Photo Gallery: Christopher Blair arraignment
GREAT BARRINGTON -- A New York man accused of robbing a Stockbridge bank recently is back in Massachusetts, where he is being held on $250,000 bail after pleading not guilty.
Christopher Blair, 34, of Hillsdale, was arraigned in Southern Berkshire District Court on Thursday after being brought from Columbia County, N.Y., where he has been held as a fugitive from justice since his arrest there on March 10 on a warrant.
He pleaded not guilty to charges of felony unarmed robbery and larceny over $250 and misdemeanor assault and battery.
His lawyer, Richard D. LeBlanc, waived the initial bail argument until a later date and bail was set by Judge Philip A. Beattie at $250,000 cash or surety. The defendant is being held at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction.
An April 3 pretrial hearing date was set by agreement between LeBlanc and Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Jason Lederman.
Because the charge of unarmed robbery can only be dealt with in Superior Court, it's likely the case will go before the grand jury.
Blair was dressed in the same clothes he was wearing when he was arrested March 10, hours after the brazen daylight robbery of the Lee Bank.
Massachusetts State Police said Blair, with the hood of his jacket pulled up to mask his identity, walked into the Lee Bank on Elm Street just before the 4 p.m. closing, and handed a teller a note ordering her to give him money. He did not display any type of weapon, police said.
The teller asked him what the note meant and Blair told her to give him her money, according to a police probable cause report. He then took the cash she had been counting, hopped over the counter and grabbed more money before fleeing the area in a beat-up blue Chevrolet truck. He was arrested a few hours later in Hillsdale by New York State Police.
He allegedly admitted he was high on heroin during the robbery and said that afterward he bought more and used it before his arrest.
When taken into custody he had about $525 cash on him, police said.
He was held without bail in Columbia County. On Tuesday, he appeared at the Columbia County Court and waved rendition, which allowed him to be transported back to the Berkshires to face the charges here.
This was the first bank robbery in nearly 80 years and possibly only the second in the history of Stockbridge, according to Eagle records.
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