BRISTOL — The Vermont State Police’s drug task force arrested Katherine Heffernan, 27, of Bristol on Tuesday, Aug. 7, for knowingly possessing heroin with the intent to distribute it, U.S. District Court documents show.
Drug task force officials say they found more than 60 bags of heroin and more than $9,000 in Heffernan’s Mountain Street home, in her car and on her person. U.S. District Judge John M. Conroy sent Heffernan to jail on Aug. 8. She is due to appear before him again on Aug. 22 for a preliminary hearing in Burlington.
This arrest comes exactly one week after Bristol Police Chief Kevin Gibbs held a public meeting, where more than 100 townspeople discussed a growing drug problem in the area.
According to an affidavit supplied to the court by VSP Detective Matthew Plunkett, at least two informants who were hoping to receive “consideration with respect to potential criminal liability” told Plunkett that Heffernan had been selling heroin from her car and home on 66 Mountain St. in Bristol. With this information and other information that was not included in the affidavit, Plunkett secured a search warrant to explore Heffernan’s residence, vehicle, purse, cell phone and person.
On the evening of Aug. 7, the affidavit states, the Northern Vermont Drug Task Force executed the search warrant and found 57 bags of “a light-brown powdery substance within Heffernan’s bedroom.” Plunkett wrote that he recognized the contents as heroin.
The police also found $8,330 in the bedroom of Heffernan, who, according to Plunkett, told the police she is unemployed.
At the time the search warrant was executed, Chief Gibbs said that the state police stopped Heffernan on Lincoln Road by Bartlett’s Falls. According to Plunkett’s affidavit, officers found 10 additional bags of heroin by her driver’s side door and $1,143 in cash in her purse.
In U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin’s motion for detention, he noted, “The United States has reason to believe that Heffernan is addicted to and regularly uses heroin.” The motion of detention also points to one possible incident in June, when Heffernan might have distributed heroin in a prison setting.
In a Vermont Department of Corrections incident report, correction officials allege that Heffernan might have brought her husband, Dean Heffernan, heroin while he was incarcerated at Rutland’s Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility.
The Chittenden County State’s Attorney charged Dean Heffernan with attempted murder of the first degree in August 2011. When he was arrested, the state police searched the Heffernans’ home and found what they said was 14 bags of heroin, some hashish, a handgun and various narcotic tablets.
Dean Heffernan has entered into a plea deal, according to the court’s docket report, and his sentencing is set for Sept. 11.
When the state police took Katherine Heffernan into custody, they noticed another car in the parking lot where they stopped her, Chief Gibbs said. A Bristol police officer went to check on that car and found two women in it. As the police recorded their license information, another car rolled up.
Gibbs said that the operator of the second car, who they identified as 45-year-old Richard Lattrell of New Haven, turned off the car’s lights when he noticed the police. As one officer approached the car, Police said Lattrell started the vehicle and drove at the officer, who barely avoided the car and was then almost hit by another car coming up the road.
A chase ensued, and Lattrell was arrested in Lincoln. He was arraigned at Chittenden County Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to three charges: reckless endangerment, providing false information to an officer and attempting to elude an officer. The next hearing involving his case is set for Monday at 1 p.m. at the Addison County Courthouse.
Gibbs said the police are uncertain if there is a connection between Lattrell and Heffernan.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected]