Law Enforcement

Friday, January 20, 2017

Montpeculiar: State’s Attorney by Week, Waitress by Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 2:41 PM

Gov. Phil Scott swears Sarah George in as Chittenden County state's attorney. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Gov. Phil Scott swears Sarah George in as Chittenden County state's attorney.
Sarah George, newly sworn in as the head prosecutor in Vermont’s largest county, said Friday that she likely will curtail her part-time weekend job as a waitress. But she probably won’t give it up entirely.

George, 33, of Monkton, has been working since she was in graduate school as a waitress at the tony Simon Pearce restaurant in Quechee,
 near where her parents live.

In 2013, George testified before a legislative committee that she needed the waitressing job to make ends meet. She told lawmakers that she earned more working part-time at Simon Pearce than the $42,490 she made as a deputy state’s attorney. She was speaking on behalf of an effort to unionize deputy state's attorneys.

Gov. Phil Scott swore George in as Chittenden County state’s attorney at noon Friday before a large gathering of family, colleagues and legislators who were ignoring the simultaneous presidential inauguration.

Scott appointed George after T.J. Donovan left the job to become Vermont’s attorney general in January. George had worked in Donovan’s office since 2011, her salary climbing to $59,509 last year.

The new title comes with a higher salary — Donovan’s was listed at $105,914 last year. So George might not need the Simon Pearce gig to pay the bills. But she said she plans to keep working tables, though perhaps not at the 20-hour-a-weekend pace she has been.

“I certainly won’t have to work there every weekend,” she said, but she noted there’s a payoff beyond the financial.

“I think being a waitress makes me a better lawyer,” she said. “Social skills, people skills and talking to people from all walks of life. I go down there and I meet hundreds of people on weekends who are coming from all over the country.”

George said she plans to run for the office when her term is up in 2018. She acknowledged that living in Monkton she’s not a resident of Chittenden County, which is not required for the job, but she said she’s shopping for land there.

Either way, it’s about an hour and half drive to Quechee.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Scott Appoints New Chittenden County State’s Attorney

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 5:20 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
Gov. Phil Scott on Thursday appointed Sarah George, a Chittenden County deputy state’s attorney, to her office's top job.

“I view the position of State’s Attorney to be a non-partisan role, best filled by someone with a strong moral compass,” George, who has served as a deputy prosecutor since 2011, said in a prepared statement. “That is how I will approach this position, as I work to speak for — and fight on behalf of — victims and the community.”

George replaces former Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan, who won election as Attorney General in November. George will serve the remaining two years of Donovan’s four year term. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and Vermont Law School.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Advocates Voice Concerns Over Burlington Policing Policy

Posted By on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 5:02 PM

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo
An ad hoc committee charged with crafting Burlington’s sanctuary city proposal adjourned its meeting Tuesday amidst shouts as spectators accused city councilors of an exclusive process that’s lacking in transparency.

“I may seem disruptive ... but it feels like once again you are oppressing your community and not allowing us to have a voice in the process,” argued Mark Hughes, cofounder of the racial justice organization Justice For All, from the seats of Burlington City Hall Auditorium.

City Council President Jane Knodell struggled to quiet the crowd of about 20 as audience members raised their voices to argue that the new policy proposal hadn’t included enough input from stakeholders and the public.

“This is the just the beginning of the process,” Knodell responded to Hughes as the crowd yelled out dissent. “We can have a whole meeting of public forum on this topic.”

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Study: Vermont Police Stop, Search Black Drivers More Than Whites

Posted By on Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 2:14 PM

Uinversity of Vermont professor Stephanie Seguino presenting her report, “Driving While Black and Brown in Vermont.” - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Uinversity of Vermont professor Stephanie Seguino presenting her report, “Driving While Black and Brown in Vermont.”
Black drivers are four times more likely than white drivers to be searched by Vermont police, even though they are less likely to be found with illegal items, according to a study released Monday by University of Vermont researchers.

The investigation, which examined 2015 data from 29 police agencies covering 78 percent of Vermont’s population, found significant disparities in how often blacks and Hispanics are stopped, searched and arrested, as compared to whites and Asians.

Professor Stephanie Seguino said her study, the first to examine statewide police data, provided proof that police officers throughout the state engage in implicit bias against minorities.

“My sense is a good deal of these disparities is due to implicit bias,” Seguino said.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Shumlin Issues Nearly 200 Marijuana Pardons

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 3:04 PM

Gov. Peter Shumlin - FILE PHOTO
  • file photo
  • Gov. Peter Shumlin
Gov. Peter Shumlin issued 192 pardons on Tuesday to people convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession, saying that individuals should not face lifelong consequences for the “minor” crime.

The recipients were culled from a group of about 450 people who submitted applications after Shumlin announced in December that he would consider such pardons before he leaves office on Thursday.

Shumlin has advocated for marijuana legalization and in 2013 signed a law that decriminalized possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Burlington Police Investigating the Death of Man Found at Bridge

Posted By on Mon, Jan 2, 2017 at 1:39 PM

The railroad bridge off Intervale Road in Burlington - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • The railroad bridge off Intervale Road in Burlington
Burlington police are investigating the death of a 22-year-old Winooski man found at a railroad bridge off Intervale Road on New Year’s Day.

Nicholas Cusson-Ducharme had been reported missing around 6 p.m. Saturday. Police said he was last seen early Saturday morning in downtown Burlington. He was reportedly intoxicated and had become separated from his friends, police said in a press release.

Authorities began searching for Cusson-Ducharme on Saturday night but could not find him.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Despite Hefty New Fines, Truck Drivers Still Try the Notch

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2016 at 2:38 PM

A stuck truck in June - COURTESY OF VERMONT DMV
  • Courtesy of Vermont DMV
  • A stuck truck in June
New fines mean that truck drivers who venture into Smugglers’ Notch can wind up paying thousands of dollars — but that didn’t deter several from trying anyway.

Authorities ticketed seven commercial drivers who headed into the Notch after July 1 — the date the fines went into effect.

Tractor-trailers and buses have long been prohibited from the Notch, but the new law imposes a stiff financial penalty, said Col. William Elovirta, the enforcement and safety division director at the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Six drivers were ticketed for “impeding the flow of traffic” by getting stuck in the Notch, a section of Route 108. That offense carries a fine of $2,347. Authorities issued another ticket, for $1,197, to a driver who violated the commercial vehicle ban for the windy, two-lane mountain pass that connects Stowe and Jeffersonville.

Four drivers were convicted, one case was dismissed and two other cases are pending, according to Joanne Charbonneau, the interim clerk at the Vermont Judicial Bureau.

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Hundreds of People Apply for Shumlin’s Pot Pardons

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2016 at 10:35 AM

Misdemeanor marijuana convictions 10 years ago haunt Robert Elmes today.

Elmes was a Lyndonville selectman when five Vermont state troopers swooped in — along with a helicopter — and busted him at home, apparently after spotting plants from the air, he said. The news media covered his arrest, and Elmes eventually stepped down from office.

A licensed financial adviser, he had to notify federal financial regulators. As recently as a few weeks ago, Elmes said, Canadian border authorities grilled him about the arrest for several minutes.

“You can’t imagine what a burden on anyone’s life this kind of thing is,” Elmes, 66, said. “It’s with you forever. The trauma of the whole thing was ridiculous.”

Elmes is one of more than 330 people so far who have taken Gov. Peter Shumlin up on his offer to pardon people convicted of marijuana possession in his final days in office. The governor said he will consider pardoning people convicted of possessing one ounce of marijuana or less if they don’t have convictions for violence or felonies. Shumlin’s administration estimates several thousand people could meet the criteria.

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Gov. Shumlin Offers Pardons for Marijuana Possession Convictions

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 3:33 PM

  • Gov. Peter Shumlin
Updated at 4:20 p.m.

Puff, puff — poof.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin wants to make your pot conviction go up in smoke.
The outgoing Democrat will consider pardoning people convicted of possessing up to one ounce of marijuana, given applicants don’t have violent convictions in Vermont or a felony record.

Applications can be submitted online beginning Thursday and will be accepted through December 25 — Christmas. Shumlin leaves office shortly after that; Republican Phil Scott will succeed him.

There’s no guarantee of a pardon, the governor’s office said in a statement announcing the policy.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Shelburne Police Investigate Counterfeit Bill Passed at Local Shop

Posted By on Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 2:24 PM

This Seven Days file illustration highlights security features in a $100 note. 1. Watermark  2. Color-shifting ink  3. Security thread  4. 3D security ribbon  5. Serial numbers  6. Federal Reserve indicators   7. Note position and number   8. Face plate number    9. Series year   10. Back plate number (not shown) - FILE IMAGE
  • File image
  • This Seven Days file illustration highlights security features in a $100 note. 1. Watermark  2. Color-shifting ink  3. Security thread  4. 3D security ribbon  5. Serial numbers  6. Federal Reserve indicators  7. Note position and number  8. Face plate number   9. Series year  10. Back plate number (not shown)
Shelburne police say they are investigating what can be a holiday season problem: passing counterfeit money.

Tracy Stolese, who owns the home decor boutique Arabesque, said that she made a routine deposit from her weekend sales at Citizens Bank when a bank official told her that one of the $20 bills she gave them was a fake.

Stolese said that the bill was a bit blurry and more rigid than typical bills. But with traffic picking up for the holiday shopping season, a store clerk didn't detect anything amiss when it was handed off over the weekend, Stolese said.

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