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    Alleged serial bank robber, a former deputy, is held without bail

    Chaka J. Meredith
    Chaka J. Meredith

    An alleged serial bank robber was ordered held without bail Thursday during his arraignment in Lawrence District Court on charges stemming from a string of heists from Boston to the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee.

    Lawrence police arrested Chaka Meredith, a former North Carolina law enforcement officer, around 7 p.m. Wednesday during an investigation that involved FBI agents and police from other municipalities.

    The FBI had offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to his capture. A spokeswoman said at least part of that amount would be paid out.


    Meredith had six warrants connected to unarmed robberies in January: two in Lawrence, one in Jamaica Plain, one in Pepperell, one in Plaistow, N.H., and one in Laconia, N.H., Lawrence police said.

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    In a news release, police said they had been looking for Meredith and Kristi Riley, an associate, based on information suggesting they were in Lawrence’s lower Tower Hill area.

    “Sergeant Michael Simard and Officer James Fermin of the Lawrence Police Patrol Division encountered the two individuals at the intersection of Melvin and Margin streets and executed the arrest,” police said in a news release.

    Riley has a warrant out of Laconia, and she is charged in Massachusetts as a fugitive from justice, police said. She was also being held without bail.

    Meredith, 41, appeared in Lawrence District Court, where he was ordered held on $50,000 bail on the cases in that city, Essex prosecutors said. However, Judge Holly Broadbent denied him bail on the fugitive from justice charges related to the New Hampshire incidents.


    Officials in Warren County, N.C., said Meredith had worked as a sheriff’s deputy there between 2008 and 2009. According to an April 29, 2009, article in the Henderson, N.C., Daily Dispatch , Meredith was hospitalized after a single-vehicle on-duty crash.

    In court Thursday, Meredith’s defense attorney said his client became addicted to heroin after taking prescription drugs from an accident he suffered while he was a police officer, according to WCVB-TV (Channel 5) .

    Meredith pleaded not guilty to the Massachusetts charges and has agreed to face the charges against him in New Hampshire at a later date.

    He is due back in the Lawrence courthouse March 2.

    “Thanks to the collaborative effort of several law enforcement agencies, as well as the diligent work of Sergeant Simard and Officer Fermin, this dangerous individual was taken off the street,” Lawrence Police Chief James X. Fitzpatrick said in a statement.

    Andy Rosen can be reached at