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16 Arrested on Drug Charges in Brattleboro VT Area

Brattleboro VT = On April 16, 2019, the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional law enforcement effort that focused on drug trafficking in the area of Brattleboro, Vermont.  During the three-day operation conducted last week by federal, state, local, and county officers, and federal and state prosecutors, law enforcement arrested or charged 16 individuals, searched 3 residences and 1 hotel room, and seized approximately 1,000 bags of heroin and 70 grams of cocaine base.  Twelve individuals have been charged in federal court with participating in drug trafficking crimes.  Two have been charged in state court with drug possession crimes.

Those charged in federal court include:

  • Curtis Bunkley, 29, of Brattleboro, charged with distribution of cocaine base, distribution of fentanyl, and possession with intent to distribute heroin.
  • Sarah Cassell, 32, of Brattleboro, charged with distribution of heroin and cocaine base.
  • Arthur Fisk, 28, of Brattleboro, charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base.
  • Daniel DeThomas, 37, of Hartford, Connecticut, charged with distribution of cocaine base.
  • Luis Duprey, 24, of Holyoke, Massachusetts, charged with using a communication facility to facilitate the commission of a drug felony arising from his attempt to distribute 500 bags of heroin.
  • Rachael Gauthier, 49, of Brattleboro, charged with distribution of heroin and fentanyl.
  • Rory Jackson, 35, of Queens, New York, charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine base.
  • Holly Magnuson, 25, of Brattleboro, charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base.
  • Robert Newton, 49, of Brattleboro, charged with distribution of heroin.
  • Jocelyn Pond, 29, of Brattleboro, charged with distribution of fentanyl.
  • Justine Pond, 29, of Brattleboro, charged with distribution of fentanyl.
  • Jaylen Pryor, 18, of Brattleboro, charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base.

Those charged in state court include:

  • Corey Archer, 38, of Brattleboro, Vermont, charged with cocaine possession.
  • Lee Griffin, 36, of Brattleboro, Vermont, charged with cocaine possession.

Defendants Cassell and Newton are currently fugitives.  All other defendants were arrested during the operation.

The charges against the defendants are only allegations.  The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This operation stemmed from careful planning and collaboration by Vermont law enforcement at all levels.  The enforcement surge involved the participation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the United States Marshals Service; the Brattleboro Police Department; the Vermont Drug Task Force; the Vermont State Police; CBP Air/Marine Unit; and New Hampshire Drug Task Force.  Crucial support was provided by the Office of the Windham County State’s Attorney; the Vermont Attorney General’s Office; and the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan stated:  “Vermont lost 110 lives to drug overdose death last year, and the County with the most of those deaths was Windham County.  This is an unacceptable tragedy.   There is suffering from the drug crisis in every corner of Vermont, not least of all Brattleboro, in light of its geographic proximity to dealers based in the Springfield, Massachusetts area.  This coordinated operation exemplifies the teamwork of Vermont law enforcement and our collective determination to deter and bring consequences to local and out-of-state dealers who ravage our communities.  We will continue to surge federal, state, local, and county enforcement resources across the state to bring justice to those who profit from death and immense suffering.  I commend this outstanding collaborative effort involving so many agencies and prosecutors’ offices.”

“Fentanyl and heroin abuse are at epidemic levels in Vermont and across the North East,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle.  “DEA is committed to aggressively pursuing Drug Trafficking Organizations or individuals who are coming from out of state to distribute these poisons, in order to profit and destroy people’s lives.  This investigation demonstrates the strength of collaborative local, county, state and federal law enforcement efforts in Vermont and our strong partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

“Operations like this demonstrate the critically important results that can be achieved through close coordination among state, local and federal law enforcement in Vermont,” said Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent In Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Boston.  “Homeland Security Investigations is committed to maintaining our strong working relationship with our state, local and federal law enforcement colleagues in addressing the threats to public safety in the state of Vermont.”

“The operation was a large scale event with significant results directly connected to the strong partnerships that exist among our local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.  As made evident by this event, the criminal element has no boundaries.   This operation is a testament to our commitment to pursue and disrupt illegal activity in innovative and effective ways throughout Vermont,” stated U.S. Marshal Bradley J. LaRose.

