BURLINGTON — A Bennington woman who was part of a major county-wide drug roundup nine years ago has now been indicted in U.S. District Court on a new federal drug and firearms charge.
Harley Dee Reynolds, 27, pleaded not guilty this month to a felony charge of illegal possession of 9-mm Winchester ammunition on March 15 because she is an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance.
The arrest was part of an ongoing investigation into “criminal organizations and individuals involved in the trafficking, distribution, possession and use of firearms and controlled substances in the Bennington County area,” court records show.
The investigation also is focusing on a series of shootings and reports of shots fired in March in Bennington. Both Bennington and Vermont State police, along with Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI have been investigating. Included in that investigation is the unsolved homicide of a 17-year-old who was shot dead Feb. 2 and found with multiple gunshot wounds on the side of Danby Mountain Road in Danby — about a half hour north of Bennington.
Bennington police were investigating a report of shots fired about 7 p.m. March 15 when an officer at Willow Park saw a white Chevrolet Cavalier with a broken taillight parked in the lot.
The officer reported that Reynolds was a front seat passenger in the car and she had her sleeve rolled up. While interacting with police she made statements that she had been using crack cocaine, court records show. Reynolds and the driver were both released, but police seized the car to obtain a state search warrant for possible drug evidence inside, records show.
The search uncovered a blue and white fanny pack in the foot area below Reynolds’ seat, officials said. The fanny pack had a debit card in Reynolds’ name, a digital scale with white powdery residue, about 6.5 grams of suspected crack cocaine, about 27 bags of suspected heroin/fentanyl, one 9-mm bullet and $368 in cash, court records show.
It was unclear why U.S. Attorney Nikolas “Kolo” Kerest of Shelburne has charged her only with possession of the single bullet and none of the other contents, including the drugs. Kerest has a personal policy of not responding to interview requests from the press about cases.
In the backseat of the car, police found a loaded firearm with no serial number and the pistol’s magazine contained seven 9-mm rounds, records show. In another bag in the backseat police found a set of brass knuckles and another 9-mm round.
Bennington police subsequently arrested Reynolds at the Brookside Apartments on June 1. A female officer searched Reynolds and found in her bra a glass smoking pipe with crack residue and a hypodermic needle, police said.
She was transported to the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility for women in South Burlington, records show. A Vermont state trooper assigned to help transport Reynolds later reported he found 169 bags of suspected heroin/fentanyl on the floor by the backseat where she had been riding, records show.
Reynolds’ criminal record shows several violations of conditions of release and failures to appear for court hearings, records show. There also was an active state warrant in Bennington County.
During a hearing in federal court, the government maintained she was a serious risk to flee and a danger to the community.
Defense lawyer Richard C. Bothfeld of Burlington did not contest the initial request for Reynolds to be detained for the time being. He filed a request for reconsideration on Monday that she be released so she can enroll at Valley Vista, a residential drug rehab center in Vergennes. A bed is available June 27, he wrote.
Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle did agree to give Bothfeld until Sept. 1 to investigate the case and to file any pre-trial motions. The case has been assigned to Judge Christina Reiss in Burlington.
In January 2013, during “Operation County Strike One,” Reynolds was among 48 people arrested from the 63 defendants sought in a wide-ranging drug bust in Bennington.
Police said she was charged with two counts of sale of heroin and single counts of sale of cocaine and sale of crack. Reynolds also was charged with two counts of possession of cocaine and single charges of conspiracy to sell cocaine and conspiracy to sell heroin, court records show.
She eventually pleaded guilty in August 2013 to a single count of conspiracy to sell drugs, the Bennington Banner reported. Reynolds received a 2-to-4 year prison term all suspended and was placed on probation, the newspaper said. It noted the other seven charges were labeled “sealed” and were dismissed.