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Bank robbery suspect arrested

By Mike Donoghue, Vermont News First,

This article was published in today’s Caledonian-Record

A Chittenden County man, who is a suspect in at least four of the bank robbery cases in the past month in Northwestern Vermont, has been jailed for a reported parole violation, officials said.

Samuel W. Blatt, 32, was arrested by members of the Chittenden County Gun Violence Task Force operated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the parole case on Friday, officials said.

By Monday afternoon, a federal complaint charging Blatt with the $5,300 armed robbery at the Union Bank on Lower Main Street in Johnson on March 5 had been filed in U.S. District Court.

Winooski Detective Stephen Bova, a member of the local task force, filed a 14-page affidavit linking Blatt to the four bank robbery complaints in Essex, Johnson, Burlington and Winooski, court records show.

No arraignment date has been set at U.S. District Court as of late Monday afternoon.

Bova said Essex Police detectives, who were investigating their own armed robbery at M&T Bank near Lowe’s off Susie Wilson Road on Feb. 28, contacted Lamoille deputy sheriffs after a March 5 holdup in Johnson. Essex Police said they had an independent eyewitness who said Blatt was clearly the person depicted in a photograph of the M&T robber, Bova said.

Blatt had fled from the Essex robbery in a gray Honda Fit, and the Lamoille Sheriff’s department said an identical car was seen leaving the Johnson robbery, Bova said. He said it included getting captured on video passing westbound past a Jolly’s Convenience Store two minutes after the robbery.

The task force made the arrest on Shelburne Road near Caroline Street about 3 p.m. Friday. Blatt was in a truck with Raymond White and Anna Wells, Bova said in his affidavit.

Blatt was lodged on the parole complaint at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans Town.

It was unclear why Blatt, 32, was free in the community.

Vermont records show since 2010, Blatt has amassed at least 20 adult criminal convictions, mostly felonies, including eight burglaries, two false pretenses, two escapes and two credit card frauds.

Records indicate that Blatt also has convictions for forgery, grand larceny, and unlawful trespass into a residence. They also show he has two misdemeanors for possessing stolen property and one for disorderly conduct.

Blatt has had several residences in Chittenden County and has also lived in Swanton. Records show that his crimes have impacted many people in Chittenden County.

Police have not said whether Blatt is an official suspect in a fifth robbery by a masked man reported at the North County Federal Credit Union on South Main Street in Alburgh last Thursday.

The Grand Isle County Sheriff’s Department provided a quick response with three deputies, but the robber fled on foot and is believed to have gotten into a waiting car nearby to leave the area, officials said.

Sheriff Ray Allen said the U.S. Border Patrol, Swanton Police, and Vermont Fish and Wildlife had nearby officers flood the area to try to locate the robber, but they came away empty-handed.

The Vermont State Police and the Gun Violence Task Force also joined in the investigation and tried to look for common clues.

The M&T Bank near Susie Wilson Road and Vermont 15 in Essex Town reported about $1,000 was stolen during a robbery at about 3:50 p.m. Feb. 28 by a lone bandit, Essex Police said. The robber used a note to make his demand from the teller.

The Johnson robbery involved a lone robber armed with a handgun entering the Union Bank on Main Street in Johnson of a substantial amount of money about 11:37 a.m. on March 5, the Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department reported.

A robber tried to rob the Community Bank on North Avenue in Burlington about 10:18 a.m. last Monday, March 13, but he fled without getting any money, police said.

About two hours later a bandit entered the TD Bank at 27 East Allen Street in Winooski and handed a note to a teller demanding money, Winooski Police said. He fled with about $600 at about 12:30 p.m., police said.

Burlington Police got a tip that the Honda Fit was on Pearl Street near the Green Mountain Transit bus depot. Police found the woman and a juvenile in the car, which had been stolen from Colchester on Feb. 12, Bova said.

The woman driving the car said Blatt had arrived at her Essex home about 8 a.m. on March 13 and that she needed to borrow it later in the day for her to attend a court hearing, Bova said.

The car was returned to the Burlington Police Station, where the owner was contacted. Bova said the owner and the driver went through the car with police to determine who owned what items. He said clothing worn by the robber in different cases was found in the car.

Williston Police responded to Dick’s Sporting Goods at Maple Tree Place on Friday for a report of a customer with a large amount of cash and paying for items with six $100 bills, Bova said. The security camera showed the customer had a star-shaped tattoo on his left hand that matched a tattoo that was seen in some of the robberies. The video confirmed it was Blatt, Bova said.

Blatt was with White and Wells as he left Dick’s and eventually they were stopped in White’s 2021 Toyota Tundra pickup in Burlington about 3 p.m., police said. Bova said Blatt was arrested on the state warrant.


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