RICHFORD RAID PART OF MAJOR DRUG BUST

RICHFORD: Federal Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives stormed a home located at 49 Troy Street in Richford on Tuesday as they executed a search warrant, looking for drugs and drug paraphernalia.

According to the government, St. Albans Police stopped Larnell Cunningham, 39, of New York City for a warrant check, on May 23rd, which ultimately lead police to the Richford home. Inside were two men, Michael "Bigs" Leslie, 40, of Philadelphia and Pamela Yandow.

Inside Cunningham's vehicle in May, police discovered a "Tang" drink mix container with approximately 130 grams of cocaine as well as a digital scale, several small plastic baggies and other items commonly used to distribute narcotics.

The following day a criminal informant conducted a controlled purchase of cocaine from Marvin Tyrone Crawford, 40, of Philidelphia. During that interaction, Crawford allegedly told the buyer that Cunningham was supposed to have more cocaine for him, but was stopped by police instead. That drug buy allegedly took place in the EconoLodge parking lot in St. Albans.

Court documents revealed the criminal informant was helping police in exchange for assistance in a prior arrest where the State of Vermont levied charged against the CI.

That purchase, along with other police investigations lead to Pamela Yandow, 45, of St. Albans along with her son, Tannar Yandow, 20, also of St. Albans.

According to a Border Patrol Agent's affidavit, the CI could only communicate with the Yandow's through Facebook Messenger.

A later purchase from the Yandow's to the CI was conducted with the CI wearing a wire and being video recorded, according to court records. That transaction happened just down the road from the EconoLodge in a newly built apartment building, located at 306 South Main Street.

The same CI allegedly helped federal agents when he made a drug purchase from Leslie on June 20th at a home on 228 Sheldon Road in St. Albans.

During that buy, Leslie allegedly came outside from the home with the predetermined amount of cocaine that the CI was to purchase from Leslie. When the transaction was finished, the CI then asked Leslie if he could purchase more cocaine- that is when Leslie went back into the apartment and came back a second time with cocaine for the buyer.

According to court records, this transaction was video recorded to preserve the integrity of the evidence.

During Monday's raid in Richford, agents found Leslie to be in possession of $8,378 in cash. They also discovered drug paraphernalia including small plastic baggies, a digital scale and kitchen utensils that had small amounts of cocaine on them.

The Federal Government is also prosecuting Donna Larose, 56, of St. Albans after she was pulled over in Fort Ann, New York with a criminal possession of cocaine that police allege was intended for the Franklin County, Vermont area.

Tannar Yandow, Pamela Yandow, Marvin Tyrone Crawford Donna Larose, and Michael Leslie were all arrested and held on the drug charges, pending a detention hearing this afternoon.

 

McALLISTER TAKES THE STAND IN HIS DEFENSE

By Gregory J. Lamoureux

ST. ALBANS: After a day of evidence presented by the state on Thursday, the Defense took over Friday with testimony from Heath McAllister and ultimately his father Norm McAllister.

Heath quickly made it clear, at least as far as his testimony goes, Heath was the one that spent much of the time with the accuser the day that she first interviewed for a job on the McAllister farm.

That is in direct contradiction to the accusations by the state that Norm had forced, or at least coerced, the accuser of sex acts with him in the barn the first time they met.

Heath also went on to talk about how he had confronted his father about strange behavior with the accuser and his father in the weeks and months after Norm’s wife died of acute pancreatitis.

“At first he denied it,” Heath McAllister said, “but then he admitted that there was more to it” noting that the two were having a relationship.

That relationship, according to McAllister was a  consensual relationship that the accuser originated.

The testimony quickly turned graphic as McAllister talked about their alleged consensual relationship that went on for months.

Norm was asked about the allegations of forcing the accuser to have anal sex with him.

He said that the two had a conversation about going down that road and that they decided to try it.

“She brought the KY and I took my pill,” McAllister said, referring to earlier testimony about having continued problems with erectile dysfunction.

McAllister was also asked about the allegations of sexual assault in which he allegedly caused pain to the accuser while using his fingers to sexually please her.

