A Hagerstown man charged with attempting to rob one business, then robbing another about five minutes later Saturday, had his bond doubled to $150,000 Monday at a bail review hearing in Washington County District Court.
Mark Edward Ernst, 44, of 31 Madison Ave., is charged with robbery, attempted robbery, theft, two counts of first-degree assault and three counts of second-degree assault, court records show. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing May 30.
“I don’t think it’s an insult to him to say he’s a robber,” Deputy State’s Attorney Joseph Michael told District Judge Mark D. Thomas.
Ernst has four robbery-related convictions on his criminal record and admits to a long history of addiction to crack cocaine, Michael said.
“I can’t afford no type of bond, so I’d probably be better off just staying here,” Ernst told Thomas by closed-circuit television link from the county detention center.
Maryland State Police were dispatched to Phil & Jerry’s Meats and More at 22937 Jefferson Blvd. in Smithsburg at 7:08 p.m. Saturday for a report of a robbery, the statement of probable cause said.
“Give me your money or I’ll shove this screwdriver through your temple,” a man told cashiers, the charging document said.
Despite the threat, the man fled the store without any cash.
At 7:15 p.m., as a trooper was heading to the store, a robbery was called in at the Liberty gas station at 20505 Jefferson Boulevard in Hagerstown, the charging document said. The robber left about two minutes before the call was dispatched, the document said.
The businesses are less than five miles apart.
The female attendant at the gas station said Saturday night that a man hit her in the arm and took the cash register. The man was wearing a white hoodie and camouflage shorts, the charging document said.
Police had a license plate number and a description of a passenger vehicle seen traveling on Robinwood Drive toward Dual Highway, the charging document said.
At 7:26 p.m., a woman in the parking lot of Meritus Medical Center called 911, saying she saw a man jumping on what looked like a cash register, the charging document said. The man, who the witness said was wearing camouflage shorts, then drove out of the parking lot, the document said.
The suspect vehicle was spotted on Dual Highway less than a mile from Meritus Medical Center and was pulled over, the charging document said. A cash register was sitting on the passenger side floorboard, the document said.
“I was driving down the road looking for money to buy more cocaine,” Ernst allegedly told police, the charging document said.
He told police he had been addicted to the drug since 1985, the document said.
If convicted, Ernst could face up to life in prison under Maryland law as a repeat violent offender, Michael said.