BENNINGTON — One of the people found last week in possession of 98 bags of heroin — 68 of them used — was already facing drug-related charges.
On Monday, Nicole Bishop, 25, of Woodford, pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court Criminal Division to felony counts of heroin possession, and attempted sale of heroin, and a misdemeanor count of violating release conditions. She was released without bail under a 24-hour curfew at her residence, among other conditions.
On Aug. 15, she pleaded not guilty to a felony counts of depressant/stimulant/narcotic sale, and conspiracy to sell, deliver, manufacture, or cultivate a regulated drug. She was released without bail and ordered to check in at the Bennington Police Department three days a week, and to not have contact with her co-defendant, Andrew Struthers, 24, of Bennington, who also pleaded not guilty to charges related to drug sales.
Also on Monday, Richard J. Martin Jr., 30, of Woodford, pleaded not guilty to felony counts of attempted heroin sale, and heroin possession. He was released without bail under a curfew as well. Court records indicate that his curfew address is Serenity House, a drug rehabilitation center in Wallingford.
He's being charged along with Bishop for an incident on Sept. 29 when State Police police pulled the two over on Route 9 in Bennington. According to an affidavit by Vermont State Trooper Lucas Hall, since he arrested Bishop in June he had been getting information that she was bringing heroin into the state from New Jersey.
Hall said police were made aware that on Sept. 29, Bishop and Martin would be coming to Bennington, likely from New York, with a large amount of heroin. Trooper Thomas Stange saw their vehicle and pulled it over for a defective head light. He'd also seen it cross the centerline a number of times.
Bishop appeared nervous when speaking to police and gave them permission to search her vehicle. They initially found 68 glassine bags with a brown, powdery substance inside. Each bag was stamped with the label, "Savage." These were later tested and found to have contained heroin.
There were also two cell phones in the vehicle, which police could see contained messages from people asking when Bishop and Martin would arrive in Bennington and telling them how much heroin they wished to purchase.
Bishop told police she and Martin bought heroin from a local dealer. Hall didn't believe this, so Bishop then said they bought it in Troy, N.Y. He didn't believe this, either, prompting Bishop to admit that the heroin was bought in New Jersey. She said she acted as the driver while Martin bought the heroin. She said she did not know how much he bought, but said they had used the 68 bags between them on the return trip.
Police did not find heroin in Bishop's vehicle, however both Bishop and Martin did sit in police cruisers while being question. Hall wrote that both cruisers were searched prior to putting Bishop and Martin inside them, as it's a common practice among those in possession of drugs to hide them in the cruiser.
In Stange's cruiser, where Martin had been, police found 30 full bags of heroin. These bore the same "Savage" stamp as the others found in Bishop's vehicle.
According to another affidavit by State Police, Bishop was allegedly assisting Struthers, whom police informants had described as the largest pill dealer in the Bennington area, in selling prescription medications.
— Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 Ext. 115