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Bank robbers nabbed, loot used to avoid eviction



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Photo by Jeff Woodburn Accused bank robber Daniel Hufstetler confers with his attorney, Hannah Kinne.
November 22, 2011
LANCASTER A recently unemployed man and his girlfriend are accused of robbing a local bank and -- minutes later -- depositing part of the loot into their landlord's bank account to avoid eviction from their High Street, Berlin apartment. On Thursday, Daniel Hufstetler and Sheena Craig separately appeared in Lancaster District Court to face felony charges brought against them.

Hufstetler allegedly robbed at gunpoint the Guardian Angel Credit Union in Berlin on November 14 at 2:50 p.m. and then fled in a get-away car driven by Craig. Several witnesses described the suspects and their vehicle, according to Berlin Police Lt. Dan Buteau, who represented the state in both appearances. Hufstetler left with $3,450 and 17 minutes later, Craig made a deposit into their landlord, David Thompson's account at Northway Bank. Three days earlier, on Nov. 11, Thompson sought the help of the local police to assist him in evicting Hufstetler and Craig.

The two were arrested without incident on Wednesday evening, and arraigned at around noon the next day in Lancaster District Court.

Hufstetler, 32, has a lengthy criminal record in Georgia, where he is currently wanted for violating his parole. In July, Berlin police arrested him for being a fugitive, but Georgia officials did not want to transport him back there. He moved to the area in February, apparently with Craig, who has family ties to the region. Hufstetler worked at Steel Elements, but was laid off recently, according to a former co-worker's testimony in the affidavit. If convicted, he could face as many as 20 years in prison. The offense is a Class A felony. Hufstetler's attorney, Hannah Kinne, with the Littleton public defender's office, said her client plans to plead not guilty. The state's evidence, she said, is "all circumstantial."

Buteau argued that Hufstetler's bail should be set at $75,000 cash only bail based on his previous criminal record, and, Buteau said, the defendant is a "danger to public safety and a possible flight risk." Kinne countered that bail should be $20,000 personal recognizance and $10,000 cash or corporate surety. "He's indigent (and ) has no income," she said and suggested setting bail so high that it excludes only wealthy people could be violation of the "equal protection rights for people without money."

A few minutes after Hufstetler was escorted out of the courtroom by Deputy Sheriffs and taken to the Coos County prison to await a Nov. 23 probable cause hearing, his girlfriend and alleged partner-in-crime, Craig arrived in court. Awaiting her arrival was her mother and one other person. Craig's mother had minutes before complained to Buteau that Hufstetler "has almost kept her as prisoner." Later, when asked about the incident, the woman said, "no comment." When asked about the comments on Friday morning, Craig's attorney Joseph Garrison also declined to comment.

Craig, 29, who is formerly known as Marzullo, faces less hefty charges -- conspiracy to commit bank robbery punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison. Buteau asked Judge Paul Desjardin to upgrade the charges from Class B to Class A felony, based on the statutory definition of the alleged crime.

Buteau argued that Craig's bail be set at $50,000 personal recognizance and $500 cash bail. He noted that Craig was unemployed and had a record in 2005 she was convicted of theft in Georgia. Her attorney, Joseph Garrison, who is also with the local public defender's office, said $500 cash bond, was not fair. "It's inappropriate," he said, "for driving a car." Garrison also said Craig's conviction should have been annulled, that she has worked over a year as an overnight stocker at the Gorham Wal-Mart and that she has strong local ties including two girls aged 7 and 13. "She has a tremendous amount of commitment to the area," said Garrison. Desjardin was unconvinced and ruled in favor of the state. Garrison said the family was collecting the money and would have it in a few hours.

Buteau said that the Berlin Police Department, State Police, FBI and Coos County Sheriff's Department worked on the case. He summed up; it "was good work, good leads and a lot of help."

Tiffany Eddy
Martin Lord Osman
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