NEWPORT – Roger Pion, the 34-year-old accused of driving a huge farm tractor over seven Orleans County Sheriff’s Department vehicles, was back in court Tuesday morning for an arraignment – albeit a little late.
The state has added a charge of driving with a suspended license, alleging that when Pion took the tractor on the roads, his license was under suspension.
Pion’s arraignment was scheduled for 9 AM but he failed to show. His attorney, David Sleigh of St. Johnsbury, was present and said that he could not reach Pion by phone but had spoken to Pion’s father who said that Pion was not coming in.
State’s Attorney Alan Franklin asked the judge for an arrest warrant, but the judge said that he would give Pion until 4 PM before issuing the warrant.
Sleigh left the court and drove to Pion’s home, picked him up and brought him to court.
In an interview following the arraignment, Sleigh said there had been some confusion on Pion’s part on his obligation to appear in court, since he already appeared for an arraignment previously and this was an additional charge that involved the same incident. Sleigh said his client was surprised he had to show up for another arraignment.
Pion went to the court later in the morning with his attorney and entered a plea of innocent. He was released on the same conditions.
Pion supporters say that Pion’s rampage at the Sherriff’s Department stemmed from his years of run-ins with police. However, Sheriff Kirk Martin said his department hadn’t had contact with Pion in years and Martin is not sure why their vehicles were targeted.
Pion is facing a slew of charges related to the tractor incident including unlawful mischief, aggravated assault, and reckless operation. He also had a loaded weapon with him when he was taken into custody, police reported.
Pion was jailed but released after posting $50,000 bail and completing a pre-existing sentence.
A status conference is scheduled for October 2.