BENNINGTON — The state has thrown out its case against a man charged in Bennington County’s largest heroin seizure in three decades after he admitted to violating probation on a prior charge. He was given a suspended prison sentence, except for 18 months, and remains on probation.
Ronald Lee George Jr., 30, of Pownal, was charged in June 2019 with felony drug offenses after a multi-agency police search of his home allegedly yielded 2,035 bags of heroin. Police said they also uncovered 32 grams of crack cocaine and $1,417 in cash during the May 31, 2019, search.
The Bennington County Sheriff’s Department, the lead investigating agency, estimated the seized heroin to be worth at least $40,000. The department spokesman said at the time that it was the largest heroin seizure he has seen in 35 years in Bennington County law enforcement.
George pleaded not guilty to all his five charges, including heroin trafficking and conspiracy to traffic heroin, each punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a $1 million fine.
He also was charged with manufacturing a regulated drug (not marijuana), which has a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or a $1 million fine. Police said George had admitted to manufacturing drugs at his home. On May 5, the Bennington County State’s Attorney’s Office dismissed all of George’s charges, court documents show.
This came after George signed a plea agreement with the prosecutor’s office, resolving separate charges of violating probation on his 2018 burglary convictions. “Defendant admits to possessing heroin in violation of his probation conditions,” according to the agreement signed by George and prosecutor Robert Plunkett.
The terms of the plea agreement included dismissing his five felony drug charges.
For violating probation by possessing heroin, George was sentenced on May 5 to 6 to 12 years in prison, all suspended except for 18 months, approximately the time he had already been detained after the drug seizures at his home. He was also sentenced to four years of probation until Sept. 22, 2022, which covers the period of his previous probationary sentence, plus one day.
His wife, Shelby George, who was charged with the same five felonies, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to traffic heroin and conspiracy to sell cocaine. She was sentenced to probation.
The Bennington County Sheriff’s Department said several other law enforcement agencies took part in the search of the Georges’ residence. They included the Bennington Police Department, Vermont State Police and members of the Berkshire County (Mass.) Drug Task Force.