“Effective coordination between federal, state, and local agencies is essential for us to identify and disrupt drug trafficking organizations,” said James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Together, our agencies prevented 70 grams of crack cocaine and nearly 1,000 bags of heroin from being sold on our streets. The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, is committed to investigating and bringing justice to the individuals arrested in this operation. Anyone who harms our communities with their drug dealing should know we’re coming for you.”

“The success of this initiative is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all the law enforcement professionals in the region working in a truly collaborative fashion,” said Kelly D. Brady, Special Agent-in-Charge of ATF’s Boston Field Division. “We could not ask for a better group of professionals to work with toward the shared goal of reducing violent crime in the City of Brattleboro and throughout Vermont.”

“Resources from federal and state agencies combined with local law enforcement’s knowledge of the activities and needs of their community make a formidable team when conducting drug interdiction operations,” stated Brattleboro Police Chief Michael Fitzgerald. “Integrating multiple agencies in the execution of an operation requires extensive planning, coordination and cooperation. For us to be successful, we need to work together and take advantage of each other’s unique set of skills. This cooperation proved invaluable to the overall success of the most recent operation in Brattleboro. I would like to thank all the agencies which participated in the recent drug interdiction operation in Brattleboro. I would especially like to thank U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan and the members of her team who worked tirelessly over the past several months in coordinating this effort.”

Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Thomas D. Anderson stated:  “Vermont has done a tremendous job in making opioid treatment available to anyone who wishes to get treatment. Unfortunately, as these arrests demonstrate, there continues to be a demand for illegal opioids throughout Vermont.  One of the most important tactics in fighting Vermont’s opioid epidemic is reducing the supply of this deadly poison by taking dealers off our streets and holding them accountable. This month in Brattleboro, which has one of the highest rates of overdose deaths in the state, the Vermont Drug Task Force worked in close collaboration with local and federal law-enforcement partners to make numerous arrests that targeted the trafficking and sale of these illegal drugs. Our message must be clear: Stop selling, get into treatment, or get arrested.  Our efforts to reduce the supply of drugs and the risk of overdose, and to bring offenders to justice, will continue.”

The Vermont Assistant U.S. Attorneys assisting in the operation and subsequent prosecutions are AUSAs John Boscia; Nate Burris; First Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Doyle; and Deputy Criminal Chief Jonathan Ophardt.  Defendant Bunkley is represented by Chris Davis, Esq.  Defendant Duprey is represented by the Office of the Federal Public Defender.  Defendant Arthur Fisk is represented by Maryanne E. Kampmann, Esq.  Defendant Gauthier is represented by David Watts, Esq.  Defendant Jackson is represented by Richard Bothfeld, Esq.  Defendant Magnuson is represented by Mary Kehoe, Esq.  Defendant Justine Pond is represented by Thomas Sherrer, Esq.  Defendant Jocelyn Pond is represented by Katina Ready, Esq.  Defendant Jaylen Pryor is represented by the Office of the Federal Public Defender.

Free Outdoor Adventure Talk: Early Season Tactics for Landlocked Salmon Success

CONCORD, NH – Learn how to fly fish for landlocked salmon at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, 11 Hazen Drive, in Concord, NH.

Landlocked salmon fishing is a much-lauded tradition among Granite State anglers, made even more challenging when the quest begins on the fly. Flies and fly fishing have been the go-to tactic for early season salmon success, and New Hampshire Fish and Game’s Let’s Go Fishing instructor Scott Biron will share his insight on rigging fly line, fly selection for select salmon lakes, and how to fish with these types of flies. Biron will examine both traditional and contemporary patterns that are proven to catch salmon. Learn trolling techniques and strategies and develop an understanding of New Hampshire’s big lakes, their unique personalities, and how these factors influence salmon success.

Scott Biron learned to fly fish and tie flies in the North County of New Hampshire. Biron is an active and passionate fly tying and Lets Go Fishing instructor for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and is popular draw for people interested in fly tying instruction at regional outdoor shows. Biron has an academic’s mastery of historical New Hampshire’s fly tiers and their lost patterns. Biron is also a member of the Catskill Fly Tiers Guild, an Ambassador for the American Fly Fishing Museum, and a frequent contributor to the New Hampshire Wildlife Journal.

Shaheen Introduces Legislation to Simplify and Decrease the Costs of Tax Preparation and Filing

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) helped to reintroduce the Tax Filing Simplification Act with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to ease the tax filing process for millions of American taxpayers and reduce their costs. Last tax season, American taxpayers spent an average of 11 hours and nearly $200 preparing their tax returns – a cost equal to almost 10 percent of the average federal tax refund.

