Tuesday November 20, 2012

BENNINGTON -- Police said the passenger of a car, pulled over at a traffic stop Saturday, drove off while they were talking to the driver, who ultimately was charged with having stolen the car and being intoxicated while driving it.

Raymond W. Widmann, 49, of Troy, N.Y., pleaded not guilty Monday in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division to aggravated vehicle operation without the owner’s consent, and first offense of driving under the influence of alcohol. He was released on $25,000 bail and a condition he not drive.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer Joshua Stemp, on Saturday at 1:52 a.m. he was parked at the Mid-Town Motel on Main Street when a 2012 Mazda sedan drove by at 42 mph, 12 mph over the posted speed limit. Stemp said he followed the vehicle to the area around the Old First Church and had it pull over.

Stemp wrote that Widmann was the driver and he had one passenger. While he was speaking to Widmann near the rear of the vehicle, its engine started and the vehicle drove off. Stemp said other officers responded and located the vehicle about 400 yards to the west, but no one was in it and no one was located nearby.

Stemp wrote that Widmann told him he did not know the other man and had met him recently at the Stewart’s Shop in Troy. Widmann also said he was not the owner of the vehicle, which according to Stemp was reported stolen on Aug. 11 out of Suffolk County, N.Y., and had a listed value of $16,752. Step wrote that Widmann did not give more information about the man or the vehicle.

Stemp wrote in an additional affidavit that he found Widmann to be in possession of a hypodermic needle as well as five small wax paper bags along with a pipe containing a burned residue. Stemp wrote that based on his training and experience, these items were heroin paraphernalia. He wrote that there was not enough material to be field tested, but Widmann showed signs of intoxication. Stemp wrote that he did not perform field sobriety exercises and Widmann refused to take a breath test.

-- Keith Whitcomb Jr.