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Crime

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

McAllister Gets Probation, Not Prison, for Prostitution-Related Charge

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 1:50 PM

Norm McAllister after his sentencing - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Norm McAllister after his sentencing
Former state senator Norm McAllister got no prison time but was sentenced to serve one year of probation during a hearing Tuesday in Franklin Superior Court.

Judge Martin Maley rejected prosectors' request to send McAllister to prison for nine to 12 months. The judge said it would not be "proportionate" to the misdemeanor crime of prohibited acts.

A jury in July convicted McAllister of arranging for a friend to have sex with a woman who lived in a trailer on his Franklin County farm, but acquitted him of another charge of prohibited acts and of felony sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence. The charges involved the same woman.

Maley sentenced McAllister, 66, to probation and 25 days on a work crew, and ordered him to undergo sex offense therapy as ordered by probation officers. McAllister was also ordered to stay away from the woman. A suspended sentence of nine to 12 months could be imposed if McAllister violates any probation conditions.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Meat Cleaver Murder Suspect to Undergo Sanity Evaluation

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 5:36 PM

Aita Gurung in court Friday - RYAN MERCER/BURLINGTON FREE PRESS
  • Ryan Mercer/Burlington Free Press
  • Aita Gurung in court Friday
A man accused of hacking his wife to death with a meat cleaver in broad daylight on a Burlington street has been ordered held without bail and must undergo a mental competency and sanity evaluation, a judge ruled Friday afternoon.

A shackled Aita Gurung, 34, looked at the floor and showed no expression as an interpreter explained Judge Kevin Griffin's orders during an appearance in Vermont Superior Court. Gurung will be evaluated at the University of Vermont Medical Center and will be kept in the custody of the Department of Mental Health until it's complete, Griffin ruled.

Sara Puls of the Chittenden County Public Defender's Office, who represented Gurung in court, entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.

Authorities say that on Thursday afternoon, Gurung killed his wife, 32-year-old Yogeswari Khadka, and critically injured his 54-year-old mother-in-law, Tulasa Rimal. Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said she was expected to survive. Gurung was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder.

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State Sen. Debbie Ingram Arrested for DUI in Williston

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 9:51 AM

Sen. Debbie Ingram - WILLISTON POLICE
  • Williston Police
  • Sen. Debbie Ingram
Updated at 10:20 a.m.

State Sen. Debbie Ingram (D-Chittenden) was arrested Thursday night and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after allegedly steering her car into a ditch, Williston police said.

Around 8 p.m., Williston police responded to a crash on South Road. Police said that Ingram, an ordained minister and a freshman senator, had gone off the road, struck a "fixed object," continued on and then veered off the road again.

She was cited to appear in Chittenden Superior Court on November 2 on a charge of driving under the influence.

Ingram released a statement Friday morning through her attorney, Ted Kenney:

Last night I was arrested near my home in Williston and charged with a DUI. I
am grateful that no one was injured as a result of my irresponsible behavior. I
suffer from a disease for which I have been getting treatment through a 12-Step
program. I had a temporary setback last night and will continue to seek treatment to ensure that something like this never happens again. I accept full responsibility for the consequences of my actions. 
Ingram, 55, a Democrat who first won election to the state Senate in 2016, is the executive director of Vermont Interfaith Action, a nonprofit alliance of religious groups. She previously served on the Williston Selectboard.
Sen. Debbie Ingram speaking in favor of raising the legal smoking age to 21 - FILE: TERRI HALLENBECK
  • File: Terri Hallenbeck
  • Sen. Debbie Ingram speaking in favor of raising the legal smoking age to 21

She lives on South Road in Williston, according to publicly available records. Earlier this year, she pushed for a failed bill that would have raised the legal smoking age from 18 to 21.

Ingram is a graduate of Stanford University and Fuller Theological Seminary, and completed a fellowship at Cambridge University in England, according to her legislative biography.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Burlington Cops: Man Armed With Meat Cleaver Kills Wife

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 5:38 PM

A police car in front of 72 Hyde Street - MATTHEW ROY
  • Matthew Roy
  • A police car in front of 72 Hyde Street
This story was updated at 9 p.m.

A man released from a hospital where he'd sought mental health treatment returned to his Old North End home on Thursday, killed his wife with a meat cleaver and attacked his mother-in-law, Burlington police said.

Aita Gurung, 34, on Saturday sought “police attention for mental health issues and concerns about his deteriorating relationship with his wife,” Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said in a press release. Police called for emergency medical services, and he was taken to University of Vermont Medical Center.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Border Patrol Breaks Up 15-Person Smuggling Attempt in Derby

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 1:02 PM

A sign near the border - FILE: MARK DAVIS
  • File: Mark Davis
  • A sign near the border
Authorities arrested three people after U.S. Border Patrol agents disrupted an attempt to smuggle 15 undocumented immigrants from Canada into Vermont, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Wednesday.

