RUMFORD — A District Court judge set bail at $40,000 Wednesday for a Wilton man facing more than a dozen charges after escaping from a police van, assaulting a police officer and a local woman, and crashing a stolen car into a tree.

Derek Cook, 31, of Wilton was arrested Tuesday after he escaped from a police van in Wilton and led officers from several departments on a chase that resulted in a corporal from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and a Wilton woman being assaulted. He was arrested and taken to the jail in Farmington.

During a videoconference appearance with Judge Nancy Carlson from the jail, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins recommended that the court set bail at $50,000, because of the “nature of the crimes that have been committed.”

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office charged Cook with assault on an officer, escape and strong-arm robbery, all felonies.

The Wilton Police Department charged Cook with robbery, burglary, assault, obstructing the report of a crime, theft and eluding a police officer. The robbery and burglary charges are felonies.

The Maine State Police charged Cook with criminal speeding, eluding an officer, reckless conduct, driving to endanger and operating after suspension.


“He invaded a woman’s home by forcing his way through the front door,” Robbins said. “He damaged two doors in the process of entering the house. He assaulted the woman in her home before she gave him the keys to her vehicle. He led police on a high-speed chase, traveling at speeds of over 110 miles per hour, which resulted in an accident where he was miraculously not seriously injured.”

Robbins said Cook was an “incredible danger to the community,” and that bail should be set high not only to prevent a threat to public safety, but to “ensure that he returns to court.”

“The very nature of escape shows that he’s not willing to participate in the judicial process willingly,” he said.

Defense attorney Luann Calcagni recommended that bail be set at $10,000 cash, with third-party posting permitted, because that would be “significantly high enough to meet the purposes of the bail code, and meet concerns of the district attorney in regards to the nature of the charges and allegations.”

Robbins countered that no third-party bail should be allowed “because of the escape allegation, and the seriousness of the crimes.”

Carlson said, “There is no doubt that these are very serious charges,” and that she needed to think about the community’s safety.


“Under the circumstances, I’m going to set bail at $40,000 cash, with no third-party bail and no surety bonds,” Carlson said.

According to a news release by Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr., Sheriff’s Cpl. Phil Richards was transporting three inmates from the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn to the Farmington jail Tuesday. While the van was on Route 133 in Wilton, Cook, wearing leg irons, slipped off one of his handcuffs and used the open handcuff ratchet to open the side door.

Lt. Detective David A. St. Laurent of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said in an affidavit that Richards caught Cook just off the road, where they fought for several minutes.

“Cook shoved (Richards) and slammed him into the van, where he was able to grab the handcuff key from Richards’ belt,” St. Laurent said in the affidavit. “After several minutes of fighting, Richards was able to get inmate Cook in the van, but couldn’t get the handcuffs on him, or get the handcuff key from Cook.”

Richards tried to use Mace on Cook, but Cook kicked him to the ground and fled down the road, St. Laurent said.

Cook ran to a house — still wearing leg irons — and “forced his way into the residence by kicking the door open where the startled female homeowner tried to call police,” the sheriff said in his news release. Cook assaulted her to keep her from making that call and forced her to give him the keys to her 2004 Jeep Cherokee.

Cook led officers from the Wilton and Farmington police departments, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and the Maine State Police on a chase through Chesterville, where he lost control of the Jeep and crashed it into a tree.

St. Laurent said Richards was taken to Franklin Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for a wound to his left hand, and complaints of back and leg pain.

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