Local man receives deferred sentence

BENNINGTON — A local man has received a three-year deferred sentence after admitting to drug-related charges.

Spencer E. Morse, 20, was charged after a woman told police in February that he broke her window. Police said Morse had drugs on him when he was arrested and that he told officers that he tried to give the woman prescription drugs in exchange for sex. Then in May, Morse was charged with a felony after he illegally sold two Suboxone strips.

Morse pleaded guilty in Vermont Superior Court Bennington Criminal Division on Monday to felony sale of a narcotic, a charge stemming from his May arrest. In the earlier case, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor unlawful mischief and three counts narcotics possession.

Under a plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed a misdemeanor charge of prohibited acts for procuring prostitution and three counts misdemeanor narcotic possession.

Judge David A. Howard accepted the agreed-upon, three-year deferred sentence for the felony drug charge. Howard said he hopes Morse will continue on the right path and follow his probation conditions under his deferred sentence, noting the $40 he sold the Suboxone for "is not worth five years," the maximum penalty for the narcotics charge.

Morse was arrested after Bennington police were dispatched to a Depot Street home on the night of Feb. 10. A 24-year-old woman told officers Morse had thrown things at her window, according to a court affidavit.

When officers arrested Morse, he had 20 pills on him — a combination of prescription drugs used to treat anxiety, panic disorders and muscle spasms — and one Subutex, a drug used to treat opioid dependence, but didn't have a prescription for any of them.

In an interview with police, Morse said the woman will conduct sexual acts in exchange for prescription medication, according to the affidavit. Morse told police he offered the woman pills, but she told him that he had gotten "the wrong kind of pills" and she refused.

Morse was charged with the felony in July. Bennington police officers conducted a controlled purchase from Morse, according to a court affidavit. An informant payed Morse $40 for two strips of Suboxone, a prescription drug used to treat opioid dependence.

The prohibited act offense that Morse had dismissed is a misdemeanor and under state statute, carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison, a $100 fine, or both.

Deputy State's Attorney Robert Plunkett said the plea agreement was appropriate given Morse's age and lack of a prior criminal history.

Morse's attorney, Katherine Lamson, said the defendant is engaged in a "very strict substance abuse program." "Having the opportunity to not have a permanent felony conviction on his record will be very valuable to him for years to come," she said.

Reach staff writer Edward Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111 or @edamon_banner.


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