Agents took into custody 11 Guatemalan citizens, four Mexicans and their driver, Hector Ramon Perez-Alvarado, who is also undocumented and from Honduras, federal authorities said.

Perez-Alvarado was arrested, as were two Mexican men: Noe Perez-Ramirez and Alberto Alvarado-Castro, both of whom were charged with attempting to reenter the country after having been previously deported. Authorities said Alvarado-Castro had several prior felony burglary convictions in the U.S.

All three appeared in U.S. District Court in Burlington on Tuesday and did not oppose prosecutors' requests to hold them in prison pending trial.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Trump Nominates Prosecutor Nolan for Vermont U.S. Attorney

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 5:39 PM

Donald Trump in Burlington last year - FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
  • Donald Trump in Burlington last year
President Donald Trump on Friday nominated Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan to serve as Vermont's U.S. Attorney.

Nolan, a native Vermonter who graduated from the University of Vermont and Boston College Law School, would become the first woman to hold the top federal prosecutor's job in Vermont if the U.S. Senate confirms her.

Both U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Republican Gov. Phil Scott recommended Nolan in June, calling her a "fair and tough" prosecutor.
In a joint statement Friday, Leahy and Scott pledged to advocate for her confirmation.

"Christina is a tough and well-respected prosecutor who is uniquely familiar with the challenges of our state’s opioid crisis," they said. "We were both impressed by Christina’s passion for the state of Vermont and for the mission of a prosecutor — to seek justice and improve our communities — as well as her thoughtfulness and leadership."

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Jury Acquits Former Vermont Cop Who Shot Drug Suspect in 2014

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 4:03 PM

Ryan Palmer in 2015 - COURTESY OF JENNIFER HAUCK/VALLEY NEWS
  • Courtesy of Jennifer Hauck/Valley News
  • Ryan Palmer in 2015
A jury this week found a former Windsor police officer not guilty of charges stemming from the shooting of a drug suspect during an undercover raid in 2014.

Ryan Palmer's case drew widespread attention, in part because on-duty Vermont police officers have so rarely in recent memory been charged with criminal offenses.

Former attorney general Bill Sorrell, who cleared police officers of criminal wrongdoing in most cases during his 20 year tenure, charged Palmer in 2015. But on Wednesday evening, a jury in Windsor Superior Court deliberated for six hours before acquitting Palmer of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and reckless endangerment charges.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Vermont Judge Orders Google to Comply With Search Warrants

Posted By on Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 2:46 PM

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan
An Addison County judge has ordered Google to comply with search warrants seeking computer records in three child sex crime investigations, authorities announced Wednesday.

The internet giant refused to comply with the warrants because the information sought by Vermont prosecutors is stored on overseas servers, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan said.

This legal issue is playing out in criminal courts across the country and could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Former Burlington Cop Charged With Lying About Drug Bust

Posted By on Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 5:18 PM

Christopher Lopez - COURTESY BURLINGTON POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Courtesy Burlington Police Department
  • Christopher Lopez
A former Burlington police officer who left the force in February after he was accused of lying during a drug investigation will face a criminal charge, Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced Wednesday.

Christopher Lopez is scheduled to appear in Chittenden Superior Court on September 7 to answer to a charge of providing false information to a police officer, a misdemeanor.

Assistant Attorney General John Treadwell, who is handling the case, declined to comment.

Lopez wrote in a sworn affidavit that he could smell "the odor of fresh marijuana emitting" from a car driven by Burlington resident Michael Mullen, 25. He used that to justify a search in October during which he found drugs and paraphernalia.

But Lopez was captured on his body camera telling another officer on the scene that he couldn't smell marijuana and was trying to "get creative" to justify searching the car. Lopez appeared to try to turn off his camera.

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Advocate: Transient's Latest Arrest Exposes Holes in Social Safety Net

Posted By on Fri, Aug 25, 2017 at 2:25 PM

ROB DONNELLY
  • Rob Donnelly
The recent arrest of a mentally ill homeless man in Burlington has prompted questions about the resources available for the city's most vulnerable — and volatile — individuals.

Michael Reynolds was arrested Saturday after he allegedly punched a Burlington restaurant owner in the chest. Reynolds is a familiar face to law enforcement: the altercation at East West Café was Reynolds's 861st documented incident with police since 2011. The 40-year-old transient appeared in court and was back on the street this week.

Police publicized Reynolds' lengthy criminal record in a press release emailed to local media Wednesday with the subject line, "DRUNKEN MAN ASSAULTS BUSINESS OWNER." But the release left out the fact that Reynolds, who's been arrested 117 times, is schizophrenic, according to a relative who lives out of state.

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