ANDOVER — When Christopher Decareau approached the front door of the Eastern Bank branch on Main Street, his fingertips were covered with clear plastic Band-Aids, police said. Bandages also obscured tattoos on his neck and arms.
There was a note in his pocket that said "you are being robbed. Give me 100s + 50s. No excuses! No one gets hurt."
But Decareau, 26, of 382 Central St., Saugus, never made it in the front door of the bank.
According to records filed in court, members of the FBI Bank Robbery Task Force had been trailing Decareau and his girlfriend all day Tuesday through several area communities, watching as they cased banks.
They entered Andover at about 3:45 p.m. and drove by the Eastern Bank at 60 Main St. several times, said Andover police Lt. John Pathiakis. Federal and state agents then followed the two suspects and their child to Tewksbury, where they checked out one of the Eastern Banks there.
The duo returned to Andover and parked near the Main Street bank at around 5 p.m.
When Decareau got out, he left his girlfriend in the car with the baby.
As he approached the bank, he was apprehended by members of the FBI task force and local detectives. They found evidence on him that linked him to the previous bank robberies, Pathiakis said. He did not have a gun or a knife, but may have had note-writing material similar to what was used in previous incidents.
His girlfriend, Jennifer Sannizzaro, 24, who gave an address of 302 Essex Ave., Gloucester, was arrested on Chestnut Street as she sat in their black 2003 Lincoln Navigator with their 2-month-old daughter.
Both were arraigned yesterday in Lawrence District Court and charged with attempting to commit a crime — bank robbery.
At the beginning of the arraignment, defense attorney Stephen VanDyke sought to have his client, Decareau, stand out of view of news cameras in the courtroom, telling the court having his picture taken undermined his presumption of innocence.
But Judge Thomas Brennan denied the request and ordered Decareau to stand beside his lawyer in court.
Moments later Brennan interrupted the proceedings with a stern admonishment to VanDyke. "I don't appreciate you standing in front of him," Brennan said. "This is an open court. Now stand beside him."
Decareau is a suspect in as many as seven robberies of banks in the area. Assistant District Dttorney Jennifer Kunsch told the court Decareau agreed to talk to police after his arrest and admitted to robbing banks in Salem, Lynn, Canton, Reading, Everett and Braintree.
Sannizzaro refused to talk to police and asked to speak to a lawyer, Kunsch said.
Her 2-month-old daughter was placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.
The Gloucester address given for Sannizzaro is the Wellspring House emergency shelter for homeless families. Lt. Kathy Auld, who heads the Gloucester Police detective bureau, said there is no record that Sannizzaro had any prior involvement with the Gloucester police.
Kay O'Rourke, executive director at Wellspring House, said yesterday that she is legally bound not to identify any women or families who stay at the facility.
Kunsch told the court Decareau said he and Sannizzaro have a heroin addiction that takes a considerable amount of money to support.
Decareau implicated Sannizzaro in the robbery schemes, telling police she even wrote some of the notes used in the robberies. "She knew exactly what was going on," Kunsch said.
According to reports filed in the case, Decareau admitted during his interview with police he intended to rob either the Eastern Bank in Tewksbury, or the Eastern Bank in Andover "because they usually have more money, and finally decided on the bank in Andover.
He admitted stealing the Band-Aids and a receipt pad earlier in the day in Peabody to aid in the robbery.
Decareau has a significant criminal record, which is dotted with failures to appear in court, and Sannizzaro has a lesser record of mostly motor vehicle offenses, authorities said.
During the arraignment Kunsch asked for $500,000 cash bail on Decareau, and $100,000 cash bail on Sannizzaro.
But James Krasnoo, lawyer for Sannizzaro told the court that even in the face of Decareau's statements to police implicating her, if he ultimately decided to refuse to testify against her, those statements could not be used against her, significantly weakening the case against her.
Brennan agreed with Krasnoo's assertion and set $20,000 bail on Sannizzaro, but granted Kunsch's request and ordered Decareau held on $500,000 cash bail.
Both face up to 2 1/2 years in the house of correction if they are convicted on the charges, of attempting to commit a crime.
They were ordered to return to court on June 17.