Monday July 8, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A man who was arrested along with nearly 60 others in January as part of "Operation County Strike," the largest drug sweep in Vermont history, will serve between three and 12 years in prison for selling drugs to police informants.

Michael J. Gates, 53, of School Street, pleaded guilty Tuesday to five felony counts of selling cocaine, and five misdemeanor counts of possession of cocaine. The state dismissed a number of other charges, including one that traded drugs to a woman for sex.

According to an affidavit by a member of the Vermont Drug Task Force, since 2012 they had been receiving information alleging that Gates was selling drugs from his home. Police said one evening they were called to his home for a woman who had overdosed on drugs.

Police said they also spoke to a woman who claimed to have traded sex for drugs with Gates on a number of occasions. Most of Gates’ convictions stem from instances when police paid a "cooperating individual" cash in exchange for buying drugs from Gates while being recorded. This is how police obtained probable cause for charges on most of the defendants involved in the County Strike operation.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com


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