BENNINGTON — A man on supervised release is now facing potential life sentences after being accused of breaking into a Bennington home and four businesses over the weekend.
Ashton Lanfair, 26, pleaded not guilty Monday to three charges of burglary and one charge of attempted burglary. Because he already has multiple felony convictions on his record, he could be penalized up to life in prison on each of the new charges, according to court documents.
Lanfair, who appeared in court via video link from Southern State Correctional Facility, was ordered held without bail.
According to police accounts, Lanfair went on a break-in spree between Saturday evening and Sunday morning, when he targeted five locations in Bennington.
LOCAL BUSINESSES AND HOME
It reportedly started around 8:45 p.m. Saturday, when the alarm went off at People’s United Bank, in Bennington Square. The Bennington Police Department said officers found that someone had broken into the bank, but nothing appeared to have been stolen.
While officers were still investigating the bank break-in, the BPD said it received a call about another alarm going off: at the Bennington Beverage Outlet, a liquor store on Northside Drive. It said investigators found that someone had tried but failed to break in to the store; witnesses heard glass breaking and saw a man running from the scene.
Bennington police said they were able to “develop a suspect” based on information from surveillance videos and the way the burglaries were conducted. Police said they went to the suspect’s residence but weren’t able to find him.
After midnight, around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, the BPD said it responded to a call about glass being broken at a residence on Monument Avenue. The homeowner apparently woke to the sound of breaking glass, discovered a broken sliding glass door and saw a figure running away. Nothing was reported stolen.
Several hours later, just before 6 a.m., Bennington police said they received a burglary report from Martin’s Mobil, a convenience store on Main Street. Employees who had just arrived for work apparently saw a broken glass window as well as missing cigarettes and lottery tickets. Information about the suspect, investigators said, matched that of the liquor store suspect from the previous night.
At 7:30 a.m., Bennington police said they responded to another report of a broken window — this time at Moulton’s Spectacle Shoppe on Main Street. Officers said the store had been broken into, and the owner found eight pairs of Ray-Ban sunglasses missing. They were estimated to cost $550.
ARREST ON SUNDAY
Three hours later, police said the owner of the Monument Avenue home that had been broken into reported seeing a person near the Bennington Museum who looked like the man who’d run from his home that morning.
Responding officers said they found Lanfair — the same man they’d been looking for after the bank and liquor store break-ins the night before.
After Lanfair’s arrest, the BPD said a local resident went to the police station with a duffel bag she’d found in a wooded area near the Bennington Museum. Police said it contained several Ray-Ban sunglasses.
“The resident had been participating with her family in the Bennington Museum’s Easter Egg Hunt when she located the duffel bag,” according to a BPD news release.
Lanfair had been on furlough when he was arrested, according to court proceedings Monday. Police earlier said he had been living in the state Department of Corrections’ transitional housing in Bennington.
Furlough allows prison inmates deemed low risk to be released into the community before they complete their prison sentences. During this period, they remain under the strict supervision of the DOC.
The DOC’s inmate information online shows that Lanfair has been convicted of multiple felonies that occurred between 2014 and last year. They were for burglary, driving under the influence and aggravated vehicle operation without consent.
When Lanfair returns to court, the prosecution will arraign him on another charge of attempted burglary from the weekend incidents, said county Deputy State’s Attorney Alex Burke. Lanfair is being represented by defense attorney Rick Burgoon.