“As millions of Americans file their taxes, we’re reminded that too many people struggle to navigate an exceptionally burdensome tax system. Paying taxes doesn’t have to be this complicated,” said Senator Shaheen. “The average American will pay $200 and spend 11 hours to prepare their tax return — money and time they will never get back. While Congressional Republicans promised and failed to simplify the tax system in the tax bill they rushed through Congress, this common-sense legislation will help make the process simpler and cheaper. This bill would positively impact hardworking, taxpaying Americans in every community throughout the country — I urge members on both sides of the aisle to join in support of this effort.”

Along with lowering costs and eliminating red tape for all taxpayers, return-free filing and other improvements in the Tax Filing Simplification Act would ensure that more eligible people — including millions of low-income Americans — receive important tax refunds, like the Earned Income Tax Credit. The legislation would dramatically simplify the filing process for individuals with simple tax situations, direct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to develop a free, online tax preparation and filing service that does not require the sharing of private information with third parties, and prohibit the IRS from entering into agreements that restrict its ability to provide these services.

The Tax Filing Simplification Act makes several commonsense changes to simplify and decrease the costs of the tax filing process for millions of American taxpayers by:

  • Prohibiting the IRS from entering into agreements that restrict its ability to provide free online tax preparation or filing services;
  • Directing the IRS to develop a free, online tax preparation and filing service that would allow all taxpayers to prepare and file their taxes directly with the federal government instead of requiring that they share private information with third parties;
  • Enhancing taxpayer data access by allowing all taxpayers to download third-party-provided tax information that the IRS already has into a software program of their choice;
  • Allowing eligible taxpayers with simple tax situations to choose a new return-free option, which would provide a pre-prepared tax return with income tax liability or refund amount already calculated;
  • Mandating that these data and filing options be made available through a secure online function and requires any participating individual to verify his or her identity before accessing tax data; and
  • Reducing tax fraud by getting third-party income information to the IRS earlier in the tax season, allowing the agency to cross-check this information before issuing refunds.

First introduced in 2016 and reintroduced in 2017, this approach to tax filing has been endorsed by tax scholars and a bipartisan set of policymakers. The bill is endorsed by the National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients), the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, Americans for Tax Fairness, Economic Security Project Action, the Hispanic Federation, Americans for Financial Reform, and Public Citizen.

Senator Shaheen has supported measures to simplify the current tax system and ease the tax burden on working middle class families. Last week, she introduced the Working Families Tax Relief Act, which would expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) – two of the most effective tools we have to put money back in the pockets of working people and help pull children out of poverty.

Colby-Sawyer to Aid in Transfer of RN to BS Students from SVC

New London NH -Colby-Sawyer College and Southern Vermont College (SVC) have reached an agreement that will allow qualified students in SVC’s online RN to BS nursing program to complete their bachelor’s degree as students in Colby-Sawyer’s online RN to BS nursing program. Southern Vermont announced last month that it will close at the end of this academic year.

“The quality and rigor of the RN to BS nursing programs at our institutions enabled this partnership that will allow SVC students to continue their educations with minimal disruption in light of the unfortunate announcement of Southern Vermont College’s closure,” said Vice President for Admissions and Financial Aid Anna Miner. “We welcome SVC students to the Colby-Sawyer community.”

Colby-Sawyer will waive the 90-credit limit on transfer credit in order to help SVC students stay on schedule. It will also honor all SVC undergraduate degree core courses that meet Colby-Sawyer’s academic standards and as many additional courses as possible.

SVC students wishing to complete their education at Colby-Sawyer will inform SVC and work with administrators there to begin the process of enrolling at Colby-Sawyer.

Newport NH Man Charged After Shooting Off Gun and Striking Two-Year-Old

Newport NH – The Newport Police Department Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call at 11:27 P.M on April 14th. from the residents of 147 Laurel Street, apartment B advising that their two year old daughter had been shot through the floor from the downstairs apartment, apartment A. The Newport Police and Newport Ambulance Service responded and found that the two year old girl had been lying on the floor and had sustained a gunshot injury to her right leg. Subsequently , the two year old was transported from the scene by the Newport Ambulance to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. The name of the child is not being released.

