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Monday, September 10, 2018

ACLU Slams Plan to Send Vermont Inmates to Mississippi Prison

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2018 at 3:18 PM

  • Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
  • Camp Hill prison
Updated 7:51 p.m.

The Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union slammed the Department of Corrections on Monday for preparing to send state inmates to a privately run prison in Mississippi.

Following reports of abuse and multiple deaths, more than 200 Vermont inmates currently living in a Pennsylvania prison will be moved next month to the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Mississippi, reported on Sunday. The Mississippi facility is owned by CoreCivic, the company formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America.

Vermont had contracted with CCA to house inmates in Kentucky and Arizona from 2004 to 2015.

Critics such as the ACLU say Vermont should focus on reducing its inmate population through criminal justice reform measures so that the state would not have to enter into pricey contracts to send inmates out of state, where it is more difficult to monitor conditions.

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Authorities Say Investigating St. Joseph's Orphanage Abuse Won't Be Easy

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2018 at 2:42 PM

The former orphanage - NATALIE WILLIAMS
  • Natalie Williams
  • The former orphanage
Even as Vermont law enforcement officials announced Monday the formation of a task force to investigate claims of abuse at the long-shuttered St. Joseph's Catholic Orphanage, they acknowledged the challenges that it will face.

Attorney General T.J. Donovan suggested that the probe, prompted by a recent Buzzfeed story detailing decades of abuse suffered by children, could focus more on fact-finding than legal action. The story includes claims that children died at the hands of nuns.

Many of the victims and alleged perpetrators are dead or elderly, and the statutes of limitation have expired for many acts at the North Avenue orphanage, which closed in 1974.

"While there may be challenges given the current state of our laws ... there should be no challenge to bringing truth and reconciliation and closure and justice for victims," Donovan said. He added, "Justice doesn't always occur in a courtroom."

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Friday, September 7, 2018

Burlington Police, Mayor Criticize Prosecutors for Not Charging Suspect

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2018 at 1:47 PM

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo at a press conference - FILE: SARA TABIN
  • File: Sara Tabin
  • Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo at a press conference
Updated at 5:20 p.m.

In a highly unusual move, Burlington police on Friday publicly criticized prosecutors for not pursuing criminal charges against a Colchester man who claimed self-defense for his role in a downtown shooting that injured an innocent bystander.

Carl Martin was charged in August with aggravated assault, aggravated disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment for his alleged actions in the February incident.

According to police, Martin's brother had a long-simmering dispute with Rashad Nashid over a woman. The men ran into each other at Nectar's on Main Street one February night and began arguing. Nashid later left and went next door to Esox, another bar.

But he and Carl Martin continued to argue while both were outside smoking. Martin eventually punched Nashid in the face, prompting both men to pull handguns. Nashid fired, according to cops, hitting the 27-year-old bystander.

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Burlington Police Will Investigate Claims of Abuse at St. Joseph's Orphanage

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2018 at 1:17 PM

The former orphanage - NATALIE WILLIAMS
  • Natalie Williams
  • The former orphanage
Updated at 4:48 p.m.

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said his department will launch an inquiry into allegations made in a recent Buzzfeed story about decades of abuse at the St. Joseph's Catholic Orphanage.

Del Pozo provided few details, but said he was meeting with the Vermont Attorney General's Office Friday and has been in discussions with Mayor Miro Weinberger about investigating the allegations of physical, mental and sexual abuse at St. Joseph's. The Buzzfeed article includes allegations that children were killed.

The orphanage closed in 1974. The imposing North Avenue building became part of Burlington College before it was turned into housing.

"It's safe to say that the mayor and I feel it's in the interests of justice to offer a full accounting of the crimes," del Pozo said. "We feel it's the duty of the state to do so."

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Montréal Man Gets Four Years for Smuggling Guns Through Library

Posted By on Tue, Sep 4, 2018 at 12:55 PM

Haskell Free Library and Opera House in Derby Line - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Haskell Free Library and Opera House in Derby Line
A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a Montréal man to more than four years in prison for smuggling 100 firearms through a bathroom in the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, which straddles the international border in Derby Line.

Alexis Vlachos, a career criminal who pronounced himself a reformed man during a U.S. District Court hearing, will likely be released from prison in the coming weeks after receiving credit for time served and good behavior. He plans to work at his father's restaurant, lawyers said.

Vlachos, 41, led a three-man operation that bought 100 handguns from licensed dealers in Florida. In March 2011, the coconspirators traveled to Vermont and left several firearms in the library, which is famously bisected by the international border.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Police: Essex Man Used Racial Slurs, Waved Pistol at Store Clerk

Posted By on Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 3:05 PM

Sheldon Rheaume, 23, of Essex - COLIN FLANDERS/ESSEX REPORTER
  • Colin Flanders/Essex Reporter
  • Sheldon Rheaume, 23, of Essex
An Essex man allegedly used racial slurs against a convenience store clerk, pointed a loaded handgun at her and threatened to shoot anyone who came after him before driving off early Tuesday, according to court filings.

Essex police later arrested Sheldon Rheaume in a Hannaford parking lot. Officers found the 23-year-old wearing a tactical vest and with a loaded 9-millimeter pistol in his car.

During a court appearance later Tuesday morning, a shackled Rheaume, wearing a white T-shirt and jean shorts, listened quietly and occasionally looked up at Judge David Fenster. Rheaume faces charges of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, offenses that carry heftier potential prison sentences for him because prosecutors consider the crimes motivated by hate.

