NEAL P. GOSWAMI
BENNINGTON -- Local police say the case against a man they suspect was trying to make methamphetamine is expected to be forwarded to prosecutors this week.
Police responded to a report on July 9 of chemicals inside a School Street apartment. Upon entering the residence, Bennington Police immediately withdrew after viewing potentially dangerous chemicals and laboratory materials. Surrounding homes and businesses were evacuated and the area secured until the next day when a state hazardous materials team could clear the apartment.
The state hazmat team and members of the Vermont State Police Clandestine Lab Team entered the house to clear and secure the chemicals.
Police questioned 21-year-old Justin Holton, a tenant of the apartment who claimed ownership of the chemicals, but did not charge him at the time. He has not been charged and remains free. Police, meanwhile, say they are still investigating the incident.
Holton told the Banner on July 10 that chemistry was a hobby and he was not attempting to make illicit drugs of any kind.
Bennington Police Lt. Lloyd Dean said the case will likely be forwarded to Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage this week. A report from the VSP Clandestine Lab Team has now been received, according to Dean.
"We have been waiting on the Clandestine Lab Team’s report to (Bennington Police Officer Andy Hunt), which he has now received. Officer Hunt is incorporating those findings into his report so he can present it to the state’s attorney in the near future," Dean said. "He expects it to be done this week."
State Police Lt. Reginald Trayah, commander of the Shaftsbury barracks and head of the Clandestine Lab Team, said he could not discuss the report because the investigation by Bennington Police is ongoing.
Chief Christopher Herrick of the Vermont HazMat Response Team said last month that his team removed several dangerous chemicals from the apartment. Members of the team analyzed each chemical outside the apartment using an infrared spectrometer and identified several, including iodine, acetone and sodium hydroxide.
But police said some ingredients needed to make methamphetamine were not found.