Vergennes Police Log: Sleepy man cited for DUI along with three others

VERGENNES — Vergennes police cited four people for driving under the influence of alcohol between July 11 and 24.

The most recent case came early in the morning on July 21. Police allege that just before 1:30 a.m. John J. Forero-Castano, 31, of New Haven was driving on Main Street and apparently fell asleep behind the wheel before his vehicle drifted across the center line and came to rest in front of the Stevens House at the intersection of Main and Green streets.

Police allege that he showed signs of impairment and that his non-evidentiary roadside blood-alcohol content (BAC) tested at 0.149%; the legal limit for driving is 0.08. Ultimately police cited Forero-Castano for DUI.

Also, while on patrol early in the morning of July 17, police came across a vehicle pulled over along Hopkins Road and said they stopped to check on the welfare of the operator. Again, they alleged the driver, Gabriel H. Litch, 22, of Vergennes, showed signs of impairment and did not do well in roadside sobriety testing. They also alleged he had a roadside BAC of 0.177 and later cited him for DUI.

On July 16 police pulled over a vehicle after allegedly seeing it being operated erratically on Green Street. They alleged the operator, James F. Ploof, 24, of Leicester failed roadside sobriety testing, and refused BAC testing. Police eventually cited him for DUI.

On July 12 police were conducting routine bar checks and stopped at the City Limits tavern on Green Street. An employee noted a patron who allegedly posed a problem, and police saw signs of intoxication. They said they offered him a ride home, which he declined, and when they explained the Act 1 Detoxification facility in Burlington as an option he also refused.

Shortly afterward, police said they saw the man, Jerry Rule Sr., 70, of Panton, try to start driving home, and said they were unable to stop him before he started backing out of a parking place. Police eventually cited him for DUI and alleged his BAC tested at 0.167.

In other incidents in that two-week period, Vergennes police conducted 14 patrols by car and seven on foot; made 25 traffic stops, not counting the DUIs; took four sets of pre-employment fingerprints; responded to an accidental 911 hang-up call; and also:

On July 11 helped the Vergennes Area Rescue Squad (VARS) with an uncooperative elderly patient on New Haven Road.

On July 12:

  • Looked into a tip that a woman on Facebook who said she was making solicitations on behalf of an international student placement agency was misrepresenting her background. Police concluded she was and notified officials at the Addison Northwest School District and Department for Children and Families (DCF).
  • Twice conducted checks on the welfare of a city family involved with the Project Vision North program.

On July 13 spoke to a Vergennes woman about a child custody dispute and the health and welfare of the children involved; police spoke to DCF and learned they were aware of the issues.

On July 14 arranged for the return to the owner of a cellphone that had been found in the Booth Woods area.

On July 15, following an alert about erratic driving, stopped a vehicle on Main Street and determined the driver was safe to continue.

On July 16 discussed with the neighboring families involved in Hillside Acres apartments longstanding issues involving bullying and threats involving children and their fathers.

On July 17 took a report from a Northlands Job Corps official that a student had been dismissed from the program after threatening another, a report police said was required by law and protocol.

On July 18:

  • Issued a citation to a Hillside Acres apartment resident on behalf of Middlebury police.
  • Helped find a man suffering from Alzheimer’s who had left his home after a disagreement with his wife.

On July 19:

  • Responded to a complaint that someone was taking unwelcome pictures of Collins Aerospace employees as they came and went at work. Police determined it was a social media performer testing whether his constitutional rights would be respected, and that he was breaking no laws.
  • Went to the John Graham Shelter to look into reports that a female resident was physically and verbally mistreating her young daughter. After an investigation police cited Erin Smith, 28, for cruelty to a child.
  • Dealt with a landlord-tenant dispute at a West Main Street address.
  • Helped a female Hillside Drive resident renew a no-trespassing order.
  • Calmed a verbal domestic dispute on Sunset Drive.

On July 20:

  • Issued a no-trespassing order to a man on behalf of Maplefields convenience store.
  • Issued a relief-from-abuse order to a John Graham Shelter resident.
  • Responded to a report of a stolen delivery of an $1,800 grill at a city business, but learned it was a prank played on the complainant by co-workers.

On July 21 took a report of a minor accident on White Street for insurance purposes.

On July 23:

  • Dealt with an unlocked Main Street door found after hours.
  • Helped VARS deal with an uncooperative patient on School Street.

On July 24 ended up abandoning a high-speed chase in Ferrisburgh for safety reasons, but said they are confident that video and a New York license plate number will lead to charges for the operator.

Police said they were alerted to the case first by a report of erratic driving on Jersey Street in Panton by a woman waving a vodka bottle out of the window of a car. They picked up the vehicle on Panton Road, and it pulled to a stop on North Main Street.

As police went to deal with the driver, they said the car took off again, heading along Route 7 and Monkton and Clark Woods roads and allegedly hitting 84 mph before they opted to stop pursuit and alert law enforcement elsewhere.

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