BBA thankful for arrest of alleged drug dealer

MANCHESTER — The recent arrest of a 21-year-old West Road resident on charges that he was selling marijuana — allegedly to high school students as well as adults — is being seen as "a step in the right direction" by Burr and Burton Academy's leadership.

"Clearly as a school we support all efforts to keep drugs out of our community," acting headmaster Meg Kenny said Friday. "We're so appreciative of the efforts of law enforcement busting what seems to be a source of illegal drugs."

Matthew C. Redmond pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court Bennington Criminal Division on Thursday to the sale of drugs to minors and marijuana possession — 2 ounces or more, both felonies. He also pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor marijuana sale (two counts) and marijuana possession.

Judge David A. Howard, at Redmond's arraignment on Thursday at Vermont Superior Court Bennington Criminal Division, reserved the right to find probable cause to felony charges that Redmond sold drugs to minors on property abutting a school.

According to a probable cause affidavit on that allegation, Redmond told police he sold drugs near the service area of the Equinox Resort. In the affidavit, police said, BBA's property is 463 feet from where the sales allegedly took place.

Kenny said BBA works diligently to prevent substance use and abuse, with efforts including its wellness education curriculum, its support of The Collaborative's "Refuse to Use" program for middle and high schools students, and student discipline for breaking school rules prohibiting substance use.

"We are proactive on our campus in terms of alcohol and drug policy," she said Friday. "When we have violations, we take them seriously."

"Do we catch every case? I'm sure we don't, but we are pretty vigilant," she added. "We want to make sure kids come here free of substances so they can access learning. We're vigilant about keeping substances off our campus."

The school was not approached during the police investigation, Kenny said.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Redmond allegedly told police that he was obtaining a quarter-pound of marijuana per week for $900 from an man from Burlington, who would hide the contents in a stone wall behind a building. According to a police affidavit, Redmond allegedly told police that half of his marijuana clients were BBA students, while the other half were adults.

According to an affidavit of probable cause in the case, "creditable sources" had told police that Redmond was selling other substances, including pills and heroin. In the same affidavit, Redmond, who allegedly waived his Miranda rights, was "adamant" in his conversation with police that he had only sold marijuana.

Police said they seized 28.7 grams (just over an ounce) of suspected marijuana in a search warrant executed Sunday morning, as well as a scale, $864 cash and a ledger.

Manchester officer Christopher Mason, in an affidavit, wrote the department had received complaints of traffic going in and out of Redmond's residence.

Mason was on patrol Sept. 9 when he observed a suspected drug deal in front of Redmond's residence. He said he pulled the car over shortly after when he saw the driver twice cross the center line and seized 2 grams of marijuana from the 16-year-old driver, who told police it had been purchased from Redmond.

Howard set bail at $5,000 and issued release conditions, among them, that Redmond stay under a 24-hour curfew and not have contact with anyone under the age of 18.

Redmond does not have a criminal history. He will return to court on Oct. 30.

Kenny confirmed that Redmond is a former BBA student.

"As a school we try to set values for responsibility, integrity and service. When kids graduate we hope they stay on a productive path that served them well as students," she said. "We hope this situation helps to turn it around [for Redmond] and that he sees this as an opportunity to make a change."

Bennington Banner reporter Ed Damon contributed to this report. Reach Journal editor Greg Sukiennik at 802-490-6000.


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