Newport Jewelers has first burglary in 34 years

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Newport Jewelers in Newport was burglarized early Monday morning, the first time that’s happened in the 34 years that Lincoln and Jo-Ann Brooks have owned the store.    Photo by Joseph Gresser

Newport Jewelers in Newport was burglarized early Monday morning, the first time that’s happened in the 34 years that Lincoln and Jo-Ann Brooks have owned the store. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle June 3, 2015

by Tena Starr

NEWPORT — For the first time in the 34 years that Newport Jewelers has been in business, it’s been burglarized, said Lincoln Brooks, who owns the store with his wife, Jo-Ann.

At 4 a.m. on Monday, someone broke into the store, broke two jewelry cases, and “snatched and ran,” Mr. Brooks said.

He said that, as of Tuesday, they had not yet done an inventory so were not sure exactly what was missing, though he believes it could have been considerably worse.

A press release from the Newport Police Department says police responded to the alarm at 4:08 a.m. When they arrived, they found a broken window, and two display cases were broken “and items strewn about.”

The Main Street burglary was certainly brazen, Mr. Brooks said….To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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contact Tena Starr at tenas@bartonchronicle.com

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Ray charged with first-degree murder

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Orleans County Deputy Sheriff Phil Brooks with Jeffrey M. Ray of Brownington, who pled innocent in Superior Court Monday to first degree murder.  Mr. Ray, who is being held without bail, is accused of shooting another Brownington man, Rick Vreeland, Monday morning.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Orleans County Deputy Sheriff Phil Brooks with Jeffrey M. Ray of Brownington, who pled innocent in Superior Court Monday to first degree murder. Mr. Ray, who is being held without bail, is accused of shooting another Brownington man, Rick Vreeland, Monday morning. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle May 27, 2015

by Tena Starr  

NEWPORT — Jeffrey M. Ray, 51, of Brownington pled innocent here Tuesday to first degree murder and was held without bail.

Mr. Ray is accused of shooting and killing Rick Vreeland, 53, his former wife’s husband, on Monday.

Mr. Ray appeared in the Criminal Division of Orleans Superior Court looking the worse for wear. He was hospitalized on Monday as a result of a struggle with his son, who said he tried to take the gun away from Mr. Ray, his father, after Mr. Ray shot Mr. Vreeland, the boy’s stepfather, a police affidavit says.

The shooting apparently wasn’t a big surprise to those who knew the two men. Police affidavits indicate they had been at odds for years. Mr. Ray had repeatedly….To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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In Newport: Guns, drugs stolen from police evidence room

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Mikeal Rivers.  Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police

Mikeal Rivers. Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police

copyright the Chronicle February 11, 2015 

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — Police say they arrested a man Sunday night whose pockets bulged with drugs and guns stolen from the Newport Police Department’s evidence room. The thefts could place some prosecutions in jeopardy, according to the affidavit filed in the case by State Police Sergeant Matthew Amadon.

Orleans County State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett declined to comment on what effect the theft might have on her office’s work. She said it will take several days to review cases connected to the stolen evidence.

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Dions plead innocent to deer poaching charges

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Wayne and Jennie Dion of Irasburg pose with the two bucks they shot on opening weekend of rifle season in 2008.  Mr. Dion’s deer was an eight-pointer and weighed 190 pounds.  Ms. Dion’s deer was a six-pointer and weighed 160 pounds.  Photos courtesy of the Dions

Wayne and Jennie Dion of Irasburg pose with the two bucks they shot on opening weekend of rifle season in 2008. Mr. Dion’s deer was an eight-pointer and weighed 190 pounds. Ms. Dion’s deer was a six-pointer and weighed 160 pounds. Photos courtesy of the Dions

copyright the Chronicle January 14, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — State game wardens staking out the Irasburg home of Wayne R. Dion, 66, and Jennie A. Dion, 61, say they heard a gunshot during the night before hunting season opened. They say their investigation turned up evidence of several violations of hunting laws.

