Thursday March 14, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A man who was placed on probation for stealing a PlayStation and selling it for $16 pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating his probation by urging his then-wife to not testify against him.

Nathaniel Serre, 22, of Bennington, who is currently in jail, pleaded guilty one felony count of obstructing justice and three counts of violating court conditions. His probation on the burglary charge was revoked. Under the agreed upon sentence, he will serve between 18 months and four years.

On June 1 of last year Serre pleaded guilty to a felony count of burglary after he admitted to taking a PlayStation from a residence in Bennington. According to police he enlisted the help of a friend with an identification card to sell it to Gamer's Grotto in Bennington, which provided police with information on the sale that led them to Serre. The sentence Serre agreed to was a one- to three-year suspended sentence except for 20 days to serve plus probation that would expire in June 2014.

According to court records one of Serre's probation conditions was that he not engage in violent behavior. On Oct. 2, 2012 Serre was accused of violating his probation by allegedly shoving a male he had seen dancing with a woman at Doug's on Main Street then trying to pull her from the establishment by her arm. Police said this woman was believed to be married to Serre as of at least Oct. 3. Other probation violation complaints alleged he had engaged in abusive behavior with that woman, such as burning her with a cigarette, pouring milk on her head, and paying another woman $10 to beat her up. Serre denied the violations and was placed under conditions that he have no contact with the woman.

In December 2012 Judge Cortland Corsones ruled there was no violation to be found.

According to an affidavit by Bennington County Sheriff's Department Lt. Jason Noblet, on Feb. 8 of this year he was assigned by the Bennington County State's Attorney's Office to investigate allegations that Serre had first and third party contact with the aforementioned woman via telephone from the Rutland jail. Noblet listed approximately 45 calls placed by Serre and wrote that he could identify the voice of the woman on occasions she spoke with Serre. Many times, however, Serre spoke to his mother and relayed messages to the woman through her. Noblet said Serre referred to the woman as his sister or by other names to disguise who he was speaking to and at one point admonished his mother for using their real names because the calls were recorded.

Noblet wrote that Serre encouraged the woman to say he did not abuse her or find a way to not testify against him. They also talked of remarrying, money, and the difficulties of being incarcerated.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr