Saturday May 11, 2013

Reduced charges yield six months in jail

BENNINGTON -- A man accused of selling heroin and sending threatening text messages was given six months to serve Monday after he pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

John C. Lavigne, 28, of Bennington, pleaded not guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to sell drugs, heroin sale, and misdemeanor heroin possession. The state dropped three felony counts of heroin sale and two counts of heroin possession. He was given a three- to five-year sentence, all suspended except six months to serve, and was placed on probation for five years.

Lavigne also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of disturbing the peace via phone, a charge that stemmed from another matter. According to police, Lavigne sent threatening text messages to a woman in Bennington, who Lavigne’s wife, Shamroc Lavigne, has been charged with assaulting. Shamroc Lavigne has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

According to an affidavit by police assigned to the Vermont Drug Task Force, in December a "cooperating individual" told them they could purchase heroin from Mary Smith, 26, who would act as an intermediary between the individual and another person.

Police said they equipped the individual with recording devices and observed them while they arranged to purchase drugs through Smith. The individual told police the person supplying the heroin to Smith was Lavigne, and so Lavigne became the target of the investigation and deals between him and the individual were recorded.


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Smith has pleaded not guilty to multiple drug charges, which have not been resolved.

Lavigne and Smith were both arrested in "Operation County Strike," a joint effort by multiple police agencies in mid-January in which more than 50 people in Bennington County were arrested under suspicion of selling drugs.

-- Keith Whitcomb Jr.

Man receives 18 months for assaulting woman

BENNINGTON -- A man accused of assaulting a woman because he thought she was recording him was given between 18 months and four years to serve Monday after he pleaded guilty to the assault and resisting arrest.

Jerry Rhodes, 32, was arraigned in November on charges of first degree aggravated domestic assault, unlawful restraint with risk of injury, resisting arrest, and marijuana possession. The state dismissed the unlawful restraint and marijuana charges.

According to Bennington Police, on Halloween night they sought to arrest Rhodes because a warrant had been placed on him for another matter. Police went to the Mid-Town Motel and were met at the door by a man who said Rhodes was not there. After hearing glass breaking inside the room police found Rhodes fleeing out the back. Rhodes was captured and found to be in possession of marijuana and over $3,000 in cash.

While Rhodes was being processed a woman approached police and said he had assaulted her a few days before on two occasions. She said he accused her of being a "rat" and hiding recording devices around him before pulling her around a motel room and not letting her leave. She said he also hit and kicked her on another occasion and told police the attack broke three of her ribs, injured her lung, and blackened her eye.

Rhodes denied injuring the woman and told police three other women had hurt her at a bar.

-- Keith Whitcomb Jr.

Man accused of fighting pleads to lesser charges

BENNINGTON -- A New York man who police said assaulted a relative and who was facing a felony domestic assault charged pleaded guilty to amended misdemeanor charges Monday and received a fine.

Timothy S. Harris, 49, of Hoosick, N.Y., pleaded guilty to simple assault by mutual fray, and unlawful mischief. According to court records he was ordered to pay a $250 fine on top of normal court surcharges.

Harris was charged in August with going to Arlington and assaulting a male relative. Police said the alleged assault victim told them Harris misconstrued something he had said about a woman they both knew. The alleged victim told police he tried to use a knife to scare Harris away but Harris took the knife and threw it, then the fight continued.

-- Keith Whitcomb Jr.

Man, 74, pleads guilty to prohibited act

BENNINGTON -- An elderly Bennington man who was accused in July of groping a woman in his home pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge and received a suspended sentence.

John A. Thompson, 74, pleaded to a misdemeanor count of engaging in a prohibited act and received an 11 to 12 month suspended sentence. He was also placed on probation.

According to Vermont State Police, the incident happened when Thompson was living in Shaftsbury. Police said a woman, who knows Thompson, told them Thompson invited her into his home and touched her inappropriately.

-- Keith Whitcomb Jr.