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State’s attorney under fire for email critical of police

ADDISON COUNTY STATE’S Attorney Eva Vekos

MIDDLEBURY — Addison County State’s Attorney Eva Vekos — who on Jan. 25 was cited for suspicion of driving under the influence — once again found herself in the spotlight this week, following the release of an email she sent to area police leaders stating she “no longer feels safe around law enforcement,” while seemingly questioning the intellect of those tasked with safeguarding county residents.

Vekos’s email — obtained by the Independent Wednesday evening, after the deadline for its Thursday, Feb. 1, print edition — was addressed to Vermont State Police Lt. Thomas Mozzer, commander of the VSP’s New Haven barracks; Addison County Sheriff Michael Elmore; Vergennes Police Chief Jason Ouelette; Middlebury Police Chief Jason Covey; and Bristol Police Chief Bruce Nason. It was cc’d to Addison County Deputy State’s Attorneys Anthony Bamrick and Michael Novelli, and Carol Volk, listed as secretary of the county state’s attorney’s office.

Her email was part of a communication string with local law enforcement associated with a previously scheduled police training session on affidavit/report writing. Her verbatim response reads:

“Happy to do so. However, please note that because I no longer feel safe around law enforcement, I will join the next Chiefs’ meeting by video. This safety issue will conflict with the plan for me to do educational trainings. Its too bad, I would have loved to teach grammar skills to bring police up to the elementary school level, at least. I found a really great illustrated book to use. It has pictures of dragons and stuff.”

The Independent reached out to Vekos for comment. The Middlebury Democrat referred all questions to her attorney, David Sleigh, who’s also representing her in her DUI case.

Sleigh, reached on Thursday morning, said he’d yet to see the entire email string from which Vekos’s comment was extracted.

“When people are communicating by email, you can excise one message out of context and draw conclusions that might not be warranted,” he said. “I think people should be cautious about jumping to conclusions.”

While local police officials said they were taken aback by Vekos’s comments, they said it wouldn’t affect their professionalism when dealing with the state’s attorney’s office.

“It was offensive, unprofessional and unprovoked, in my opinion,” Covey said of Vekos’s comments. “But it will be business as usual for us… It won’t have any impact on what we do.”

Nason echoed Covey’s comments in saying he and his officers would continue to work cooperatively with the state’s attorney’s office.

Police play a critical role in a prosecutor’s building of cases that go before criminal court judges and juries. Police prepare investigatory affidavits outlining witness interviews and evidence gathered from crime scenes that the state’s attorney then uses in prosecuting defendants in court.

Meanwhile, Vekos is due to be arraigned in Addison Superior Court, Criminal Division, on Feb. 12, on the DUI-related citation. 

As previously reported by the Independent, state police cited Vekos for DUI–Refusal after she allegedly showed up under the influence at the scene of a suspicious death at a home off Swinton Road in Bridport at around 8:50 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25.

Troopers said they arrested Vekos after allegedly detecting “the odor of intoxicants and observed indicators of impairment, such as slurred speech.” They said Vekos refused to undergo standardized field sobriety tests and placed her under arrest for DUI – Refusal.

State police added Vekos refused to cooperate with being fingerprinted and photographed while being processed at the New Haven barracks.

The Independent asked Addison County Democratic Committee Chair Linda Andrews to weigh in on Vekos’s current challenges. She declined comment for this article, saying she’d spearhead discussion on the topic at the committee’s next meeting.

State Sen. Ruth Hardy, D-Middlebury, chairs the Senate Government Operations Committee — a panel that among other things concerns itself with making state and municipal bureaucracies function better.

“[Vekos], like anyone else, is entitled to due process and full access to the judicial system; I don’t want to draw any conclusions on her case. But that being said, what I’ve read and heard sounds problematic and discouraging for an elected official. And I think it points to the need for better oversight of county officials, and that’s what we’ve been working on,” she said on Thursday.

Senate Gov’t Ops is currently advocating for Proposition 1, a constitutional amendment that would clarify, in state statutes, ground rules for holding county offices (including sheriff and state’s attorney), while also outlining a process for those office holders to be disciplined/removed. Right now, the only way to remove an elected county official from office is a complex impeachment process through the state legislature.

“Impeachment is the only remedy right now,” Hardy said. “We don’t even have the ability to put her on administrative leave. We can’t suspend her, or do anything with anyone — it’s not just about her, it’s about all county officials.”

Hardy said that as of Thursday, Proposition 1 was stalled in the senate.

It was on Nov. 10, 2022 that Vekos, 54, defeated Middlebury independent (and then-Addison County Deputy State’s Attorney) Peter Bevere, 8,478-6,147, for a four-year term as the county’s top prosecutor.

Her general election win came after having topped fellow Democrat Tim Lueders-Dumont, 2,823-2,388, in an August primary.

Prior to taking office, Vekos was an attorney with Middlebury-based Marsh & Wagner P.C. Her past experience includes working as a trial attorney and appellate counsel in the juvenile rights division of the New York City court system, representing children and youth in juvenile delinquency and abuse/neglect cases at trial and the appellate level.

She also served an eight-year stint as a public defender in the Superior Court Trial Office for Middlesex and Bristol counties in Massachusetts, managing felony cases.

As recently reported by Mike Donoghue of Vermont News First, Vekos’s office saw several serious cases — including at least three reported homicides — during a span of four months last year.

Hussein Mohamed, 14, of Burlington has been charged as an adult with second degree murder, manslaughter and aggravated assault in the death of Madden Gouveia, 14, of Shelburne following a shooting in Bristol on Oct. 30. Mohamed, who has denied the charges, is being prosecuted under a law approved during a special session of the Vermont Legislature in 1981 designed to hold young teens accountable for 12 of the most serious crimes.

In a second case, Michelle Kilbreth, 48, was fatally shot after she got into an argument with another woman outside her home on McKnight Lane in Waltham on Sept. 15, 2023, police said. A neighborhood boy picked up the handgun and fired multiple shots killing Kilbreth, officials said. No charges have been filed in adult court against the juvenile, who is believed to be around 12 years old. It is unknown if juvenile proceedings were implemented in Family Court, which is confidential.

In the third homicide, Zaquikon T. Roy, 35, who has lived in Rutland and St. Albans, has been charged in federal court in connection with a double shooting of two brothers on Route 7 in Leicester in June 2023 after a drug deal went bad when Roy shorted his buyers, officials said.

One man, Scott Lanpher, 35, of Leicester, died and his brother, Larry Lanpher Jr., 31, of Leicester was seriously wounded. Roy, who was originally from Brooklyn, was initially charged in state court with second-degree murder, manslaughter, attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm after being convicted of a violent crime, court records show. The state dropped those in favor of the federal prosecution after he was caught in Lewiston, Maine, in August 2023.

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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