Vermont State Police Log: Troopers warn of uptick in fraudulent schemes

ADDISON COUNTY — State police at the New Haven barracks are working with several police agencies in California investigating numerous recent reports of fraud. The investigation does not suggest that the recent cases are linked in any way.
Trends have been phone calls or Internet orders to rural businesses around Addison County where an order is made and money is exchanged. In some cases, purchases are being bought with stolen credit cards and, in other cases, businesses are swindled into sending money to the offender(s) via MoneyGram or Western Union to California.
Troopers are warning community members about the recent increase in fraudulent reports they have received. The Vermont State Police would like to caution community members about the dangers of sending any amount of money to an unknown source.
Anyone with information on such Internet and phone frauds is encouraged to contact the Vermont State Police at 802-388-4919. Information can also be submitted anonymously online at www.vtips.info or by texting “CRIMES” (274637) to Keyword: VTIPS.
In other recent activity, troopers:
•  While on patrol on March 12 at 3:50 p.m. on Upper Notch Road in Bristol checked the registration of a vehicle and found it was reported stolen. The trooper stopped the vehicle and determined that the driver, identified as Shannon Gilmore-Manning, 35, of Ripton, was not involved in the theft of the vehicle. However, police cited Gilmore-Manning with possession of marijuana.
•  On March 13 at approximately 1:45 p.m. responded to a one-car crash on Route 7 in Pittsford, in which the vehicle had overturned. Police determined that John C. Lewis, 77, of Salisbury was driving a 2010 Jeep Patriot northbound, when he traveled onto the shoulder of the road, collided with some trees and overturned. Lewis suffered abrasions and contusions and was treated at the Rutland Regional Medical Center; the Jeep was totaled.
•  On March 13 at approximately 3:38 p.m. responded to a complaint of suspicious activity at a County Road home in Lincoln; a 911 call had been placed from that residence and screaming voices could be heard in the background by the call taker. Upon arrival, troopers learned an altercation had taken place and they subsequently took Donna M. Brown, 47, of Lincoln into custody and cited her for aggravated domestic assault. They lodged Brown at the Chittenden County Correctional Center.
•  On March 13 at approximately 6:46 p.m. responded to a 911 hang up in Bridport, where they found that a juvenile had allegedly assaulted the victim during a family fight. The juvenile was later located and taken into custody and cited for domestic assault. The juvenile was then transported to a juvenile detention center to be housed until a scheduled court appearance.
•  On March 13 began investigation of the theft of a motocross motorcycle that was taken without payment during a private sale in Bridport. The 2008 Honda CRF 450R motocross motorcycle is red with a seat with red sides and the words “Honda” on the side with a flat black saddle. On Wednesday troopers announced that they had found the bike on Route 22A in Orwell.
•  On March 14 at 10:18 p.m. stopped a car driven by Christopher Roucoulet, 34, of Milton for a traffic violation on Route 7 in Ferrisburgh. Police cited Roucoulet for driving with a criminally suspended license.
•  On March 14 at 11 p.m. responded to a one-vehicle crash in which a Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Alexander Strothe, 20, of New York City had been traveling westbound on Route 125 in Ripton, when the vehicle failed to negotiate a turn while descending a hill on the snow-covered road. Police said the Jeep was traveling too fast. When Strothe lost control of the Jeep, it slid off the north side of the road and overturned. Police gave Strothe a written warning for speeding.
(Editor’s note: Months after this log was posted, a person who identified himself as Alexander Strothe contacted the Independent and said his age was inaccurate (the trooper had reported it as 21, but the person said he was still 20 at the time of the incident, so we changed it to 20) and that he was not driving over the speed limit and that he never received a written warning. In an email exchange, the editor explained, “The police said you were traveling too fast, not that you were speeding. I included that detail because it implies that you were not drunk or otherwise chemically impaired, just driving faster than was safe on snow-covered roads.” The Independent attempted to contact the trooper who had submitted the original press release, but found out he has since moved on to another police force. The Independent then spoke with a sargent at the New Haven state police barracks who checked the records from this incident and said he couldn’t definitively say if the trooper had issued a written warning, and that that kind of information was no always kept. The Independent will let the reader decide if the trooper actually issued the written warning or not, since we do not know from the paper trail and we have no reason to question the truthfulness of the person who said he was Alexander Strothe or the trooper who issued the press release.)
•  On March 15 were called to investigate vandalism to a mailbox on Satterly Road in Ferrisburgh that had occurred sometime between 9 p.m. on the 14th and 8 a.m. on the 15th. Anyone with information is asked to contact VSP.
•  On March 15 at approximately 9:49 a.m. cited Debra Gonzalez, 33, of Moriah, N.Y., for giving false information to police. The trooper reported that Gonzalez gave false identification to police on a traffic stop on Route 17 at Chimney Point in Addison because she was attempting to avoid a ticket for driving with a suspended license.
•  On March 17 at approximately 12:12 a.m. stopped a car driven by Paul Robert Szczerbak, 47, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on Route 22A in Panton for speeding. The trooper noted signs of intoxication and found that Szczerbak’s privilege to drive in Vermont was criminally suspended for an earlier count of driving under the influence. He cited Szczerbak for DUI, second offense, and for driving with a criminally suspended license.
•  On March 17 at 1:08 a.m. stopped a motor vehicle on Route 7 in New Haven for erratic operation, and cited Dwayne B. Tillotson, 63, of Piermont, N.H., for driving under the influence of alcohol.
•  On March 17 at 1:31 a.m. received a report that a vehicle was being driven erratically and on the wrong side of the road on Route 7 in Ferrisburgh. State police located and stopped this vehicle on Route 7 in Ferrisburgh, and cited the driver, identified as William Joos, 51, of North Ferrisburgh, for driving under the influence and for careless and negligent driving.
•  On March 17 at 4:08 p.m. were called to look for a Ferrisburgh woman who was reported missing by her husband.  On Wednesday, troopers announced they had found the woman, but did not provide any details. (In July 2016, the woman called and asked if her name could be removed and gave a plausible reason why it should be, so the Independent removed the name.)
•  On March 17 at 11:49 p.m. stopped a car driven by Christopher P. Howe, 35, of Brandon on Route 7 in Pittsford, and cited Howe for driving under the influence.
•  On March 18 at 1:30 p.m. observed Alexandra Parks, 24, of Bristol nodding off behind the wheel while in a Route 7 pull-off in front of a moving train in New Haven. The trooper said he saw her head dropping and her vehicle moving forward, because the vehicle was in gear. Upon speaking with the driver, the trooper suspected she was under the influence of a controlled substance. He said he found she was in possession of numerous regulated pills, including Clonazepam and Oxycodone, without a prescription. He cited Parks for driving under the influence of drugs and felony possession of controlled substances, and the trooper said charges were pending for reckless endangerment because her child was in the back seat of the vehicle.
•  On March 18 at 4:30 p.m. cited Michael L. Stevens, 28, of Pittsfield for driving with a suspended license on Route 100 at the intersection with Route 125 in Hancock.
•  On March 18 at 9:15 p.m. stopped, for defective equipment, a motor vehicle driven by Traci G. Payne, 42, of Cornwall on Swamp Road in Cornwall. Police cited Payne for driving under the influence, fourth offense.

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