Vergennes police nab pair in heroin sting

VERGENNES — Two Vergennes residents are facing felony heroin possession and sales charges after being snared in a successful sting operation by city police on Oct. 17.
Chelsea A Barrows, 22, and Mark K. Kennedy, 27, pleaded innocent to the charges at their Monday arraignment appearances in Addison Superior Court, criminal division. If convicted, they face penalties of up to five years in jail and/or a fine of up to $100,000 on each charge, according to court records.
The two arrests were the culmination of a lengthy police investigation of goings on at an apartment at 285 Main St. in Vergennes, with neighbors having complained of foot traffic in and out of the residence at all hours of the day, short visits by guests, and the odor of burning marijuana and “conversations about crack cocaine use,” according to a court affidavit submitted by Vergennes Police Officer Brent Newton.
City police established the fact that Barrows and Kennedy were among several people living at 285 Main St., and reported them as having established a pattern of “leaving the apartment, meeting with known and unknown individuals for a short period and then returning to 285 Main St.,” according to Newton’s affidavit.
Police recruited whom they refer to in court records as a “Cooperating Individual (CI)” to organize a heroin buy from Kennedy, whom they suspected was dealing drugs, according to Newton’s affidavit. The CI — who according to Vergennes police had no prior criminal convictions — agreed to cooperate with police in return for “consideration for pending criminal charges,” according to court records.
The CI had a phone number for Kennedy and used it on Oct. 17 to schedule a drug buy, according to court records.
“The CI told me Kennedy had heroin for sale and agreed to sell two bags of heroin to CI for $50,” according to Newton’s affidavit.
So the CI texted Kennedy and recommended the transaction take place at a local store, according to court records. Kennedy allegedly declined to complete the deal at that store due to the presence of security cameras, whereupon the pair agreed to meet at a canoe portage off Main Street, west of the Riverside Apartments, according to Newton’s affidavit.
At around 4 p.m. on the day of the alleged drug sale, city police reported seeing Chelsea Barrows leave 285 Main St. and proceed to the canoe portage to meet the CI, according to court records.
“The two met briefly and began walking back to Main Street together,” Newton’s affidavit states. “The transaction was recorded by (Vergennes Police) Officer Jacob Ouellette.”
The CI later met up with police and turned over the two baggies containing a “white substance” that later tested positive for narcotics, according to court records.
And Barrows allegedly met with more than one client that day, according to city police.
“After reviewing the digital video recorder used by Officer Jacob Ouellette on Oct. 17, it should be noted that Barrows was seen completing other suspected drug transactions throughout the day,” according to Newton’s affidavit.
City police later that day successfully applied for a search warrant and executed it at 285 Main St. at around 9 p.m. that evening, according to court records. Police said they announced themselves at the door but had to use a ram to get in, whereupon they allegedly saw two men run from the living room into a bedroom. Those men were later identified as James Corkins, 44, and Bradley Mahoney, 20, according to police. They encountered a woman identified as Kelsey Rheaume-Fox in the living room of the apartment.
Corkins and Mahoney were issued civil violations for possession of marijuana and later released, according to Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel. He said Rheaume-Fox, described as a 20-year-old residing in Ferrisburgh, was cited for a misdemeanor count of possession of heroin.
Police searched the residence and found, according to court records:
•  A pill bottle containing rice and 20 bags of heroin on top of a dresser in a room used by Kennedy and Barrows, according to police. Also located in that room: an amount of marijuana hash that would qualify as a civil violation, according to police.
•  A black bag containing needles and several used heroin folds.
•  A backpack “found to contain several more needles and heroin preparation (for intravenous use) kits.” The backpack also contained a “civil possession amount of marijuana,” according to police.
•  A marijuana cigarette in the living room.
•  A plastic bag containing “an unknown white powder” in a sugar jar. That substance has not tested positive for heroin or cocaine, according to police.
•  A prescription pill bottle in the freezer that contained a “white powder that appeared consistent with heroin.”
•  Marijuana in a quantity that warrants a civil violation and marijuana smoking pipes in another room.
A Vermont Crime Lab accounting of the evidence seized from the apartment revealed that Barrows and Kennedy were allegedly in possession of a combined total of 638 milligrams of heroin, according to court records. Barrows allegedly sold the CI 63.8 milligrams of heroin, according to Newton’s affidavit.
Merkel credited the Vermont State Police with proving what he said was vital assistance in the Oct. 17 arrests. The Bristol Police Department assisted in efforts to find the two defendants after the warrant was executed.
Additional court action might be forthcoming in connection with the Barrows-Kennedy case, according to Merkel. He hopes the Oct. 17 arrests send a strong message to would-be drug dealers and city residents.
“This was another phase in our efforts to get these people off the streets,” Merkel said.
“We wanted a heavy dose of blue lights to show people we’re not going to put up with this kind of activity.”

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