Friday March 29, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Police said a woman who allegedly stole items from Family Dollar was also found to be in possession of prescription drugs.

Melissa J. Doucette, 43, of Mortimer Street, pleaded not guilty Monday in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division to a felony count of delivery of narcotics, and misdemeanor counts of possession of narcotics, and petit larceny. She was released on conditions she not go to Family Dollar.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer Thomas Bull, on Feb. 28 he was sent to Family Dollar where an employee reported a woman having stolen a number of items. The employee said the woman was in a red Subaru parked in the store's parking lot.

The employee, Kourtney Harris, told police she noticed the woman, later identified as Doucette, was watching the store's employees and placing items into her cart. However, employees noticed that the items in the cart were disappearing. A child who was with Doucette and referred to her as "mommy" asked what was in her purse, prompting Doucette to say she does not steal and got the items from another store. Harris said Doucette's purse appeared fuller when she went to check out, which prompted Harris to call police.

Bull said he found the Subaru and Doucette in its passenger seat. He told her about the complaint and she showed him three items she bought from the store along with her receipt for them. She said she had not taken anything from the store without paying and gave Bull permission to search her purse. He found 33 items in the purse that came from the Family Dollar, which Doucette said she did not pay for. According to employees at the store, the items were worth $133.

Bull said two red straws with a white residue in them were found to be in Doucette's possession. Later that same day Bull was contacted by a probation officer who met with Doucette after her arrest. In Doucette's purse, probation officers found a pill bottle with yellow and white pills, Clonazepam and Fioricet, respectively. Both are prescription drugs that can lead to addiction, according to the Coalition Against Drug Abuse. Fioricet is a prescription barbituate and Clonazepam is an anti-anxiety drug. Doucette said she got them from someone named Mike and had taken a few of the Clonazepam during the day.

Doucette also had two Suboxone strips that belonged to her friend, Tanya Burdick, whose electronic benefit transfer card Doucette was holding as collateral for a debt. Burdick told police she had given Doucette two Suboxone strips to repay one Doucette had given her, and loaned the EBT card to Doucette so she could buy milk. Suboxone is a prescription drug used to treat opioid dependance.

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