The Rockingham County attorney's office may bring charges against the "burly bandit," a Lowell man linked to nearly a dozen bank robberies across New England, including in Hampstead and Londonderry.
County Attorney Jim Reams said yesterday his office is compiling information from the two local robberies that could lead to state charges against John Ferguson, a heavyset man of many disguises who was arrested in Maine, where he is scheduled to go on trial in October.
Although Reams said his office is looking at the case, it doesn't necessarily mean charges would be filed by his office. Federal authorities could end up handling the matter.
"We're in the process of reviewing it for charges," he said. "It's too early to tell."
The county is working with the Londonderry and Hampstead police departments. Authorities in only one other community, Warwick, R.I., have filed state charges against Ferguson.
Ferguson is suspected of robbing Hampshire First Bank in Londonderry and Pentucket Bank in Hampstead within two hours of each other on June 1. In both heists, the portly robber pulled a gun on bank tellers and fled with cash. He was described as weighing nearly 300 pounds and believed to have stuffed a pillow underneath his shirt. That disguise and others, including a straw cowboy hat, earned the man colorful nicknames, including the "Burly Bandit," "Cowboy Robber" and "Pillow-bellied Bank Robber."
Ferguson is wanted on charges of robbing 10 banks in five New England states and is being investigated as a possible suspect in another bank robbery before his arrest in Maine on July 14, according to Jon Haddow, his court-appointed attorney.
Haddow said yesterday that Ferguson has been linked to a bank robbery in New York.
His client remains in the county jail awaiting his trial in U.S. District Court in Bangor, Maine.
"He does seem to be holding up pretty well," Haddow said yesterday.
During his first court appearance in Maine, the Greyhound bus driver said he needed his medication for bipolar disorder and depression.
"He had a hard time at one point, but is better emotionally," Haddow said.
It remains to be seen if Ferguson will be prosecuted in other states or if the cases will be consolidated.
"Our prosecution will be in (cooperation) with the feds," Reams said.
"He has violated the law on both the state and federal levels. Both have the possibility of charges."
Haddow said such cases are often consolidated and the state charges dropped.
"Any of that would be a possibility. We would have to see how that plays out," he said. "From an administrative standpoint, it makes sense to consolidate."