BENNINGTON -- A North Street woman who was arrested Friday along with three others is said to have played a large role in the distribution of heroin in town.
Fay Morse, 34, pleaded not guilty to a felony count of heroin possession, and misdemeanor count of possession of a narcotic. Those charges stemmed from a search warrant conducted by Bennington Police's special response team (SRT), Vermont State Police, and the Bennington County Sheriff's Department.
She also pleaded not guilty to two counts of felony sale of heroin, two counts of misdemeanor heroin possession, and two counts of dispensing a regulated drug from a dwelling. Those charges stem from separate affidavits by members of the Vermont Drug Task Force, who had been investigating Morse since September after getting information from people arrested in a drug sweep.
Morse was released on a number of conditions, one being that she abide by a 24-hour curfew at her home except for medical appointments, which include her having to seek drug addiction treatment and show the state evidence she has done so by Monday.
"Ms. Morse has been a significant supplier of heroin in Bennington for the past four months," said Deputy State's Attorney Robert Plunkett. "Her name was mentioned by a number of individuals that had been arrested during the September mini-sweep, and the investigation into Ms. Morse has been ongoing since September."
Plunkett told Judge Nancy Corsones that while $75,000 bail had been placed on Morse after she was arrested, he has since come by information indicating she is not a risk of flight.
In Vermont, bail can only imposed to ensure a defendant keeps their court appointments.
"In the drug community in Bennington, there are those that are addicts and simply sell to help their addiction, there are those that are suppliers and sell for the purpose of greed. Ms. Morse falls into the middle of these categories, and rather than treat her as the major source she was, I am comfortable with the fact that she will not leave the jurisdiction," Plunkett said. "I'm hoping I won't be wrong on this. I understand that she is understandably terrified after her arrest and she has developed a new understanding of how she has to treat her addiction."
According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer James A. Gulley Jr., on Jan. 15 an employee of H&R Block, which sits next to 216 North Street where Morse lives, contacted police to say that four apparent drug deals had been witnessed there within the past 24 hours, and that the business feared for the safety of its employees and customers.
Police spoke more with H&R Block employees who said for the past year they had noticed a large number of people going in and out of the apartment building, never staying for long.
A member of the Vermont Drug Task Force was contacted, who said two search warrants for that address had been drafted but the time limit on them expired. According to the task force member, on Nov. 20, a police informant bought two bags of heroin form Morse. The same thing happened twice on Dec. 12.
Bennington Police were given a search warrant on Jan. 16, which the executed the next day at 10:35 a.m. Bennington Police's SRT, wearing body armor and carrying assault rifles, secured the building, detaining five people. One, a 55-year-old woman, was transported to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center for a health issue. The remaining four included Morse, her husband Edward S. Morse, 36, Michelle L. Snyder, 28, and Robert A. Bell, 24.
The court had no record of Morse, Snyder, or Bell being charged in connection with this incident. Bennington Police issued a press release Friday saying four people were arrested at 216 North Street, but no names were given.
Gulley wrote that through an "excited utterance" Fay Morse told police what they were looking for was in a blue bag by her bed. Police found 29 glassine - a thin type of paper - bags containing a brown powder. Each weighed about 30 milligrams. They also found a Fentanyl patch and $340 cash. Two firearms belonging to Edward Morse were also found. Police did not say what kind.
A bedroom belonging to Snyder and Bell was searched where police found nine glassine packages filled with brown powder, along with two Clonazepam pills - a drug used to treat seizures - and eight Oxycodone tablets, which are a narcotic.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.