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Witness, police work led to arrest of musician in holdup

Held on drug, robbery charges

ATTLEBORO ROBBERY The pharmacist felt that Michael R. Todd would have harmed her or her co-workers if she did not give him drugs. ATTLEBORO ROBBERY
The pharmacist felt that Michael R. Todd would have harmed her or her co-workers if she did not give him drugs.
By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / July 12, 2011

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ATTLEBORO - Bassist Michael R. Todd arrived in Massachusetts on a luxury tour bus as part of a four-man band known for a progressive pop and punk-laced rock sound, but hours before their scheduled performance Sunday night at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, he held up a local pharmacy, using his cellphone to threaten the staff, prosecutors say.

As other members of the band Coheed and Cambria walked on stage to the cheers of thousands of fans, Todd was being booked and processed.

Authorities say he robbed a Walgreens here of six bottles of the potent painkiller oxycodone. Todd allegedly walked into the store at Pleasant Street and Starkey Avenue in Attleboro and demanded that the pharmacist give him OxyContin, in which oxycodone is the main active ingredient.

According to court records, the 30-year-old from New York showed the pharmacist a note on the screen of his smartphone that said that he had a bomb and wanted her to give him the narcotic.

His New York-based band, the warm-up act for Soundgarden during their one-month reunion tour, has moved on, Todd’s spot filled by Wes Styles.

Todd was arraigned on armed robbery and drug possession charges in Attleboro District Court. He scanned the crowd several times during the arraignment, but did not appear to recognize anyone sitting in the courtroom.

Todd’s attorney, Sandra Ferreira, entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf. Todd was ordered held on $25,000 cash bail and faces a preliminary hearing on Aug. 9.

Ferreira told judge Dan O’Shea that she spoke with Todd’s father by phone hours earlier.

“He told me he would help his son through this difficult time in his life,’’ she said.

Todd lives with his parents in New York and has many relatives living on Cape Cod, she said.

The robbery allegedly occurred at 12:55 p.m. The pharmacist told him she did not have any OxyContin. Todd allegedly responded, “I’ll take your Perc 30s,’’ apparently referring to 30-milligram pills of Percocet, according to authorities.

After she handed Todd several bottles of oxycodone, he fled. The pharmacist said she felt that Todd would have harmed her or her co-workers, one of whom is pregnant, if she did not give him the drugs, according to the documents.

Mark Donovan, assistant Bristol district attorney, told O’Shea that Todd was convicted of drug possession in 2004 in Florida and has recent convictions for operating under the influence in New York. Donovan sought $100,000 cash bail.

Todd allegedly fled the store and caught a taxi to the tour bus parked alongside the Comcast Center in Mansfield. His band was scheduled to go on stage at 7:30 p.m.

Four police officers arrived at the Walgreens, interviewed the pharmacist, and scoured the area around the store.

One officer noticed a freshly matted path through tall grass behind the building and followed it.

A witness then approached the officer and told him that he had just observed a man run from behind the building and jump into a dark brown minivan taxi.

Police were able to discover the name of the taxi company and found that a fare picked up at Pleasant Street and Perry Avenue was dropped off at the tour bus. Todd was found on the bus and arrested.

According to court records, he initially denied playing any role in the robbery, but when confronted with evidence from a surveillance video, he admitted to the crime.

After performing without Todd Sunday night, Coheed and Cambria issued a statement on its website.

“Michael Todd was arrested today on what we consider very serious charges and therefore he will not be finishing up the current tour,’’ the statement said. “Wes Styles, longtime member of the Coheed family, will take on bass duties starting tomorrow for the remaining dates. No shows will be canceled.’’

In addition to the remaining dates on Soundgarden’s reunion tour, which started July 2 and will run until July 30, Coheed and Cambria are also scheduled to perform in Rio de Janeiro in September and in Mexico City in October.

Coheed and Cambria formed in 1995. Todd joined a year later and was a member until 2006. He rejoined the band in 2007.

Brian R. Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com. Follow him on twitter at @globeballou.