By Gregory J. Lamoureux
Two and a half years ago, on July 17th, 2017, police in Grand Isle County were notified of a burglary in progress at a home in Alburgh.
Initial reports were that the homeowner’s son was traveling to work when he saw someone loading firearms into a vehicle at his father’s home.
When the man stopped and confronted the suspects, they took off in a Blue Jeep Liberty, with the firearms in their possession, according to Grand Isle State’s Attorney Doug DiSabito.
Police began scouring the area, searching for the Blue Jeep but were unable to locate it for a little more than 30 minutes, according to prosecutors, but when they did, police searched the vehicle to discover that there were no guns inside, so they let the man go free.
As word of the crime spread, an off duty Homeland Security Investigator was out for a bike ride in Alburgh during that 30 minute period. That Homeland Security Investigator noticed the Blue Jeep travel up, and ultimately back down, Greenwoods Road in Alburgh.
That information, paired with a farmer who discovered the guns hidden in his field later that day, lead police back to their prime suspects.
The driver of the Jeep, Teddy Bruce, 29, of Swanton, was pulled over on Route 78 near the Alburgh/Swanton town lines. His passenger, who police later identified as Storm Choiniere, 28, of Highgate. The two quickly became the prime suspects in the burglary.
At trial last week, prosecutors called the Homeland Security Investigator, as well as 11 other witnesses that could piece back together, the whereabouts of Choiniere during the 30 minutes in question, and place him at the scene of the crime.
DiSabito, Grand Isle County’s State’s Attorney, also pursued the charge of Choiniere as being a habitual offender, according to a written statement relating to the case.
The Jury found Choiniere guilty of Burglary of an Occupied Dwelling, as well as the habitual offender charge. Choiniere was also found guilty of Grand Larceny.
A sentencing date has yet to be set in the case. The state will have to conduct a pre-sentence investigation to better determine the appropriate sentence for Choiniere.
Choiniere’s previous charges include Simple Assault, on Law Enforcement, Resisting Arrest, Burglary of an Occupied Dwelling, Violation of Conditions and Possession of Stolen Property. In 2013 Choiniere was arrested in Enosburg after he was found to have escaped from furlough.
Choiniere was the prime suspect in a 2008 burglary at a home on Farrar Street. In that case, Vermont State Police used a k-9 to track their suspect to where they found Choiniere- asleep in a van at the Europa Motel. Inside the van, in close proximity to Choiniere, was $3,820 of the approximately $5,000 in cash that was allegedly stolen.
Choiniere is currently being held at Northwest Correctional Center in St. Albans, pending his sentencing that has yet to be scheduled.
Bruce went to trial last month and the jury came back deadlocked. Through negotiations, the two sides came together to agree to a guilty plea on the charge of felony possession of stolen property. He was sentenced to 9 months to 2 years to serve.