Friday May 3, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- An Arlington man who the state initially charged with growing marijuana after a motorist saw him struggling to put out a fire pleaded no contest Wednesday to amended charges and was confined to house arrest while more serious charges alleging that he sold drugs to police informants are still pending.

Larry Clayton, 61, pleaded not guilty in November to a felony count of marijuana cultivation and misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest, cocaine possession, and narcotic possession. The cultivation charge was amended to a misdemeanor possession charge as part of a plea agreement. Clayton is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on May 31 and in the meantime will be under home confinement, the conditions of which involve a 24-hour curfew with exceptions for court and medical appointments, and attending church services.

Clayton is still facing pending charges alleging that he sold cocaine.

According to an affidavit by Vermont State Trooper Lewis Hatch, on Sept. 9 he was in Arlington when a woman pulled up nearby in a car and said she had witnessed black smoke coming from a residence on Route 7A. She said a man was attempting to put out a fire using buckets and it looked like a "losing battle."

Hatch said he and Trooper Wayne Godfrey went to the home and found Clayton spraying a fire with a garden hose.


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He wrote that when Clayton came towards him aggressively he noticed a plastic bag in his pocket that appeared to have cocaine in it.

According to Hatch, Clayton would not keep his hands out of his pockets, and fearing he would destroy evidence, Hatch put him in an arm hold. Clayton struggled until a stun gun was used on him.

Clayton admitted to possessing drugs in his home and gave police permission to search it. According to Hatch, 11 marijuana plants and other drug paraphernalia were found on the property, as were 10 Darvocet pain relievers for which Clayton did not have a prescription. Police also found a a rifle and shotgun in the home and said Clayton has felony convictions and is not allowed to possess firearms.

According to an affidavit by a member of the Vermont Drug Task Force, on Dec. 20, and twice Jan. 14, "cooperating individuals" were given funds from the task force along with recording equipment and were able to purchase cocaine from Clayton. Police said they began investigating Clayton in December.

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