'Blazing Saddles' reference used at alleged kidnapper's bail hearing


BENNINGTON -- "Blazing Saddles," a 1974 comedy-western film, got a mention at a bail hearing Thursday for a man facing multiple kidnapping felonies involving an infant.

Public Defender Frederick Bragdon, who represents Thomas R. Vollinger, 24, of Arlington, had challenged a judge's finding of probable cause on a number of kidnapping charges his client has been facing since Friday. According to Bennington Police, on Oct. 30 Vollinger went to his ex-girlfriend's house in Bennington to pick up her 4-month-old child and bring it to a baby-sitter. An argument erupted and the woman accused Vollinger of preventing her from leaving the house, assaulting her, and taking her baby to another location where he refused to give it back until police were called off.

Vollinger turned the child over to State Police in Arlington unharmed. The woman said he does not have parental rights to the child. She feared for the child's safety because she claimed Vollinger had made past suicide threats. An element of one of the kidnapping charges was that the child was allegedly in danger.

Bragdon said his client was threatening himself, if anyone, and not the child. He used a scene in Blazing Saddles as an example, where Cleavon Little's character, Bart, takes himself hostage with his own gun in order to escape an angry mob.

At the arraignment hearing, Bragdon had requested the state specify what elements being alleged in the affidavit corresponded to which charges. Vollinger had pleaded not guilty to kidnapping - hostage, kidnapping - other crime or flight, kidnapping a victim under 16, three counts of kidnapping with bodily injury or fear, second degree unlawful restraint, first degree aggravated domestic assault, misdemeanor domestic assault, and interference with access to emergency services. He pleaded not guilty Monday to a new misdemeanor domestic assault charge and modified versions of the previous charges.

Judge Nancy Corsones said the charges would stand for now and was not swayed by Bragdon's arguments.

Vollinger was ultimately held without bail because getting new charges violated his probation. Corsones said given other pending probation complaints against Vollinger, she would order him held because she has little confidence he would obey conditions.

The state could have also requested Vollinger be held without bail because the potential life maximum sentences on the kidnapping charges offer an incentive to flee. It could have argued the violence elements make Vollinger a danger to the community.

Because he is being held without bail, Vollinger's case must progress within a 60-day timeframe. He is scheduled for a jury drawing in early December.

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


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