The investigation revealed that a single shot had come from the first floor residence, Apartment A. The sole occupant of that residence was identified as Timothy E. Hale 51 of Newport NH.  

The investigation revealed that Hale had discharged a single 12 gauge shotgun round from his bedroom through his ceiling and into apartment B striking the two year old. Hale was taken into custody and has been charged with a class B Felony for Reckless Conduct with a deadly weapon. He will be arraigned later today at the Sullivan County Superior Court. The two year old girl is listed in stable condition and remains at DHMC.

 

 

 

 

Grantham Woman Arrested on Drug Charges

Lebanon NH -A 23-year-old Grantham woman is charged with felony possession and intent to sell cocaine and crack cocaine in Lebanon. Lebanon Police say on Wednesday afternoon two officers observed a suspicious vehicle parked on Hanover Street with several people inside.

Officers Emily Winslow and Tyler Hewes employed police K-9 Kymba who alerted officers to the presence of drugs.

Police arrested the driver Amy Guyette after finding 32 grams of cocaine and 6 grams of crack cocaine, $255 in cash and an electronic scale in a subsequent search.

Guyette was released on personal recognizance bail with a citation ordering her to appear on April 29th to answer the charges in Grafton County Superior Court

Senators Hassan and Collins Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Grandfamilies Affected by Substance Misuse and Other Trauma

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee, and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) today introduced the bipartisan Help Grandfamilies Prevent Child Abuse Act to better support kinship caregivers – the vast majority of whom are grandparents – who have taken over as primary caregivers for children exposed to substance misuse or other trauma.

A growing consequence of the opioid crisis is an increasing number of grandparents raising their grandchildren because the children’s parents overdosed or are absent due to substance use disorders. This bipartisan legislation would help address the unique challenges that face grandfamilies and all kinship families, including ensuring that these families are eligible for services under Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and providing support to meet the unique needs of children who have experienced trauma, including exposure to substance misuse.

“We must be there for the children whose parents have died or are absent because of their substance use disorder,” Senator Hassan said. “Largely due to the opioid epidemic, 2.6 million children are currently being raised by their grandparent – or other relatives or close family friends – without their parents in the home. This bipartisan bill will help ensure that these children get the care and support that they need to thrive.”

“As the opioid epidemic continues to devastate families across Maine, grandparents increasingly are being called on to become the primary caregivers of their grandchildren. Although this caretaker role can be a source of tremendous comfort and stability for families, it also presents several challenges,” Senator Collins said. “The Help Grandfamilies Prevent Child Abuse Act would provide grandparents access to important resources they need to help their grandchildren succeed.”

“In the midst of the opioid crisis, more and more grandparents and other older relatives are stepping in with little to no warning to raise children and keep them out of foster care,” said Jaia Lent, Deputy Executive Director at Generations United. “This legislation helps grandfamily caregivers access critical supports and services to help the children thrive.”

“It is estimated that more than 12,000 grandparents in New Hampshire are raising their grandchildren,” said MaryLou Beaver, Chair of the NH GrandFamilies Advisory Council. “The New Hampshire GrandFamilies Advisory Council has heard from a substantial number of Grandparent caregivers of a system that they find difficult to navigate, of not having anywhere to turn to help them find supportive services and resources, of the challenges of meeting the material needs of their grandchildren on limited incomes, and of children with mental and behavioral health issues that could not be addressed in a timely manner. It is imperative that grandfamilies have access to all the supports and services available inside and outside of the child welfare system to ensure that the children’s needs are met. We believe that Senator Hassan’s bill will address some of the unique challenges they face and will help these families to thrive.”

The Help Grandfamilies Prevent Child Abuse Act would:

–        Help to ensure that grandfamilies and all kinship families are eligible for services under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).

–        Provide additional support to these families to meet the unique needs of children who have experienced trauma, including being exposed to substance misuse.

–        Call for specialized training to help kinship caregivers navigate the complicated supports and services they may be eligible for.

Last year, Senator Collins introduced the bipartisan Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, which Senator Hassan cosponsored and the President signed into law. Earlier this year, Senator Hassan met with grandfamilies in New Hampshire who have been impacted by the opioid epidemic and discussed how to strengthen child abuse prevention laws to better address the impact that the substance misuse crisis is having on young people and families.

