Mass. men indicted on fentanyl trafficking

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BURLINGTON — Three Holyoke, Mass. area men implicated in a major drug trafficking conspiracy in Bennington County were indicted by a federal grand jury in Vermont on Wednesday.

Branden Fournier, 23, Jonathan "Bovice" Resto, 23, and Anthony "Ant" Casiano, 23, are facing a single-count indictment charging them with knowingly possessing fentanyl on Dec. 20 in Vermont with intent to distribute it. Police said they found about 1,092 bags of fentanyl that day in a safe in a Manchester motel room that the men shared.

Fournier and Resto, who are both being detained, are due to appear Thursday in U.S. District Court in Burlington to enter pleas in their cases. Casiano, who was earlier released on conditions, is due for arraignment Jan. 10 in Burlington.

It will be the first time the men will be asked for a plea since they were arrested during a Dec. 20 raid at the Four Winds Country Motel on Main Street in Manchester. Besides the nearly 1,100 bags of fentanyl seized from a safe during the raid, federal, state and local officers found two baggies with about 22 grams of cocaine, a drug ledger and digital scales found, authorities said.

A lock box with $4,180 in U.S. currency — primarily in $20 bills — was found next to Fournier in his bed, FBI Agent Colin Simons said in a court affidavit.

Fournier became a boss of a drug distribution business following the fatal shooting of his uncle in Townsend in late October, according to court records and a federal prosecutor. Steven Lovely, 43, and Amanda Sanderson, 35, were gunned down and their cabin torched in Townshend on Oct. 27, court records show.

Justin Orwalt, 46, of Springfield, Mass., has denied two counts of aggravated murder and a first degree arson charge in connection with the burning of the cabin where they were staying on Shirley Circle, Vermont State Police said.

Once Lovely was out of the picture, one drug addict reported she turned to Fournier for her drugs, court records show. Resto was listed as equals in their drug business, Simons wrote.

Fournier, Resto and Casiano were all scheduled to have probable cause hearings over the next week, but the finding by the grand jury on Wednesday to charge the trio eliminates the right to hear the evidence against them.

Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy ordered both Fournier and Resto detained because he believed they are each a danger to the community if released. Conroy made an additional finding that Resto also was a risk to flee. The judge withheld a ruling on whether Fournier was a risk of flight.

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