Mr. Dion appeared in the Criminal Division of Orleans County Superior Court Tuesday where he pled innocent to failure to tag big game, baiting deer, feeding deer, taking game by illegal method-using a light, taking deer out of season, taking a big game animal by illegal means, taking a bird in closed season, possessing a big game animal taken by illegal means or in closed season, and transporting big game taken by illegal means or in closed season.

Ms. Dion pled innocent to possessing a big game animal taken by illegal means or in closed season.

Both were released on conditions by Judge Timothy Tomasi.

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Gang presence has been felt in Vermont, says DOC

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The Newport courthouse.  Drawing by Lori Halsey

The Newport courthouse. Drawing by Lori Halsey

Clarification, added December 11, 2014:  

In the article on Vermont gang activity, we quoted Brian Mclaughlin as saying the Latin Kings have a presence in Barton. Mr. Mclaughlin has contacted the Chronicle to say the quote was accurate, but he only used Barton as an example of a small community where a gang might turn up. The Latin Kings do not have a house in Barton, Mr. Mclaughlin now says.


 

copyright the Chronicle December 10, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — Gangs don’t appreciate Vermont’s scenery Brian Mclaughlin of the Department of Corrections told an audience of about 25 social service agency and law enforcement representatives Tuesday. They do like something that most state residents cherish, a sense of safety, but mostly “they’re here strictly for the money,” Mr. Mclaughlin said.

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Dions accused of elaborate poaching scheme

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Wayne and Jennie Dion of Irasburg pose with the two bucks they shot on opening weekend of rifle season in 2008.  Mr. Dion’s deer was an eight-pointer and weighed 190 pounds.  Ms. Dion’s deer was a six-pointer and weighed 160 pounds.  Photos courtesy of the Dions

Wayne and Jennie Dion of Irasburg pose with the two bucks they shot on opening weekend of rifle season in 2008. Mr. Dion’s deer was an eight-pointer and weighed 190 pounds. Ms. Dion’s deer was a six-pointer and weighed 160 pounds. Photos courtesy of the Dions

copyright the Chronicle November 26, 2014

by Tena Starr

An Irasburg couple will be brought to court next month for allegedly running an elaborate deer poaching operation that included baiting and spotlights in their well concealed backyard and a gun portal in a wall of their house.

Wayne Dion, 66, and Jennie Dion, 63, are facing multiple charges related to deer baiting and illegal hunting, Major Dennis Reinhardt, who is in charge of law enforcement for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, said Monday.

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Charges against Roger Pion near dismissal

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Attorney David Sleigh (left) represents Roger Pion in Orleans Superior Court.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Attorney David Sleigh (left) represents Roger Pion in Orleans Superior Court. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle October 1, 2014

by Paul Lefebvre

NEWPORT — The Newport man who crushed multiple police cruisers with a tractor just over two years ago could be only weeks away from seeing all 16 charges arising from the incident dismissed.

At a hearing here Tuesday in the Criminal Division of Superior Court, both the prosecutor and the defense attorney agreed with psychiatric findings that Roger Pion, 36, of Newport was insane at the time of the incident.

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Two Barton men charged for child porn

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William Allen reacts to an argument in favor of $250,000 bail from Assistant Attorney General Evan Meenan (not visible).  He appeared in the Criminal Division of Orleans Superior Court with his lawyer Zack Weight Monday and pled innocent to six felony charges related to distributing child pornography.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

William Allen reacts to an argument in favor of $250,000 bail from Assistant Attorney General Evan Meenan (not visible). He appeared in the Criminal Division of Orleans Superior Court with his lawyer Zack Weight Monday and pled innocent to six felony charges related to distributing child pornography. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle June 25, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT— An online investigation led to the arrest Monday of two Barton men on child pornography charges. The two cases appear to be unrelated to each other.

William M. Allen, 29, and Colton E. Chenard, 21, appeared Monday in the Criminal Division of Orleans Superior Court where they denied charges of “promoting visual sexual recordings.”