In court documents, deputy Chittenden County state's attorney Zoe Newman argued Rheaume poses a continuing threat to the public.

"[Rheaume] went into a store, seemingly at random, and, unprovoked ... held a loaded gun to the victim's head because of her race and/or ethnicity," Newman wrote.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Walters: Hundreds Pay Tribute to Woman Killed by Former Boyfriend

Posted By on Wed, Jul 11, 2018 at 11:55 PM

Kate Root speaking at the vigil as Courtney's Allies stand behind her - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Kate Root speaking at the vigil as Courtney's Allies stand behind her
A poster-size photo of Courtney Gaboriault was taped to the base of "Youth Triumphant," the granite statue in downtown Barre's City Hall Park. Flowers and candles were arrayed beneath the photo. People arriving for a Wednesday evening vigil in honor of Gaboriault stopped to take pictures of themselves with the image of the 29-year-old Barre resident, who was killed on the Fourth of July by her estranged boyfriend, Luke LaCroix. He then killed himself.

About 300 people encircled a gazebo as a group of young women calling themselves Courtney's Allies stood around a microphone and shared memories of Gaboriault. Candles, matchbooks, bottled water and packets of facial tissues were available on folding tables nearby. Most were put to good use. People did their best to protect candle flames from a summer breeze that wafted through the park. A donation box for the Central Vermont Humane Society, Gaboriault's favorite charity, overflowed with pet supplies.

Courtney's Allies had organized the vigil as the first step to give meaning to her death. There was no mention of the controversy that had erupted over a Barre-Montpelier Times Argus story that celebrated the killer more than his victim. The paper has published an explanation and apology.

"Courtney deserved this and so much more," said Kate Root, a friend of Gaboriault who had taken the lead in organizing the vigil. "She was the kindest person. She was always putting herself out for other people." And she added, speaking to Gaboriault, "You'll always be a boss babe to me."

Alex Johns, who had been Gaboriault's roommate, took the microphone to celebrate this "amazing, kind, caring, beautiful person" whose greatest loves in life were "her family; her dog, Roscoe; and T.J. Maxx." Johns recounted their frequent shopping trips to the T.J. Maxx in Burlington and speculated that her late friend may have been responsible for keeping the store in business.

Root told the crowd that Courtney's Allies planned to carry on as an organized effort. Those plans, she said afterward, are still being formulated. "We want to continue the conversation about domestic violence," she said. "We don't want Courtney to be remembered solely for what happened to her."

Judging by the community response and the determination displayed by the group of young women who had suffered a deep loss only a few days earlier, it's almost certain we haven't heard the last of Courtney's Allies.

Correction July 19, 2018: A previous version of this story misstated where the T.J. Maxx store is located.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Police: Romantic Rivalry Led to Deadly Burlington Bridge Fight

Posted By on Mon, Jun 11, 2018 at 7:00 PM

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo at a press conference Monday - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo at a press conference Monday
A preplanned Saturday night fight between two young men over a woman ended when one of the men fell 60 feet to his death off a railroad bridge that spans the Winooski River, Burlington police said on Monday.

The surviving combatant, 20-year-old Joshua Granger of Winooski, is now charged with second-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty Monday morning in Vermont Superior Court and remains held in custody without bail.

Granger told police that he'd arranged to fistfight Jared Streeter, 20, on Saturday night at what's known as the Blue Bridge, a span off Intervale Road. The two men had "an ongoing dispute ... regarding a girl they were both interested in," Granger told detectives, according to an arrest affidavit.

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Judge Skeptical of Request to Move Trial of Driver in Crash That Killed Five

Posted By on Thu, May 24, 2018 at 2:21 PM

Steven Bourgoin, left, with defense attorney Bob Katims, center - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • Steven Bourgoin, left, with defense attorney Bob Katims, center
Print media still matters.

A defense motion to move the trial for Steven Bourgoin, accused of killing five teens in an intentional head-on car crash in 2016, was derailed Thursday because Judge Kevin Griffin couldn't access online stories about the case on the Burlington Free Press website.

Bourgoin's attorneys, Bob Katims and Sara Puls, submitted examples of media coverage of the case to argue that a fair and impartial jury could not be found in Chittenden County. But Griffin said Thursday he could not complete a thorough examination of the evidence because he was stymied by the Free Press' subscription paywall.

Hair and beard long and unkempt, Bourgoin stared down at the table before him during much of the hearing. The defendant, who has gained weight during his time in custody, did not speak to the judge but talked quietly with his lawyers. Bourgoin intends to offer an insanity defense.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Two Suspects in Highgate Murder Caught in South Burlington

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2018 at 9:46 AM

Erika Guttilla, left, and Corey Cassani - VERMONT STATE POLICE
  • Vermont State Police
  • Erika Guttilla, left, and Corey Cassani
Two fugitives wanted in connection with the murder of a Highgate man were caught Tuesday morning in South Burlington, Vermont State Police said.

Authorities arrested Erika Guttilla and Corey Cassani without incident around 1:30 a.m. after a traffic stop on Route 7, near the Shelburne town line.

Guttilla, who police said fatally shot her then-boyfriend, Troy Ford, was held without bail. Cassani, who allegedly played a role in the crime, was held on $25,000 bail.

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