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Crime

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Safe Injection Site Commission Acknowledges Political Difficulties

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 5:58 PM

Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George at a press conference Wednesday - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George at a press conference Wednesday
Chittenden County officials on Wednesday launched an initiative to study the creation of safe drug injection sites by acknowledging the resistance the idea could face.

State's Attorney Sarah George, who created the study commission, urged skeptics to keep an open mind, and stressed that current, less controversial practices have left hundreds of Vermonters struggling with addiction.

"They don't want to be committing crimes; they want to be reliable and trustworthy," George said.

She hopes the commission makes a recommendation in the next few months on whether the county should open an injection site where street drug users would have medical supervision and be exempt from arrest, she said.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

ICE Arrests Immigrant Worker Outside Burlington Courthouse

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 4:35 PM

Cesar Alex Carrillo, left, with his young daughter and wife, leading a 2016 march to urge the release of a migrant worker. - COURTESY: MIGRANT JUSTICE
  • Courtesy: Migrant Justice
  • Cesar Alex Carrillo, left, with his young daughter and wife, leading a 2016 march to urge the release of a migrant worker.
Immigration agents arrested a veteran Vermont dairy worker from Mexico on Wednesday outside a Burlington courthouse as he headed to a hearing for a driving under the influence arrest, according to a human rights organization.

Cesar Alex Carrillo, 23, faces deportation after his arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers outside the Edward J. Costello Courthouse, according to Migrant Justice, a Vermont-based group led by immigrant dairy farmworkers.

Carrillo is married to a U.S. citizen who is pregnant with their second child, according to Migrant Justice.

"When they arrested Alex, they took away a father, a husband, a human being," his wife, Lymarie Deida, said in a statement released by the group. Deida and Carrillo have a 4-year old daughter.

During the hearing that brought Carrillo to the courthouse, prosecutors dismissed a DUI charge stemming from a 2016 arrest, though he was not present, Migrant Justice said.

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Chittenden Prosecutor Creates Commission to Study Safe Injection Sites

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 1:45 PM

Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George - COURTESY: GOV. PHIL SCOTT'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy: Gov. Phil Scott's office
  • Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George
Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George is creating a commission to study whether the county should allow so-called safe injection sites, where street drug users would have medical supervision and would be exempt from arrest.

George said she is not taking a formal position on the idea but wants an "open and honest discussion" about whether the sites could help in the fight against opiate abuse.

While George did not provide details, the sites generally allow users to inject drugs that they purchased illegally — without fear of prosecution. Rep. Selene Colburn (P/D-Burlington) introduced a bill earlier this year that would legalize such sites in Vermont.

"People in our community are committing countless crimes, losing their jobs, losing custody of their children and even dying because of this disease," George said in a prepared statement. "I have an obligation to examine all potential solutions that could reduce overdoses and deaths and keep our community safe."

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Vermont Supreme Court Hears Ku Klux Klan Flier Case

Posted By on Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 2:27 PM

Deputy Chittenden County State's Attorney Aimee Griffin argues before the Vermont Supreme Court.
  • Deputy Chittenden County State's Attorney Aimee Griffin argues before the Vermont Supreme Court.
A Ku Klux Klan member convicted of a crime after distributing his organization's recruitment fliers at the homes of two minority women in Burlington was exercising his free speech rights, his attorneys argued before the Vermont Supreme Court on Wednesday.

William D. Schenk pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct in April 2016, but his attorneys always insisted they would appeal a judge's decision not to throw out the charges on First Amendment grounds.

"It is not a crime to peacefully distribute a flier to join a group," Rebecca Turner, supervising attorney from the Appellate Division of the Defender General's Office, told justices. "The message is not indicating violence is imminent, or threatening to these individuals."

Deputy Chittenden County State's Attorney Aimee Griffin argued that even if the literal message of the fliers was recruitment, Schenk was obviously targeting the women for other purposes.

"This is not a case about suppressing a defendant's free speech rights. He specifically targeted two women of color at their homes," Griffin said. "This flier in context is much different than … leafleting. This is targeting."

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Prosecutors to Drop 16 Cases After Burlington Cop 'Lied' About Stop

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 2:29 PM

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo and Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo and Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George
Updated on February 24, 2017.

Prosecutors will drop 16 pending criminal cases investigated by a Burlington police officer who resigned Monday after allegedly lying during a drug investigation. Authorities on Thursday said they are still considering whether to charge Christopher Lopez with perjury.

Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George told reporters that Lopez — who allegedly made up a justification to search a vehicle in October — could no longer be a reliable witness.

"He lied," George said during a Thursday afternoon press conference in City Hall Park.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Burlington Cop Resigns After Perjury Allegation in Drug Case

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 4:57 PM

OLIVER PARINI
  • Oliver parini
A Burlington police officer who allegedly committed perjury during a drug investigation has resigned, the Burlington Police Department announced Wednesday.