Mr. Allen pled innocent to six such felony charges, and Mr. Chenard pled innocent to four. If convicted, each man faces the possibility of a ten-year prison sentence on each charge.

Judge Howard VanBenthuysen released Mr. Chenard, who has no prior record, on $25,000 bail. Mr. Allen, though, is being held at Northern State Correctional Facility for lack of $250,000 bail.

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Exhibit brings Gerald Bull back to light

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The Gerald Bull exhibit at the Sutton, Quebec, museum includes large photographs of the cannons at the international Space Research compound.  The gun in the top photo has a 172-foot-long barrel.  Photo by Chris Braithwaite

The Gerald Bull exhibit at the Sutton, Quebec, museum includes large photographs of the cannons at the international Space Research compound. The gun in the top photo has a 172-foot-long barrel. Photo by Chris Braithwaite

copyright the Chronicle June 4, 2014

by Chris Braithwaite

SUTTON, Quebec — People who end up on the wrong side of history tend to fade quickly from public view. Too quickly, perhaps, because history is not entirely written by its heroes.

Though he was once vital to its economy, Orleans County has no streets or schools or public parks that grateful community leaders have named for Gerald Bull.

And though it must stand as the most disturbingly fascinating place in the region, the headquarters of Mr. Bull’s Space Research Corporation are all but impossible to find. A narrow dirt road runs into the woods off a back road out of North Troy. There’s a For Sale sign outside the rusting gates, whose No Trespassing signs warn off the curious.

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Community Justice Part II: Senate bill pushes new ways to deal with crime

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The theory of restorative justice is neatly summed up in this chart created by John Perry, whose work helped in the creation of Vermont’s system.  “I’ve used this chart in presentations around the country,” Mr. Perry said when asked for permission to use the diagram.  “It might as well be published in Vermont.”

The theory of restorative justice is neatly summed up in this chart created by John Perry, whose work helped in the creation of Vermont’s system. “I’ve used this chart in presentations around the country,” Mr. Perry said when asked for permission to use the diagram. “It might as well be published in Vermont.”

copyright the Chronicle March 19, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

If a bill passed last week by the Vermont Senate becomes law, it will be the latest step in Vermont’s very long struggle to find new, and better, ways to deal with criminals.  That struggle began about 20 years ago, with a group of young idealists, led by a visionary Westmore man, reshaping how justice is meted out.

The recently approved Senate bill would allow some offenders — primarily those who pose no threat to public safety — the option of participating in a nontraditional program, such as the community justice program that operates in Newport.

Its intent is “that law enforcement officials and criminal justice professionals develop and maintain programs at every stage of the criminal justice system to provide alternatives to a traditional punitive criminal justice response….”

In the nontraditional reparative justice program, community volunteers work with an offender to develop a plan for making amends to the victims of his crime and to repair the damage done by his actions.

That program was developed about two decades ago by a group of young workers at the state Department of Corrections (DOC), with support from several governors and an important contribution from a longtime resident of Westmore, Bill Page.

In the 1970s the nation was seized by a fear of violent crime, and a concern that prisons were not fulfilling the intended purpose of rehabilitation.  John Martinson, a noted researcher on the subject, grew pessimistic about the results of all the programs he investigated.

He wrote an article for the magazine Public Interest setting out his findings, an article whose conclusion, usually summarized under the heading “Nothing works,” was spread throughout the popular media.

Around the country, prisons were generally seen only as a means to keep offenders from harming law-abiding citizens.  Legislators followed the public mood and voted for increasingly harsh sentences for all manner of offenses.

A group of new officials at the Vermont DOC, however, thought they could find a solution to what seemed an intractable problem.

“We were arrogant, brash and young enough not to know better,” recalled John Perry in a recent telephone interview.  Mr. Perry retired from the DOC as director of planning in 2011.  “We thought we could make a difference,” he said.

They began in ignorance.

“We knew crime was increasing — increasing like crazy in the late ’70s and ’80s,” Mr. Perry said.

What the young officials at the DOC did not know was that the increase was in reported crime, not actual crime.

