Law Enforcement

Friday, February 24, 2017

Graphic Tape Played in Court as McAllister Tries to Toss Plea Deal

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 7:25 PM

  • File: Pool Photo/Gregory J. Lamoureux/County Courier
  • Norm McAllister in court in January
Former state senator Norm McAllister showed no emotion in court Friday as prosecutors played a graphic tape of a telephone conversation between him and his alleged victim in a sex-for-rent case.

During the 30-minute recording, the woman, a former farmhand at his Highgate dairy farm, sobs as she recounts a painful encounter with McAllister involving anal sex and another sex act. She asks him to agree not to seek that kind of sex from her in the future.

"I know I was basically forcing you to do something you didn't want to do," McAllister allegedly tells the woman at one point in the recorded conversation.

Prosecutors played the recording at Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans as McAllister's new legal team attempted to convince Judge Martin Maley to vacate a plea deal the former lawmaker agreed to last month in the sex case.

McAllister said his then-lawyers pressured him into accepting the deal, under which he pleaded no contest to two counts of prohibited acts and a felony lewd and lascivious charge, which prosecutors agreed to reduce from sexual assault. The lewd and lascivious charge carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison, while a sex assault conviction carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

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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
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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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Vermonters Visit Muslim Canadian Family Turned Back at Border

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 3:31 PM

Fadwa Alaoui, in red, with her husband, Hamid Adlaoui, in their home in Brossard - COURTESY OF ANDY SOLOMON
  • Courtesy of Andy Solomon
  • Fadwa Alaoui, in red, with her husband, Hamid Adlaoui, in their home in Brossard
Richmond neurologist Andy Solomon and his family had participated in marches in Washington, D.C. and Montpelier, called their elected officials, and tried to find as many ways as possible in recent weeks to protest President Donald Trump's administration.

They were contemplating what to do next when Solomon saw a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that left him aghast.

Fadwa Alaoui, a Moroccan-born Canadian citizen who is Muslim, her two children and an adult cousin were turned away at the border last week as they tried to go on a shopping trip to Burlington. Alaoui's parents live in Chicago, and she'd visited the U.S. on several occasions previously. But American border guards inspected her cellphone, quizzed her about Trump and her faith — and then wouldn't allow her in the country after waiting four hours to enter Highgate Springs, she told the CBC.

"He said, 'Do you practice? Which mosque do you go to?" she told the news outlet. "What is the name of the imam? How often do you go to the mosque? What kind of discussions do you hear in the mosque? Does the imam talk to you directly?'"

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Scott Administration Opposes Vermont Marijuana Legalization Bill

Posted By on Thu, Feb 9, 2017 at 6:13 PM

Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson, right,  taking his oath of office in January - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson, right, taking his oath of office in January
Updated at 12:45 p.m., February 10, 2017, with a statement from Rebecca Kelley.

Gov. Phil Scott’s administration came out Thursday firmly against a marijuana legalization bill that has sparked interest in the House.

“We oppose this bill,” Vermont State Police Major Glenn Hall told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday morning.

“We,” as it turns out, extends beyond the state police to the governor and his administration.

“We speak with one voice,” said Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson. “That’s what the governor stands for also.”

Hall's comments represent a shift from Scott's own. The newly elected Republican governor has not embraced legalization, but he hasn’t explicitly come out against it either.

Last week, Scott said, "I didn't say, 'Never.' I said, 'Not now,'" adding that he'd prefer legislators focus on economic issues. He also said that highway safety and protecting youths remain concerns.

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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
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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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Vermont Senate to Consider Bill Defying Trump’s Immigration Order

Posted By on Tue, Feb 7, 2017 at 4:07 PM

Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington), left, and Sen. Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington), left, and Sen. Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden)
The Vermont Senate will likely vote next week on a bill declaring that Vermont police agencies won’t enforce President Donald Trump’s immigration order, a key lawmaker said Tuesday.