In a letter to the Burlington Police Department, Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George said that patrol officer Christopher Lopez had made "patently false" statements in a sworn affidavit in October and would no longer be used as a witness by local prosecutors.

Officials said that Lopez falsely claimed that he smelled marijuana to justify a vehicle search that led to an arrest. The damning evidence came from the officer's own body camera audio, on which he can allegedly be heard conceding to another officer that he had made up the story.

Lopez, who joined the Burlington Police Department in September 2014, was placed on paid leave earlier this month. He resigned on Monday in advance of a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday, police said. Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said he planned to fire Lopez at that hearing.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Vermont Health Department: 2016 Was a Record Year for Opiate Deaths

Posted By on Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 4:45 PM

DIANE SULLIVAN
  • Diane Sullivan
More people died of opiate overdoses in Vermont in 2016 than any other year, according to a Vermont Department of Health report released Wednesday.

The preliminary report shows that 105 people died from opiate overdoses, up from 75 in 2015. The finding, revealed by Barbara Cimaglio, deputy health commissioner, on Vermont Public Radio's "Vermont Edition" on Wednesday, confirmed Seven Days' recent report that opiates claimed a record number of Vermonters last year.

Cimaglio said that overdoses on prescription drugs such as oxycodone fell in 2016, continuing a recent trend. But heroin, which has widely varying levels of potency, and fentanyl, an opiate that can be 50 times as potent as heroin, are killing more people than ever before.

Fentanyl, a prescription drug that is also manufactured illicitly, was involved in 50 overdoses in 2016 — up from 29 in 2015 and 18 in 2014.

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Friday, February 3, 2017

McAllister Says Lawyers Pressured Him Into Taking Plea Agreement

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2017 at 8:05 PM

Norm McAllister in court in January - FILE: POOL PHOTO/GREGORY J. LAMOUREUX/COUNTY COURIER
  • File: Pool Photo/Gregory J. Lamoureux/County Courier
  • Norm McAllister in court in January
Norm McAllister testified Friday that his former lawyers pressured and "browbeat" him into accepting a plea deal from which he now hopes to withdraw.

One of those lawyers strongly denied that allegation during a session in Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans that went on for two and a half hours without resolution.

As the court was closing for the day, Judge Martin Maley ordered the proceeding to be continued. No date was immediately set.

McAllister, a former state senator, last month pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of prohibited acts and one felony charge of lewd and lascivious conduct, which had been reduced from a sexual assault charge. Under the deal, he could have served up to seven years in prison, compared to a possible maximum life sentence on the original sexual assault charge.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

McAllister’s Former Lawyers Subpoenaed for His Plea Hearing

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 9:17 PM

Norm McAllister (left) listening in court with attorney Brooks McArthur during his first trial, in June - FILE: POOL PHOTO/GREGORY J. LAMOUREUX/COUNTY COURIER
  • File: Pool Photo/Gregory J. Lamoureux/County Courier
  • Norm McAllister (left) listening in court with attorney Brooks McArthur during his first trial, in June
Burlington lawyers Brooks McArthur and David Williams have been subpoenaed to appear in court Friday when their former client, Norm McAllister, attempts to withdraw from a plea agreement.

“It wasn’t an invitation,” McArthur noted in an interview with Seven Days. He also said, “I don’t know if we’ll actually have to testify but I have to be there. It’s no longer my decision whether or not I can be there; it’s a court order.”

McAllister, a former Republican state senator from Franklin County, agreed to a plea deal on January 10 while McArthur and Williams were representing him.

Under the agreement, McAllister pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of prohibited acts and one felony lewd and lascivious charge that could carry up to seven years in prison. That charge was reduced from sexual assault.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Burlington Police Report That Officers Use Force Less Frequently

Posted By on Thu, Jan 26, 2017 at 2:16 PM

Burlington police crime analyst Eric Fowler presents a use-of-force study in the Fletcher Free Library. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Burlington police crime analyst Eric Fowler presents a use-of-force study in the Fletcher Free Library.
Burlington police officers have used force against suspects less often in recent years, according to a study the police released Wednesday.

But they may be disproportionately targeting minorities, it says.

In 2016, 21 percent of arrestees were not white, and 24 percent of the people that police used force against were not white.

Those figures have held relatively steady since 2012, according to the report. Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said the gap is "relatively small," and "may not be statistically significant."

But department officials acknowledge one worrisome statistic: Nonwhites in Burlington were 37 percent more likely to have a firearm pointed at them than whites, according to the department's analysis of six years worth of data documenting when officers use or threaten to use force.

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