Bennington woman's uncle, husband charged after her OD death

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BENNINGTON — A Bennington woman's uncle and husband have been charged in relation to selling and dispensing narcotics that resulted in her death, according to the Bennington Police Department.

Craig S. Whitman, 52, of Pownal, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to three charges: a felony count of selling or dispensing a regulated drug with death resulting, a felony count of selling narcotics, and misdemeanor conspiracy to sell a regulated drug, states a Vermont Superior Court docket. The deceased, Abbie Cummings, 34, was Whitman's niece.

Whitman is currently on federal probation for conspiracy to distribute controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury. On Aug. 27, the United States Marshals issued a detainer for Whitman based on his violation of supervised release. A federal arrest warrant was also issued for Whitman for his violation of supervised release for use of cocaine, failure to report for urine testing, and failure to appear for substance abuse treatment.

Phillip Cummings, 39, of Bennington, who was Abbie Cummings' husband, also pleaded not guilty to three felony charges Wednesday: accessory after the fact, sales of a narcotic, and conspiracy to sell a regulated drug, states the docket.

Abbie Cummings was pronounced dead at her home at 144 Benmont Ave. on July 28 around 2 p.m. Autopsy reports released in August state that Cummings had a "moderate to high" concentration of Oxycodone in her system, according to the affidavit. The death was ruled accidental and due to the abuse of non-prescribed medication, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit, written by Detective Sgt. Lawrence Cole, states that an unnamed informant who used to sell Percocet pills — which are a mixture of Oxycodone and acetaminophen — for Whitman detailed Whitman's involvement with buying and selling prescription pills. The informant provided both audio and written sworn statements.

This informant, whose real name and gender were not identified, told Cole that they accompanied Whitman when Whitman meets with his drug supplier in New York. According to the affidavit, the informant said Whitman would usually buy 300 Percocets at a time and sell them over a period of three to four days, then return to New York to buy more.

This informant also stated that Phillip Cummings "is the main person that sells the [Percocets] for Whitman," and that he sells 30 to 40 pills a day at a price of $40 to $50 each.

The informant told Cole that they were at 144 Benmont with Whitman "for at least eight hours a day, six to seven days a week, selling/delivering [Percocets] for Whitman."

Cole asked the informant if they had any idea who supplied Cummings with the drugs that led to her death, and the informant said the pills could have come from either Phillip Cummings, or from Whitman himself. However, the affidavit goes on to state that Abbie Cummings was with Whitman for a number of hours prior to her death and that her husband was not present during that time, so the informant believed the pills were given to Cummings by Whitman.

"However, [the informant] was very clear, even if the pills were handed to Abbie by Phillip, Whitman would have been the source of the [Percocets]," stated the affidavit.

Cole met with Whitman at Bennington's Deer Park and heard Whitman's recollection of the events leading up to finding Cummings dead. After Whitman told his story, Cole informed him he was under arrest.

Whitman has an "extensive criminal history" in Vermont including one felony and ten misdemeanor convictions, as well as criminal history in Florida and Colorado.

Both Whitman and Cummings remain incarcerated at Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility for lack of $50,000 bail.

Whitman and Cummings will next appear at court for a discovery conference Sept. 12 at 11 a.m.

Christie Wisniewski can be reached at cwisniewski@benningtonbanner.com and at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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