In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Vermont experienced an influx of new residents coming from other parts of the country.  One of the things they brought with them was an expectation of what government was supposed to do, Mr. Perry said.  As a result, the new residents tended to call police for assistance more often than the locals had.

As in other states, Vermont legislators reacted to what they perceived as an increase in crime by increasing penalties in an attempt to stem it.

The result, recalled former DOC Commissioner John Gorczyk in a telephone interview, was “an explosion in incarceration without an increase in crime.”

The DOC, in those days, was “underfunded, overcrowded and under-loved,” Mr. Perry said.

But young, idealistic officials were put in a position to make changes to the system when Governor Richard Snelling brought William Ciuros to Vermont to take over the DOC.  Mr. Ciuros forced the department’s old guard out and installed “the new kids” in their place, Mr. Perry said.

Those included Joseph Patrissi, then deputy commissioner, Mr. Gorczyk, and Mr. Perry.  Mr. Patrissi is currently executive director of Northeast Kingdom Community Action (NEKCA).

Mr. Ciuros got his deputies to cut their long hair and change their attire from woolen shirts to suits.

“We worked 12 hour days,” Mr. Perry recalled.  “I never worked so hard in my life.”

Mr. Ciuros soon ran afoul of Governor Snelling and was dismissed, to be replaced by Con Hogan, but his team remained in place.

Among other initiatives, they started letting nonviolent offenders serve their sentences in the community, or on weekends, so they could continue working, Mr. Patrissi said.

That program hit a hard bump when the son of vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Farraro was arrested at Middlebury College with two and a half pounds of cocaine, said Mr. Perry.

He met the qualifications for release, except for having a residence in Vermont, Mr. Perry recalled.  That was quickly managed, but the national media soon descended on Vermont to photograph the sign saying “luxury condominiums” outside his apartment complex, Mr. Perry said.

Madeleine Kunin had just been elected governor, and she tried to provide political cover for the DOC by creating the Community Corrections Advisory Board, Mr. Patrissi said.

She appointed Mr. Page to the board, as well as John Downs, a founding partner at Downs, Rachlin and Martin, and Fay Honey Knopp, a director of the Safer Society Foundation.  The Safer Society program is a national referral service for sex offenders seeking therapy.  She was also the founder of the Prison Research Education Action Program.  Also on the committee was Jack Coleman, a former president of Haverford College who spent a sabbatical from his job as an inmate at a Pennsylvania prison.  Mr. Coleman was a friend of the warden, who was the only one who knew he was there voluntarily, Mr. Perry said.

Mr. Patrissi and Mr. Page had already met, at a book club meeting at Mr. Page’s house on Willoughby Lake where both men spent summers.

After the meeting, Mr. Page, who knew Mr. Patrissi was commissioner of corrections, approached him.

“He asked, ‘How would you like to know something about human nature?’” Mr. Patrissi recalled.  “I’d been in corrections 20 years and I was schooled in that side of human nature,” he said.

Mr. Page had been director of corporate planning at the Polaroid Corporation during that firm’s glory years and had learned from the work of E.O. Wilson, a sociobiologist and the world’s foremost expert on ants.  Professor Wilson’s work, which traced the genetic basis of human nature, was being used by Polaroid in its marketing efforts, Mr. Patrissi said.

If Mr. Page decided someone was worthy of his attention, he’d latch on to that person as a teacher, said Mr. Gorczyk.  Both Mr. Perry and Mr. Patrissi called him a mentor.

Mr. Page began running a kind of school for DOC officials, inviting them to his house, or taking them down to the Cambridge, Massachusetts, headquarters of Polaroid for classes with him or other experts.

As Mr. Perry recalled, he outlined some of the basic principles of human nature, including an innate fear of strangers, a preference for working in groups of around six members and, most importantly, the principle of reciprocity.

“If I buy you a drink at a bar,” Mr. Perry said to explain reciprocity, “you had better buy the next round.  If I have to buy the second round, there won’t be a third one, and we won’t be friends.”

