Law Enforcement

Monday, May 12, 2014

Taser Bill Passed, Shumlin Expected to Sign

Posted By on Mon, May 12, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Thetford's MacAdam Mason, who died in 2012 after a Vermont State Police trooper shot him with a Taser. - FAMILY PHOTO
  • Family photo
  • Thetford's MacAdam Mason, who died in 2012 after a Vermont State Police trooper shot him with a Taser.
In the waning days of their legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill regulating police use of electronic stun-guns that Gov. Peter Shumlin is expected to sign into law.

Motivated by the 2012 death of an unarmed Thetford man who suffered cardiac arrest after a Vermont State Police trooper shot him with a Taser, the bill makes Vermont the first state in the country to regulate use of the weapons, which police officers say provide them a relatively safe way to control non-compliant people.

The bill requires the Criminal Justice Training Council, which trains all police officers in Vermont, to develop a policy on Taser training by January 2016, and requires officers to obtain annual recertification in Taser use, including special training in dealing with the mentally ill. Currently, each police department sets its own standards for training and certification for Tasers.

Additionally, the bill tightens criteria for an officer to legally fire a Taser. Current standards allow police to fire the weapon when they believe they or someone else is at risk of injury. 

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Shumlin Drops Opposition to Handheld Cellphone Ban

Posted By on Wed, May 7, 2014 at 3:22 PM

Sen. Dick Sears (L) and Sen. Dick Mazza (R) - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Dick Sears (L) and Sen. Dick Mazza (R)
Updated at 4:05 p.m.: Later Wednesday afternoon, the House voted 129-6 in favor of the compromise. It now goes to the Senate.

As he made the case against banning handheld cellphone use while driving, Gov. Peter Shumlin said, "You can't legislate common sense."

Apparently, Vermont's going to try.

Soon after House and Senate conferees signed off on a compromise ban Wednesday afternoon, Shumlin dropped his long-held opposition to the measure. He was swayed, it appears, by a face-saving amendment preventing points from being assessed on those caught violating the ban.

"Gov. Shumlin wanted to ensure the bill made sense for Vermont, wouldn't increase Vermonters’ insurance rates or harm their driving records," spokeswoman Sue Allen said in a written statement. "He appreciated the legislature's willingness to compromise on this bill, and expects to sign it."

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Vermont Supreme Court Overturns Windsor County Murder Conviction

Posted By on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 2:09 PM


In an unusual move, the Vermont Supreme Court today overturned the murder conviction of a Windsor County man who has spent three years in prison for a shooting he has long claimed was self-defense.

In a 5-0 opinion, justices ruled that a trial judge improperly excluded key evidence that could have bolstered Kyle Bolaski's claim of self-defense in the 2008 shooting of Vincent Tamburello, who had charged at a group of Bolaski's friends with a small axe. Additionally, the court said the judge gave improper instructions to jurors that made the murder conviction more likely.

Currently serving a 25-year-to-life sentence, Bolaski may soon be freed from a Kentucky prison in which Vermont houses long-term inmates. Bolaski, 30, was free on bail before his 2011 trial. With the case effectively reset to pre-trial status, courts traditionally revert to the prior bail status.

It is unclear when a new trial would occur, though a hearing on Bolaski's bail status will likely come much sooner.

Members of Bolaski's family in Chester and Tamburello's family outside Boston did not immediately respond to messages. 

Today's decision was a dramatic twist in a six-year old case that has been fraught with controversy from the start.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Alleged Embezzler Bought Guns, Boat, Bird Incubator with Tax Money

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Alleged embezzler Lisa Peduzzi looks back during her arraignment in Chittenden Superior Court. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Alleged embezzler Lisa Peduzzi looks back during her arraignment in Chittenden Superior Court.
A former Vermont Office of Risk Management employee cut 19 checks to herself that amounted to more than $60,000 in taxpayer money to fund the purchase of pistols and rifles, guitars, a used Subaru Forester, a 20-foot boat, an incubator for small birds, two rings, and her local property taxes, according to court documents.

Lisa M. Peduzzi, 51, of Plainfield, pleaded not guilty to five counts of embezzlement and one count of attempted embezzlement on Monday morning in Chittenden Superior Court before she was released on $10,000 bail. 

When she was arrested outside her home last Friday, Peduzzi told Vermont State Police investigators that she "deserves whatever she gets and that she will pay back the state, even if it takes until she is 90," according to a Vermont State Police affidavit.

