed to a search of his vehicle, which did not turn up anything of interest to police.

Rheaume was released, but brought back later that day for a second interview at the Enosburgh Emergency Services Building. He continued to deny any involvement in the robbery, but was nevertheless arrested.

At the St. Albans Barracks he was processed, given cigarettes, Doritos and coffee, and then interviewed a third time.

According to Hango, “Rheaume began to cry and tremble and advised he felt sick. He explained how people were demanding money from him and he was trying to pay it. Rheaume went on to explain how in the last two months he has become addicted to heroin and is currently using 10 bags a day… Rheaume stated it is so bad he goes to sleep at night wearing long sleeve shirts in an attempt to hide the track marks from (his girlfriend).”

However, Rheaume continued to deny involvement in the robbery. He was returned to his cell.

Approximately 10 minutes later, during his fourth interview, Rheaume said he wanted to talk. He described running out of the bank, being chased by Marshia and hiding in the dumpster by the Catholic Church, the same one where the mask was found.

He also described for police tucking the clothes he wore during the robbery around his waist and later burning them.

During their canvassing of the village, officers had found a pile of money on Pleasant Street. Rheaume told Hango he had left the money there after spotting a Vermont State Trooper approaching him in an unmarked car. “I reached into my pocket and I grabbed the money and put in the snowbank,” Hango reports Rheaume as saying.

Rheaume is currently in custody on the parole violation. He has been charged with one count of assault and robbery. If convicted he faces up to 10 years in prison.