Man facing gun charges returned to jail

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BURLINGTON — A Pownal man who is facing a so-called "lying and buying" scheme to illegally obtain multiple firearms for somebody else has been ordered returned to prison after he tried to overdose on THC and heroin, court records show.

A federal grand jury indicted Adam D. Whitman, 26, in February on two counts of providing false information during the purchases of three semi-automatic firearms at two Bennington County stores in 2017, records show. He claimed the guns were for him while the government maintains they were for somebody else.

Whitman pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Burlington on Feb. 20 to the felony charges and was released two days later on conditions, including he was to participate in substance abuse therapy if deemed advisable by the U.S. Probation Office.

Whitman enrolled in McPike Drug Treatment, a residential program in early June, but left against medical advice on June 14, Federal Magistrate John M. Conroy said during a court hearing Thursday afternoon.

Whitman met with his federal probation officer on June 21 "and stated that last night he intentionally tried to overdose of heroin and THC. A drug screen resulted in a presumptive positive for both heroin and THC," Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Darrow said in court papers.

"It appears that he is unlikely to abide by conditions of release and is a danger to himself," Darrow wrote.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Brittany Prue arrested Whitman in Albany, N.Y., on June 21 and brought him to Vermont. He had been required to live with his mother in the Albany-Troy area since his release in February.

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Assistant Federal Public Defender Barclay Johnson told Conroy that Whitman is interested in drug treatment and at some point they may return to court with a plan for possible pre-trial release.

Whitman is charged with making a false statement during the purchase of a Smith & Wesson 9-mm semi-automatic pistol from Lost Target Shooting Supplies in Pownal on Jan. 23, 2017.

Whitman also is charged with making false statements on Jan. 25 and 26, 2017 at the Bennington Trading Post on Northside Drive in order to buy a Taurus 9-mm pistol and a Ruger .380-pistol, along with two 50-round boxes of ammunition, the indictment maintains.

Conroy had said in February that Whitman had "a significant substance history," but a minor criminal record. The convictions include false information to police in 2011 and disturbing a school assembly in 2008, Conroy said.

The false statements were designed to deceive the business owner into believing Whitman was buying the gun for himself, but it was actually for a third person, the indictment said.

The person actually seeking the guns was not identified in court papers.

The persons wanting the firearms are prohibited from purchasing them because often times they either are convicted felons or known drug users that are blocked from buying guns under the law.


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