BENNINGTON — A Bennington man avoided a possible life sentence as a habitual offender when he pleaded guilty Wednesday to one misdemeanor charge of petit larceny and a felony violation of a protective order.
Casey Gras, 34, had numerous charges against him dropped as part of the plea deal with prosecutors, including the dismissal of a habitual offender enhancement just a week ago, which has a life sentence for defendants convicted of three or more felonies in Vermont.
It was unclear whether a felony charge of assault and robbery with injury, which was dropped just prior to the plea deal, was part of the agreement. The Banner reached out to the prosecutor in the case, Robert Plunkett, but he did not respond before press time. However, Plunkett did hint during the hearing that the dismissal would be part of his argument at an upcoming contested sentencing hearing. The Banner also reached out Gras’ defense attorney, Fredrick Bragdon, with no response.
Gras appeared at the change of plea hearing via video from the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland, where he’s been held without bail since his arrest in November.
The dismissed charge stemmed from a 911 call Bennington Police received on Nov. 1 from a victim hiding in a closet after several individuals allegedly broke into a residence at 329 School St., robbing and pistol-whipping the victim.
Gras pleaded guilty to petit larceny from a shoplifting incident at Dollar General in Bennington in January 2021. The violation of a protective order stemmed from an incident in October 2020, in which Gras came within 300 feet of a victim of an earlier domestic abuse conviction.
Bennington Superior Court Judge Cortland Corsones ordered a full pre-sentencing investigation and has scheduled the contested sentencing hearing in six weeks.