McAllister claims that on that particular occasion he was stopping by to talk to her about working at the gardens on the farm and during the conversation between the two, the accuser let her bathrobe swing open and said, “Do you have a little bit of time?”

McAllister said that he took that to be the woman wanted to have some sort of sexual experience with him. He then followed her down a hallway in the mobile home and into the bedroom.

According to Mcallister they then both undressed and the sexual encounter began.

When asked about causing her pain, he said, “she seemed to be enjoying it so I kept doing it.”

The prosecutions had alleged that McAllister shushed the woman and said “good girl” when during this encounter.

According to McAllister, that never happened.

The County Courier has chosen to leave out the most graphic details of the testimony that both parties have entered in this case.

As far as agreeing to exchange rent for sex, McAllister also denied those allegations on the stand this morning.

Some of the last testimony that McAllister gave was that he had conversations with the accuser that related to going to farms to have sex, however, according to McAllister the woman was the one who initiated those conversations, and he had not played a roll in that.

The prosecution is expected to take over cross examinations in the afternoon with McAllister. Those cross examinations are likely to take most of the afternoon and it is not clear if the trial will conclude today.

JURY SELECTION CONTINUES INTO THIRD DAY IN McALLISTER CASE

Former Senator Norm McAllister listens to the jury selection process, in St. Albans, on Tuesday afternoon.                  Gregory J. Lamoureux photo

ST. ALBANS: There have been almost two hundred prospective jurors mulling around the courthouse in St. Albans this week as they are filtered down to a group of fourteen that will hear the evidence against Franklin County’s former Senator, Norm McAllister. Continue reading “JURY SELECTION CONTINUES INTO THIRD DAY IN McALLISTER CASE”

SWANTON IS HOME TO SWANS, ONCE AGAIN

By Ruthie Laroche

Friday was a day of celebration for the residents of Swanton, braving the rain and the possibility of thunder, a crowd of people gathered to welcome two mute swans to the town park.

Sam and Betty, the names traditionally given to each pair of swans that reside in the park, were officially released into their new home around 6:00 on Friday evening.

Continue reading “SWANTON IS HOME TO SWANS, ONCE AGAIN”

DISTRUST OF FAIRFIELD PRINCIPAL CONTINUES TO RUN DEEP WITH PARENTS AND EDUCATORS

A Fairfield parent speaks to the board to encourage them to ‘take these comments to heart’ as they consider the allegations of misconduct and unprofessionalism against the Fairfield Principal during a public meeting on Monday evening. Gregory J. Lamoureux photo

By Gregory J. Lamoureux

FAIRFIELD: About three dozen teachers and 75 parents packed the school’s gymnasium on Monday evening to complain about the principal, and if what parents and teachers had to say is true, of Fairfield’s principal is lackluster at best when it comes to running the K-8 school. Continue reading “DISTRUST OF FAIRFIELD PRINCIPAL CONTINUES TO RUN DEEP WITH PARENTS AND EDUCATORS”

SWANTON SECTOR AGENTS SEIZE 48LBS OF POT, ARREST 11 ILLEGALS IN 5 DAYS

SWANTON, Vt. – U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Swanton Sector had a busy week June 8 – June 12, including arresting 11 illegal aliens, seizing 48 pounds of marijuana and arresting one subject with an active arrest warrant.  The sector established checkpoints, with the support of the New York State Police, on Interstate 87 near North Hudson and on Highway 11 near Tupper Lake in New York. Continue reading “SWANTON SECTOR AGENTS SEIZE 48LBS OF POT, ARREST 11 ILLEGALS IN 5 DAYS”

McALLISTER’S CASE MAY BE DISMISSED BEFORE TRIAL

Former Senator Norm McAllister (left) listens to his lawyer, Bob Katims during a court hearing on Tuesday. Gregory J. Lamoureux photo

By Gregory J. Lamoureux

ST. ALBANS: In a case that has had countless twists and turns, the latest may end the charges against former Senator Norm McAllister of Highgate.

Through McAllister’s lawyer, the defense is contesting the prosecution’s integrity in how they have handled evidence relating to McAllister and those who have accused him of several sex crimes.

