, Salem, MA

August 22, 2013

Man gets 10 to 15 years for North Shore holdup spree


---- — SALEM — A man who was still on probation for an armed holdup spree nearly a decade ago admitted yesterday to committing four more holdups on the North Shore last November.

Dennis Porter, 44, who was living in a tent in a wooded area off Route 128 in Peabody when he was arrested, will now spend the next 10 to 15 years in state prison, the result of a plea agreement accepted yesterday by Salem Superior Court Judge John Lu.

Porter pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery, for which he’ll serve the prison term, and two counts of unarmed robbery, for which he will have four years of probation after his release.

He also admitted to violating his probation in the earlier robbery spree, which included a holdup at the former Li’l Peach in Beverly in 2005.

Prosecutor Michael Sheehan told the judge that area police worked together to solve the string of holdups, the first of which occurred on Nov. 16, when Porter walked into the 7-Eleven in downtown Salem, appearing to be talking on a cellphone, which he held in his left hand.

But in his right hand was what was later determined to be a pellet gun. He demanded cash and left with $120, Sheehan told the judge.

Another holdup was reported on Nov. 25 at the Town Variety store on Central Street in Peabody, where Porter walked in with a scratch ticket and asked the clerk to check it. The clerk told him it was a losing ticket, and that’s when Porter pulled a gun and demanded cash from the lottery machine and the register, Sheehan told the judge.

But after that holdup, Porter apparently dropped the gun during his flight from police, who had chased the car he was in to a home on Endicott Street.

Police found the gun, but not Porter, who by now was identified as a suspect.

The following night, Porter, wearing a red jacket, showed up at the Sunoco gas station on Brimbal Avenue in Beverly, where he walked in and announced, “I’m going to rob you.” This time he didn’t show a gun, but told the clerk he had one and demanded that she open the register.

Sheehan said Porter grabbed the cash, as well as the clerk’s own iPhone.

Police began “pinging” the smartphone to determine its location. That led them to an apartment complex where a friend of Porter told police that Porter had stayed with them briefly and left behind a red jacket.

The next afternoon, Nov. 27, Porter showed up at Pet Life, a pet supply store on Route 114 in Danvers, and again demanded cash. This time there was no mention of a gun.

Police got information that Porter was at a trailer on Route 1 in Peabody, where police found him.

He was arrested after a brief struggle with officers.

But yesterday, Porter appeared resigned to the consequences. He nodded vigorously when asked if he believed his lawyer, John Morris, had adequately represented him.

Porter told the judge he has four children between the ages of 10 and 13, two of whom are being adopted and two in the custody of his aunt and uncle.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.