“We’re not going to use local law enforcement or state law enforcement to carry out the president’s order on immigration,” said Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Sears (D-Bennington). “There’s a worry that Vermont police would be asked to enforce immigration law,” he added.

The president’s executive order, currently lifted as it is contested in court, halted the inflow into the United States of refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. Such an order mostly involves federal agencies, but Vermont officials fear the feds could rope in local police agencies to enforce the immigration decree.

Sears said legislators are working with Gov. Phil Scott and Attorney General T.J. Donovan to craft the legislation, which emerged from a civil rights panel that Scott appointed last month.

Sears said his committee would start debating the still-being-written bill Thursday morning and the full Senate could vote next week. The House is also expected to act on the bill.

Sears said he’s not concerned that Vermont could face financial consequences if the president threatens federal funding because other states, including California, are working on similar efforts.

“Are they really going to say, ‘We’re going to pull all federal funding from California if you don’t do this?’” he said. “I think the states banding together have a certain amount of power.”

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Walters: Scott to Propose Bill Countering Trump Immigration Order

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2017 at 8:14 PM

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, Gov. Phil Scott and Attorney General T.J. Donovan on Friday outside the governor’s office - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, Gov. Phil Scott and Attorney General T.J. Donovan on Friday outside the governor’s office
Gov. Phil Scott said Friday that he will unveil legislation next week responding to President Donald Trump’s executive order halting refugee resettlement and banning immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries.

Vermont’s Republican governor made the announcement following the first meeting of his Civil Rights and Criminal Justice Cabinet, formed this week in the aftermath of the Trump’s edict. (One false note: While the cabinet's membership is somewhat diverse, all those who spoke to the media outside the governor’s Montpelier office were white men.)

Scott focused on one aspect of Trump’s order: a request that state and local authorities take part in immigration and border security efforts. The governor called that “a bit of an overreach” by the federal government. He has said that he would not agree to the request, and he doesn’t want local officials to deal separately with the feds.

“We are going to continue to work over the weekend on language that we will have introduced next week,” Scott said. His office said the bill would specify that only the governor can enter into such agreements on behalf of the state.

Further response to the Trump orders would have to occur within the narrow bounds of state authority, he added.

“That’s what this cabinet is trying to come to grips with,” Scott said. “What can we do to alleviate the fears of those who are here in the state while protecting our constitutional rights from the overreach of the federal government?”

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Vermont U.S. Attorney Eric Miller Announces His Resignation

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2017 at 10:51 AM

U.S. Attorney Eric Miller (center) - FILE: MARK DAVIS
  • FIle: Mark Davis
  • U.S. Attorney Eric Miller (center)
Vermont's United States attorney, Eric Miller, has resigned from the post effective February 10, his office announced in a news release Friday morning.

Miller was a holdover from former president Barack Obama's tenure and was likely to be replaced by President Donald Trump. The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Miller in 2015 after Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) recommended him for the position.

"Serving as Vermont's United States Attorney has been the highest honor of my career, and I am grateful for the trust placed in me by President Obama, Senator Leahy and the people of Vermont," Miller said in a statement.

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Walters: Trump Orders Send Vermont Officials Scrambling

Posted By on Sun, Jan 29, 2017 at 9:44 PM

Gov. Phil Scott swearing the oath of office - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Gov. Phil Scott swearing the oath of office
Vermont’s top officials this weekend rebuffed an executive order issued Friday by President Donald Trump banning citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott spent part of the weekend in “a series of meetings” on the subject, according to spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley, “and will be detailing specific actions” on Monday.

In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Scott praised Vermont’s immigrant heritage, from the Europeans of the 19th and 20th centuries to “the Somali, Vietnamese, Bosnian and Bhutanese families” of more recent vintage.

“I’m going to do everything I can to protect the rights of all Vermonters and the human rights of all people,” Scott said. “That includes standing up to executive orders from Washington that cross legal, ethical and moral lines that have distinguished America from the rest of the world for generations.”

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