Suspects in String of Robberies are Arraigned

The two men arrested in East Lyme Tuesday in connection with a string of robberies were arraigned in New London Superior Court this afternoon.

Kevin Smith, wearing jeans, a long-sleeve shirt and a crown of uneven dreadlocks, remained mostly silent during his brief court appearance.

Judge Kevin P. McMahon asked Smith if he could post his $500,000 bond, to which Smith simply replied, “No.” McMahon changed the bond to $90,000 cash.

Bail Commissioner Michael Amanti said Smith has pending criminal charges, including  issuing a bad check, second-degree larceny and first-degree failure to appear in court.

Smith, 23, and Kenneth Buckingham, 44, have been charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery and criminal attempt to commit first-degree robbery.

Buckingham also has been charged with burglary and criminal use of a firearm. He is being held on a $1 million bond and will be arraigned this afternoon.

When Buckingham was arraigned later in the afternoon, McMahon ordered him held on $1 million bond, saying it appeared the state has a strong case.

Buckingham claims he was in court during the time police allege he was conspiring to hold up a local bank.

His case was continued to May 29.

While conducting surveillance of local banks, police stopped a car because it resembled one they were seeking in connection with four robberies.

At that time, they charged Smith, the driver, with driving with a suspended license. He was arrested in a parking lot of the Yummy Yummy Pizzeria Restaurant on Route 161 just north of the Flanders Four Corners.

Buckingham, who was the passenger, fled on foot. Because police believed he was armed and dangerous, they had four schools and at least one local bank locked down for a couple of hours Tuesday. The schools were locked down from 10:15 to about noon.

Authorities set up a command center in the parking lot behind the Flanders Fire Department. A state police helicopter also assisted in the search for Buckingham.

Detective William Blanchette of the Eastern District Major Crime Squad reached Buckingham on his cell phone and spoke with him repeatedly. Buckingham said he was headed back down Route 9 to turn himself in.

Buckingham never got that far. He was arrested in Old Saybrook, near the junction of Route 9 south and Interstate 95.

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