Meanwhile, court documents provide new details of her alleged scheme, which Peduzzi told investigators was motivated by financial troubles. At one point the power company threatened to shut off electricity to her double-wide trailer home, which is now in foreclosure. 

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Winooski Police Chief Retiring to Disney World

Posted By on Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Winooski Police Chief Steve McQueen - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Winooski Police Chief Steve McQueen
Winooski Police Chief Steve McQueen is leaving his job in September, after serving the Onion City for 30 years.

What's next for the chief? Consulting work? Police academy instructor? Golf courses and swimming pools?

"I'm going to retire to Disney World," said McQueen, whose office is littered with Magic Kingdom posters, knick knacks and a calendar. You don't have to be a detective to realize he's dead serious.

Specifically, McQueen plans to spend his golden years driving the van that shuttles prospective buyers into Disney World's timeshare program — of which he has been a longtime member — around the Orlando facility.

"I just want to do something for the fun of it for a while; that's the whole idea," McQueen said. "If I don't get away from what I've been doing for 36 years, I'll get sucked back in, and I want to let go."

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Shumlin, Drug Czar Announce Expansion of Overdose-Reversing Drug

Posted By on Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Gov. Peter Shumlin, with national drug czar Gil Kerlikowske at his right, announced plans to expand use of the opiate overdose-reversing drug naloxone during a morning press conference at the Department of Public Safety in Waterbury. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Gov. Peter Shumlin, with national drug czar Gil Kerlikowske at his right, announced plans to expand use of the opiate overdose-reversing drug naloxone during a morning press conference at the Department of Public Safety in Waterbury.

All Vermont State Police troopers and emergency medical technicians will soon carry a drug that can reverse opiate overdoses, Gov. Peter Shumlin announced at a press conference today.

Flanked by national drug czar Gil Kerlikowske and a phalanx of state officials, the governor unveiled his latest initiative in combating opiate addiction, which has become a centerpiece of his agenda.

Thus far, naloxone (commonly known by trade name Narcan) has saved the lives of seven Vermonters, Shumlin said.

The state has already dispensed 400 doses to the HowardCenter, another 100 to the Good Neighbor Health Clinic in White River Junction. Officials said they plan to begin sending doses to other "hub" facilities in the state's drug treatment system, starting with Rutland.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Essex Junction Considers New Land-Use Code to Prevent Unscrupulous Massage Parlors

Posted By on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 12:52 PM


On Tuesday, the Village of Essex Junction Board of Trustees will consider proposed changes to its land development code that would make it more difficult to open massage parlors that allow criminal activities on their premises. The measure, introduced by village trustee Elaine Sopchak, comes in response to revelations last year by Seven Days that at least three Chittenden County massage parlors, including the now-defunct Seiwa Spa in Essex Junction (seen right in a May 2013 photo), were allegedly offering sex for money, possibly by female workers who were the victims of human trafficking.

The proposal, scheduled for discussion at the board's February 11 meeting, would create a new section of the village's land development code that specifically targets massage establishments. According to Sopchak, the new code would define what constitutes a massage parlor and would require a public hearing before one may open, as well as routine inspections and an annually renewable business permit.

The new code would also place physical restrictions on such businesses, such as prohibiting sleeping quarters on the premises, banning locks on massage room doors and not allowing customers to enter and exit from the rear of the building. Sopchak, who's been working closely on the new code with Essex Police Chief Brad LaRose, said that many of the proposed changes are borrowed from a model ordinances developed by the Polaris Project, an international anti-human-trafficking group based in Washington, D.C.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

To Simulate a Shooting, Vermont State Police Occupy Burlington Town Center

Posted By on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 7:18 AM


It was only a drill. Five Vermont state troopers were moving through Burlington Town Center on Thursday evening, when suddenly, they came under fire. Four journalists had infiltrated the deserted mall and wouldn't stop shooting at them. 

Click. Click. Click. 

Undettered by the paparazzi's cameras, the troopers went on with their demonstration, proceeding from the mall's Bank Street entrance in a diamond formation, making their way down to the J. Crew store with guns drawn, turning around and exiting the way they came.  

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

This Week's Issue: A Neighborly Noise Feud in Burlington, 'Border' Security and Maple Saplings

Posted on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 11:44 AM


Find these news and politics stories in this week's Seven Days...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

This Week's Issue: Aging Prisoners, Woodstoves and Public TV Trouble

Posted on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 5:03 PM


A new issue of Seven Days hits the newsstands today. Here's what you'll find inside:

Get all these stories and more in print, online or on the app.

Cover photo by Tom McNeill

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