 

Local Groups Band Together To Get The Lead Out

Sullivan County, NH – Awareness of the health hazards caused by lead–especially lead-based paint–has grown in recent years.  But the lack of properly trained and certified contractors and workers remains an issue.  A partnership between Habitat for Humanity, the Sugar River Valley Regional Tech Center (SRVRTC) in Claremont, Sullivan County, Southwestern Community Services, and the Greater Sullivan County Public Health Network is hoping to change that.  Last month a 4-day training class was held at the Sullivan County complex in Unity that trained 10 students in lead hazard abatement.  Funding for the class was provided by the Department of Health and Human Services and supported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.  Receiving training were two instructors from the Tech Center, two people from Habitat for Humanity, local contractor Jon Nelson, of Concept Carpentry and five inmates from the Dept. of Corrections who participate in a work release program.

 

According to Don Derrick, Habitat for Humanity’s Claremont program manager, building capacity for lead abatement contractors and workers is key.  “We know lead paint is a problem in our communities because 84% of homes in this area were built before 1978, the year lead paint was banned.  People are becoming increasingly interested in having lead paint removed safely but the lack of qualified contractors and workers is a problem.”

 

Continuing to educate and raise awareness of the hazards associated with lead paint is another goal of the partnership.  Alex Herzog, Director of the Claremont SRVRTC, pointed out the importance of reaching students in his programs.  “We sent two instructors from The Tech so they can incorporate the knowledge they gained into the classroom.  Although we won’t train students on lead hazard abatement, we can definitely talk about it so they understand what to look for and why it must be handled by trained professionals.”  Michael Bennett, the Building Trades Instructor who attended, is eager to apply this information in his courses.  “It’s a serious problem but there are safe ways to remove lead hazards and protect people–especially children because they are most vulnerable to lead paint exposures.”  Bennett continued, “My students will gain valuable insight that will help them in their own careers–and maybe inspire them to pursue a career opportunity related to lead paint abatement.”

 

A final goal of the partnership is to connect inmates with job opportunities.  Dave Berry, Superintendent of Sullivan County Dept of Corrections, is excited about the potential this program has for offenders participating in the TRAILS program.  “Every time we connect an inmate with a career path that allows them to make a living wage, it benefits that offender as well as our community.  We are putting people back to work and providing trained lead workers for our community at the same time.”  Berry also noted how the timing of this initiative coincided with April which is the National Association of Counties “County Government Month.”  “This year’s theme is “connecting the unconnected” and it fits perfectly with what we are trying to do in terms of workforce development for our offender population to set them up for success upon release.”

 

For more information on this program, please contact Don Derrick at don.derrick@uppervalleyhabitat.org

 

NH Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald Announces National Crime Victims’ Week

Concord NH – Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald announces the 2019 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 7 -13, 2019. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the important victim-focused work provided by New Hampshire’s Office of Victim/Witness Assistance.

The Attorney General’s Office will join organizations and direct support agencies from across the state, including the Victims’ Compensation Program, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, the AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program, the College Consortium, and Victim’s Inc. in an effort to share information and available resources for victims of crime.

The Attorney General’s Office of Victim/Witness Assistance provides direct services and 24-hour a day support to victims in all of the state’s homicide cases, as well as to victims of elder abuse or financial exploitation. This office is also tasked with developing policies and training resources for professionals throughout the state working with victims of crime.

More information about the Office of Victim/Witness Assistance and other resources are available here: https://www.doj.nh.gov/criminal/victim-assistance/index.htm

 

Weather Cited as Cause of Tractor Trailer Crash in Hartford VT

Hartford VT – Troopers from the Royalton Barracks responded to a single vehicle crash involving a commercial motor vehicle, consisting of a tractor and trailer on Monday afternoon.  Upon arriving at the scene the tractor trailer unit was located in the median at a position indicating a loss of control.  The tractor was facing south bound in the north bound lane.  The trailer was almost touching the driver’s side of the tractor unit and the landing gear of the trailer had impacted and crushed the left side fuel tank.  A heavy wrecker company was contacted to remove the vehicle, which was able to be driven from the scene.  The interstate was reduced to one lane of travel during this time.  The roadway at the time of the crash was ice with standing sleet on the surface of the roadway and was determined to be a major factor in this crash, as with several other crashes in the area that were reported. The driver received no injuries but there was damage to the truck cab of tractor from impact with trailer and damage to left side fuel tank.