Two face drug charges after raid

BENNINGTON — A Shaftsbury man and woman face drug charges following a raid at their Church Street home.

Jennifer A. Onorato, 36, Jacob A. Smith, 40 were arrested on Oct. 13 following a drug investigation that turned up just over 100 grams of marijuana and evidence of cultivation, as well as drug paraphernalia associated with heroin use.

Law enforcement began investigating after learning about two Facebook posts allegedly made by the woman, according to police.

Onorato and Smith each pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court Bennington Criminal Division on Monday to felony marijuana possession two ounces or more and cultivating more than 10 marijuana plants, and misdemeanor heroin possession—less than 200 mg.

Judge John W. Valente released them both with conditions, including that they follow existing probation conditions. Both will return to court on Dec. 15.

A Department of Children and Family Services employee on Oct. 10 reported information they had received about a foster parent, according to an affidavit by Bennington County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Morin.

Screen shots of two Facebook posts allegedly made by Onorato were given to police. One post stated: "It's Harvest time too bad half our crops were prematurely stolen. Some people are too dumb or lazy to grow they're own." (sic) A second post allegedly showed a photo of an arm that appears to be Onorato holding a pot plant.

Police obtained a warrant to search the home, which they did on Oct. 13 at about 11:45 a.m.

Police seized 3.6 ounces of marijuana and found 21 plastic cups containing potting soil and marijuana seeds, as well as grow equipment including a light and fertilizer.

Police also discovered a hypodermic needle with suspected heroin and items consistent with heroin use including baggies, cotton balls, bent spoons, and used needles.

The investigation was conducted by deputies with the Bennington County Sheriff's Department and troopers with the Vermont State Police Shaftsbury barracks.

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


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