Working with Mr. Page and Mr. Downs, the group began to feel its way toward the system of reparative justice.

All felt that a real system of justice had to begin by putting the victim at its center, something that the English system of law, which was largely adopted by most U.S. states, did not do.

A reading of history, Mr. Perry said, shows the English originally had a system of law that rated the worth of an individual by his or her rank and punished offenses with fines that were proportional to the crime.

The basic idea, Mr. Perry said, was that a village needed all of its citizens if it was to function, so disputes had to be resolved in a way that would not cause the loss of someone’s skills to the community.

When William the Conqueror took over England in 1066, he assigned his son the task of creating a system of colonial law, Mr. Perry said.  That law treated every crime as an offense against the king, who was presumed to own everything in the country.  Fines were no longer paid to a victim, but were given to the king, and many crimes were punished by death or mutilation.

Vermont, in its Constitution, bans the latter form of punishment, which it calls “sanguinary punishment,” Mr. Perry said, so a system that turned away from the English model could be seen as being in accord with the intent of the state’s founders.

Mr. Perry found similar ways of meting out justice in such native societies as the Navaho, who resolve criminal offenses with a series of meetings or circles which seek to define the nature of the crime and gradually, through discussion, to find a way to mend the damage.

Whenever they hit a problem, Mr. Page would create a report that analyzed the situation in detail and proposed a solution, Mr. Perry said.

“He was right every damned time,” he recalled.

Mr. Patrissi said Mr. Page showed great patience with the group.

“Here we were, with this genius, who already knew where this was going to go,” he said.  “We were in the hands of a genius.”

When Governor Snelling returned to office after Governor Kunin finished her last term, he called Mr. Patrissi in and demanded 12 great ideas, Mr. Patrissi said.

He liked the proposal for a reparative justice program and, after his sudden death, so did his replacement, Governor Howard Dean.

In order to figure out how to sell the program to Vermonters, the DOC wrote a grant and hired a polling firm to conduct the sort of market research that might be undertaken before a company like Proctor and Gamble launches a product, said Mr. Perry.

After conducting focus groups and an extensive telephone poll, the results were in.  The people of Vermont hated the DOC, they also disliked the state’s attorneys, criminal defense lawyers and judges.  They did like juries, though, Mr. Perry said.

“They trusted themselves,” he concluded.

Vermonters were also very positive about the reparative justice system when it was explained to them.  The polls showed 92 to 94 percent favorability ratings, Mr. Perry said.

“Nothing gets 94 percent favorability ratings,” he said.

The first attempts at operating a reparative justice system were run through the DOC, but it soon became clear that the program would work better if it were handled by community members through an organization outside state government.

That led to the creation of community justice centers.

Over the years, the results of the reparative board have proved the worth of the idea.  A 2007 study was hard to publish, said Mr. Perry, because journals found it hard to believe that recidivism could be reduced in Vermont by 26 percent through the process.

Since the creation of restorative justice programs, Vermont has been frequently visited by representatives from other states and other countries seeking to learn from the state’s experience.

Because Vermont has a unified corrections system, unlike other states with county, city and other government subdivisions running jails, its database is the most comprehensive in the country — a boon for researchers, Mr. Perry said.

Still, he and Mr. Gorczyk said they are not satisfied with the system as it exists.  They feel it is underused.

Mr. Perry said he is pleased to see many schools are beginning to use the principles of restorative justice is dealing with infractions such as bullying.  The results, he said, are very promising.

State law prohibits the use of reparative boards for some crimes, such as domestic abuse.  Mr. Perry said he regrets that and believes the practice can achieve excellent results in those cases, if used properly.

Mr. Gorczyk said he has been pessimistic about the future of reparative justice until recently, but said the new Senate-passed bill is giving him renewed hope.

For Mr. Perry, it’s important to take the long view.

“We’re only 20 years into what will be a 100-year process,” he said.

This is the second of a three-part series on community justice.  The first part was in the February 19 issue of the Chronicle, and can be read here.

contact Joseph Gresser at joseph@bartonchronicle.com

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