BURLINGTON — Federal prosecutors want to keep a Springfield man behind bars, saying there are no conditions of release that could protect the public from him.
Samuel Colby, 39, appeared in U.S. District Court in Burlington on Tuesday afternoon via video conferencing to face charges of bank robbery in connection with the Jan. 8 holdup of the 802 Credit Union in Springfield. He is also a suspect in half a dozen recent armed robberies in the Springfield-Westminster area in the past two weeks, including the armed robbery of the Allen Brothers Farm Market in Westminster on Jan. 6.
In all instances, Colby showed bank or store employees a handgun, and in one case, threatened to shoot a bank teller if she didn’t give him more money.
“There are no conditions of release that will reasonably assure the safety of the community,” wrote Jonathan Ophardt, assistant U.S. attorney. Ophardt wrote that Colby was “a significant danger to the community.”
Court records also said Colby was the main suspect in the armed robbery of the People’s United Bank in Springfield, the robbery of the Family Dollar store in Springfield, and the attempted second robbery of the Springfield 802 Credit Union, as well as the armed robbery of the Circle K truck stop at Exit 7 in Springfield.
Colby was arrested Friday in Springfield, capping more than a weeklong investigation into his alleged illegal activities, according to documents filed Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court.
In a brief video hearing before Judge Kevin Doyle from the state prison in Springfield, Doyle postponed the formal detention hearing until Wednesday to give the federal pretrial services officer time to generate a report on Colby.
Colby, wearing a mask and white prison clothing, told the judge he had spoken with federal public defender Sara Puls about his case. He is eligible for her services, the judge ruled.
Colby has an extensive criminal record, according to the motion for his detention, and it noted that even after he was questioned by Springfield Police and other law enforcement investigators and his car confiscated pending a search, he continued his alleged illegal activities.
His arrest, which was announced this weekend on social media by the Springfield Police Department, drew more than 200 comments from the general public, thanking the police for getting Colby off the streets.
Colby had three previous felony convictions, and served time in jail for selling cocaine and also for burglarizing a home, which was amended to trespassing. He was arrested in Bellows Falls on Nov. 1 and charged with possession of heroin. He was described as “a significant danger to the community.”
The affidavit supporting the motion for detention said a search of Colby’s home turned up a small amount of heroin, but also several empty envelopes typically used to hold heroin or fentanyl.
That evidence “indicates Colby suffers from opiate use disorder,” the motion noted.
Police said when they searched his 2017 Chevy Malibu after the attempted second robbery of 802 Credit Union on Jan. 10, they found a pellet gun under the seat of the vehicle.
Credit union employees had locked the lobby door at the second incident, after they saw Colby and said they recognized him from the previous robbery. Colby was in the credit union’s lobby, using the ATV, and later was in his vehicle outside when Springfield Police arrived after being alerted to a possible second robbery.
When police later searched his home, they found a box of live ammunition for a .22-caliber weapon, with 25 rounds, but no gun.