BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — PEABODY — A man suspected in a series of holdups around the North Shore over a two-week period was ordered held yesterday on $100,000 cash bail.
Dennis Porter, 43, pleaded not guilty to an armed robbery charge stemming from a holdup at Town Variety on Central Street in Peabody on Sunday night.
Police say Porter was driven to the store by a second suspect, Glenn Roderick, then went inside and handed the clerk a losing lottery ticket he claimed was a winner. When the clerk opened the drawer, he brandished a gun and demanded the contents of the lottery machine, according to police.
Police in Danvers, Beverly and Salem have also linked Porter to holdups in those communities.
Besides Sunday night’s holdup, police suspect Porter in a holdup at the Sunoco gas station on Brimbal Avenue in Beverly on Monday night and at Pet Life on Route 114 in Danvers on Tuesday night, as well as a holdup at the 7-Eleven on Norman Street in Salem on Nov. 16.
And Porter is no stranger to the legal system, with a record dating back to 1987 that includes, most recently, a five-year stint in state prison for armed robbery in 2005, prosecutor Nat Sears told a Peabody District Court judge yesterday. In March 2005, he was charged with holding up a Li’l Peach on Essex Street in Beverly.
Porter was still on probation in that case when he was arrested, on a warrant issued by the Essex Superior Court probation department, which was supervising him.
“You have a career criminal here with no place to live,” said Sears, who described how Porter, of Lynn, had apparently been living in a tent set up in a wooded area behind the median between routes 128 and 114, behind Chandler’s Ice Cream.
Porter was eventually caught in a trailer on Route 1, where he tried to escape through a bathroom window before police forced their way in and immobilized him with a stun gun, Sears said.
As the prosecutor spoke, Porter shook his head.
Before the start of the hearing, he was appointed a local attorney, John Ruehrwein, from the bar advocate’s program. Though he was living in a tent before his arrest, Porter appeared confident that he will be able to afford his own attorney, announcing that he “may” retain private counsel but will think about it.
Ruehrwein urged a lower bail, no more than $1,000, for Porter, who grew up in Beverly and has five children.
Despite his long record, the lawyer said, Porter tends to make most of his court appearances.
Judge Richard Mori granted the request of the prosecutor to set bail at $100,000 cash.
In the event he makes bail, Porter was ordered to stay away from the scene of the crime and the victims.
He’s expected to be brought into Salem District Court to answer to allegations in the Beverly, Salem and Danvers holdups.
He’s due back in Peabody District Court on Dec. 18.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.