ST. ALBANS — A Georgia man accused of robbing a Highgate gas station is being held without bail after pleading not guilty to the charge Thursday.
Jason Bockus, 40, was arraigned in Franklin County Superior Court on a single count of assault and robbery with a weapon, according to charging documents for the case. Bockus was arrested Wednesday by Vermont State Police after an investigation into the Dec. 4 incident, and is being held at Northwest State Correctional Facility.
The charges stem from an armed robbery that took place shortly before 11 p.m. on Dec. 4 at the Irving gas station at 3108 Route 78 in Highgate. According to an affidavit filed in the case, clerks in the gas station reported a man walked up to the counter, pulled aside his sweatshirt to show he had a gun in his pocket, and asked the cashier to “open the drawer.”
The man then walked to the other side of the counter and, after taking money from the register, fled on foot, police said. Gas station employees then called police, who brought a K-9 to the scene. However, the K-9 was not able to track down the suspect.
After reviewing surveillance footage, police released images from the footage of the suspect online and in the news media. Within days, local police received numerous tips that the man in the images was Bockus, but few were willing to provide information, according to the affidavit.
Police described it as “a recurring theme of individuals who positively identified bocks but have been reluctant to provide information or fear of retaliation.”As the investigation continued, police found sources “including family members, Probation and Parole and members of the public” who positively identified Bockus as the man in the video, according to the affidavit.
Police executed a search warrant at the Georgia property where Bockus was staying on Wednesday. Two cell phones were seized, and Bockus was arrested, but “no other evidence pertinent to this investigation was seized.”
When asked by Detective Sgt. Angela Baker of the Vermont State Police, who authored the affidavit, if Bockus wanted to talk about the incident, Bockus responded “I didn’t call you back because you’re barking up the wrong tree.”Bockus’ criminal record includes eight felony charges and 4 convictions, as well as 30 misdemeanor charges and 17 convictions, according to the affidavit. Bockus was charged following a similar armed robbery of the Jolley Shortstop at 277 South Main St. in St. Albans in June 2017, according to the affidavit. The affidavit also noted that Bockus had abused drugs in the past.