Continue reading “McALLISTER’S CASE MAY BE DISMISSED BEFORE TRIAL”

CHOINIERE DAIRY FINDS NICHE MARKETS

Photos and Story by Ruthie Laroche

There was a time in Vermont’s history when the number of cows outweighed the number of people in the state and family owned dairy farms dotted the fields and hills.

Falling milk prices have taken a toll on the family owned dairy farms, but while the future for many small farms may seem uncertain, there are still options out there for those who choose to explore them.

“I don’t think it’s a bad occupation; I think there’s a lot of future for the next generation. I do feel that the dairy part is becoming saturated, but there are still some niche markets, which we are a part of. We are certified organic, grass milk, so that’s a niche over a niche, and that’s paying off well,” said Guy Choiniere.

“Vermont has always been suited well for small farms. I think if the kids or the young farmers can realize that bigger isn’t always better and that they can concentrate on producing good quality products there is a chance for growth,” said Guy.

“There’s a lot of interest in our communities to move some of those products. We’re blessed here in Vermont to have very nutrient dense soil, and that means that our food follows the same pattern.” He feels that those who can capitalize on that have the opportunity to succeed.”

Guy’s father’s family came across the Canadian Border in the 1930’s. His grandfather purchased a farm in Highgate and settled there to raise his family. The land in Highgate was very sandy, which proved to be a challenge for the farmers, but it also meant that land was cheap.

Guy’s grandfather and his father worked diligently to increase the fertility of the soil on the farm.

Eventually, the Choiniere family started buying milking equipment, and in 1945 Guy’s grandfather bought the farm Guy and his family call home. “It’s been a great thing. We’ve turned a poor farm into something very respectable, and now it’s just a maintenance piece. We found out how to manage sand,” Guy said, holding up a fist full of freshly mowed hay, the stems thick and green.

In 1965 Guy’s father decided to buy another farm, the 150-acre LeBombard farm on the Tarte Road. The purchase of that farm came at a time when farming trends were moving away from the all-grass herd to growing more row crops that would help the cows produce more milk.

His father’s generation saw the introduction of genetics as a tool to increase milk production through feed intake. “My grandfather knew how to keep a cow around forever. He paid the bills, but he didn’t make a lot of milk. When my father’s generation came around the goal was to make more milk per cow to pay for bills as the taxes and expenses of farming increased,” said Guy.

This method of farming kept the cows in the barn as much as possible so they exerted the least amount of energy and could concentrate on making milk.

After Guy graduated from school and got closer to the time he would take over the farm, he knew he would have to find a way to keep the small farm viable. He began to investigate the option of switching from the conventional farming methods he knew and switching to the organic market. In 2005, after meeting the regulation requirements, the farm shipped its first load of organic milk.

Read the full story in this week’s County Courier available on newsstands now.

WRIGHT FAMILY FARM: CARRYING ON THE FAMILY TRADITION

Photo and Story by Ruthie Laroche

Donald and Ruth Wright are remembered by many in Enosburgh as a hard working couple who carried on the long tradition of Wright family farming. They have special significance in the month of June and on Dairy Day, especially. Ruth, together with her husband Donald, and a County Agent named Walter Rockwood, put the pieces together for the celebration of the first June Dairy Day in Enosburgh. Continue reading “WRIGHT FAMILY FARM: CARRYING ON THE FAMILY TRADITION”

DETAILS EMERGE AT ARRAIGNMENT FOR FORMER MVU TEACHER

Darren Haynes appears in Criminal Court with public defender Rosie Chase on Tuesday to answer to multiple charges related to having an inappropriate relationship with a former student. Gregory J. Lamoureux photo

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story may not be suitable for all audiences

Police arrested former MVU teacher Darren Haynes on Friday for Lewd and Lascivious Conduct with a child under 16 as well as Sexual Exploitation of a child by electronic luring. He denied both charges today in Criminal Court. Continue reading “DETAILS EMERGE AT ARRAIGNMENT FOR FORMER MVU TEACHER”