Saturday January 19, 2013

BENNINGTON -- Of the dozens of people charged Wednesday in connection with a county-wide sweep targeting drug dealers, two are facing felony charges for allegedly having a handgun with them when they sold drugs to a police informant.

Daniel Hutchins, 20, of School Street, pleaded not guilty to three counts of cocaine sale, three counts of possession of cocaine, and three counts of conspiracy to sell cocaine. He also pleaded not guilty to possession of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony, which carries a five-year maximum sentence.

His co-defendant, Hailey Clark, 19, pleaded not guilty to sale of cocaine, possession of cocaine, conspiracy to sell cocaine, and possession of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony. He was placed under $5,000 bail, while Clark was put under $3,000 bail. According to the Vermont Offender Locator, neither was listed as being in custody Friday and court conditions required them to obey 24-hour curfews.

William D. McLaughlin, 34, was named as co-defendant on some of the drug charges. He is facing a number of other charges as well but has yet to be arraigned on them as he was already in custody stemming from prior criminal allegations.

According to an affidavit by a detective assigned to the Vermont Drug Task Force, an informant arranged to meet Hutchins and Clark in a parking lot in Bennington where they purchased 13.6 grams of crack cocaine for $1,000 provided to them by the task force.

The informant told detectives they saw a .22 caliber handgun sitting in the center console of the vehicle They told police on one occasion there was a male in the back seat later identified as McLaughlin who they said handed the drugs to Hutchins who passed them to the informant.

-- Keith Whitcomb Jr..