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ORLEANS COUNTY â€“ Nearly two weeks after Roger Pion, 34, went on a rampage pulverizing sheriffâ€™s vehicles in the department's parking lot with a huge Case tractor, the Orleans County Sheriffâ€™s Department is well on its way to recovery, but not fast.
Dealing with the insurance company is a slow process, Sheriff Kirk Martin said in an interview Tuesday. The insurance company will look into where liability lies for the damage as part of its investigation. The tractor, with an estimated value of over a hundred thousand dollars, is reportedly owned by Pionâ€™s father, Armand Pion, who owns equipment and works on farms.
Martin has purchased two new vehicles for the department and has obtained five loaned vehicles for now, but Martin will purchase five more with a goal of buying new for the longevity and dependably that new vehicles provide.
The loss from the incident is estimated at $250,000 to $300,000. The vehicles were fully loaded with equipment.
A car wash was held at Delabruereâ€™s Auto Sales Saturday as a fundraiser for its neighbor, the sheriffâ€™s department. Martin was presented with a check for more than $1,100 from the event and Delabruereâ€™s provided matching funds.
Martin and others say that the incident could ultimately be paid for by tax payers. If the sheriffâ€™s department is unable to recuperate the total loss, the department will have to raise the rate they charge towns that they contract with for services.
Martin said he is not sure if the departmentâ€™s insurance rates will go up as a result of the incident.
Pion has not stated his motivation. After his arrest, he did not make a statement, according to court records. Many speculate it was an act of revenge on law enforcement, however Martin says his department hasnâ€™t dealt with Pion since about 2007.
Pion has a long history of run-ins with law enforcement dating back to 1998 but no felony convictions. His past charges from recent years include disorderly conduct, driving with a suspended license, and violating conditions of release.
Pion was arrested on July 3 when the vehicle he was traveling in was pulled over.
During the stop by the Newport City Police Department, officers discovered that Pion was wanted on a warrant. Pion was taken into custody and charged with possession of marijuana and resisting arrest. The arresting officer had to use the â€śarm bar take down,â€ť police reported, and Newport Ambulance Service responded following the arrest. Pion was then transported to North Country Hospital for further evaluation. He was jailed and later released.
Pion was held on $50,000 bail, which he has posted, he but remains in jail for now. He is due back in court on August 27.
Since his arrest, Pion is facing a slew of charges including aggravated assault on an officer, reckless operation of a vehicle, leaving the scene of a crash, and committing a crime with a weapon. His attorney David Sleigh is fighting the aggravated assault charge and wants the several counts of unlawful mischief combined into one charge. Original charges also included impeding a public officer, which Judge Robert bent dismissed after not finding probable cause.
Some people are commending Pionâ€™s actions. The sheriff declined to comment on that opinion.
According to a Newport Daily Express online poll, 30 percent of those who voted called him a hero, 54 percent called him a menace, and another 16 percent clicked on â€śWho is Roger Pion?â€ť