AUBURN — Author and historian Ron Chase will detail one of the largest bank robberies in Maine at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 19, in the Androscoggin Community Room at the Auburn Public Library, 49 Spring St.

On Nov. 12, 1971, Bernard Patterson, a highly decorated Vietnam War hero, robbed the Northern National Bank in Mars Hill. He escaped with $110,000, the largest bank robbery in the state at the time.

Chase recently released “The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery,” which chronicles Patterson’s story.

The book details Patterson’s adventure-filled controversial life that led him across the U.S., Europe and North Africa before he was finally captured by Scotland Yard on the Isle of Jersey after spending most of the money. Along the way, he lived a raucous life of wine and women while hobnobbing in aristocratic hangouts and giving money to those he perceived to be in need. He motorbiked across Europe, hoodwinked border officials, bought a camel and got lost in the Sahara Desert.

After he returned to the U.S. for prosecution, he was convicted and imprisoned. After he was released several years later, he moved back to northern Maine where he continued to lead a reckless life that included running a “pot farm” until he died at age 56 in 2003.


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