2018 election rivals Wygmans, Bevere join forces

MIDDLEBURY — Just two months ago, Addison County State’s Attorney Dennis Wygmans and attorney Peter Bevere were political adversaries, virtually deadlocked in an election to determine the county’s next chief prosecutor. The winner was ultimately decided by a ballot recount, which Wygmans won by a razor-thin, 7,816 to 7,795 tally.
This Tuesday, Jan. 22, the two men will begin working together in the same office.
Bevere has accepted an offer to serve as Wygmans’ top deputy prosecutor, succeeding Christopher Perkett, who recently left that post to join a new law practice in Bristol.
“I’m very excited, and thankful to Dennis for the opportunity,” Bevere said of his new appointment. “I ran (for state’s attorney) in order to become a bigger part of our community, and this is a great opportunity for me to do that. I’m excited to work with Dennis and his staff, and am looking forward to working with law enforcement and community partners, who I got a chance to meet during the course of the campaign.”
Bevere is a Middlebury College graduate and Middlebury resident who until Friday was chief deputy prosecutor for Rutland County, dealing primarily with crimes against women and children.
His first job out of law school was as an assistant district attorney with the Cape & Islands DA’s office in Massachusetts. After two years in that role, he followed his spouse Kelly back to Middlebury, where she’s become the very successful coach of the college’s softball team.
His first Vermont assignment was as an attorney with Rutland-based Meub Associates, where he did his clerkship requirement for admission to the Vermont Bar. He then moved on to the role of domestic violence prosecutor for the Chittenden County State’s Attorneys Office. After three years there, he transitioned back to private practice, as an associate with Middlebury’s English, Carroll & Boe.
Then in 2011, Bevere began his tenure with the Rutland County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Eager to serve his community and shorten his commute, Bevere last summer challenged Wygmans for the top prosecutor’s job in Addison County, and ran as an Independent. Wygmans, a South Burlington Democrat, had been appointed to the job by then-Gov. Peter Shumlin in January of 2017. Wygmans succeeded State’s Attorney David Fenster, who’s now a Vermont superior court judge.
An initial ballot count on this past Nov. 6 gave Wygmans a 7,803 to 7,793 re-election win. Bevere requested a recount, which affirmed Wygmans’ win by a slightly higher vote count.
Both men said they’ve put the election result behind them and are confident they’ll work well together.
“First and foremost, we’re both professionals in what is already a highly competitive field,” Wygmans said of the constant drive to win cases. “We’re used to being adversaries with folks in the courtroom, but then turn around and have a beer with the same person after work. From that perspective, we’re both accustomed to comprehending that just because you’re adversaries in one area, doesn’t mean you can’t be friends and colleagues in another.”
“We’ve always gotten along and respected each other’s work, so I’m not at all concerned about being able to come in and fit right in with the office, moving full speed ahead,” Bevere said.
He added: “If I’m working in the office, I wouldn’t run against my boss. It won’t be an issue.”
Bevere will have a more diverse caseload here than he did in Rutland County. He’ll find himself prosecuting defendants accused of crimes ranging from violent felonies to hunting infractions, according to Wygmans.
During his time in Rutland, Bevere said he helped prosecute “several” homicide cases, and the court docket was often peppered with drug-related offenses.
While murder is thankfully a rare occurrence in Addison County, the local court system does see its share of drug activity.
“I think it’s a lot of the same problems that Rutland County faces, but on a smaller scale — and not as violent, from what I understand,” Bevere said of Addison County.
Wygmans is confident Bevere will get up to speed quickly in his new job.
“He’s somebody who can step in and take on some of the case load of more serious cases, and can handle it without me looking over my shoulder every step of the way.” he said of his new hire.
Bringing on someone with prosecutorial experience will be key for an Addison County State’s Attorney’s Office that is very shorthanded.
Wygmans has, since November, been working on filling three vacancies in his office. They include the chief deputy’s post, a part-time deputy prosecutor’s job (formerly held by Rebecca Otey) specializing in domestic and sexual violence cases, and a victims’ advocate position that Jennifer Ricard vacated last fall.
He’s also about to begin interviewing applicants for a secretarial position.
Wygmans confirmed the ongoing federal government shutdown is preventing him from sorting out hiring details for the part-time prosecutor’s vacancy, which benefits from federal funding.
“That position is a little bit up in the air right now,” he said. “We’re at a standstill on hiring for the position because of the shutdown. It puts a lot of pressure on the rest of us in the office to pick up the pieces… It puts a lot of pressure on us to do the job the county expects of us (with fewer personnel).”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

Share this story:

More News
US Probation Office Uncategorized

US Probation Office Request for Proposals

US Probation Office 2×1.5 062024 RFP

Middlebury American Legion Uncategorized

Middlebury American Legion Annual Meeting

Middlebury American Legion 062024 1×1.5 Annual Meeting

Sports Uncategorized

MAV girls’ lax nets two triumphs

The Mount Abraham-Vergennes cooperative girls’ lacrosse team moved over .500 with a pair o … (read more)

Share this story: