NEWPORT CITY – Two city residents busted by police for allegedly selling heroin appeared in Orleans County Court Thursday. Jerry D. Abbott, 28, was ordered to be held on half a million dollars bail and his reputed girlfriend, Kate Shatney, was ordered to be held on $150 grand, after the two entered not guilty pleas to charges of selling heroin and violating conditions of release on other existing cases.
Cathy Norman of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office asked Judge Howard VanBenthuysen to set Abbott’s Bail at $100,000. She expressed concerns that Abbott is a flight risk. Norman said that Abbott sold 100 bags of heroin to a cooperating individual during multiple controlled buys. During a search of Abbott’s car Thursday, police found in excess of 800 bags of heroin, Norman said.
“That constitutes a trafficking charge,” said Norman.
Abbott may face other charges from other counties, Norman said. She also expressed concerns that Abbott has a past history of being violent. Norman said Abbott is unemployed and the affidavit indicates that he made numerous trips to Massachusetts to buy heroin to resell in Vermont and to support his own habit.
Abbott’s attorney, Janssen Willhoit, said that Abbott’s previous record entails misdemeanor offenses. Abbott is married and wants to take care of his two very young children.
Willhoit ask VanBenthuysen set bail at $50,000.
VanBenthuysen didn’t buy Willhoit’s attempt for lesser bail. He said it’s important to analyze the information. He said that two of Abbott’s previous misdemeanor charges are for possession of illegal drugs and there is a pending charge of possession of narcotics.
Norman asked that VanBenthuysen set Shatney’s bail at $25,000. The current charges are more serious than the previous ones, Norman said. Norman said Shatney made at least six trips to Massachusetts to buy heroin for her own use as well as to sell it. Willhoit asked for a $10,000 bail.
Not having a previous record is in Shatney’s favor, VanBenthuysen said. He also said Shatney has contacts in Vermont, but according to the allegations did make routine trips out of state to purchase drugs.
“This is a very large amount of heroin that’s coming into the area,” said VanBenthuysen. “A very large amount of money is involved.”
Both have good reasons to flee, VanBenthuysen said, as he set high bail for both defendants.
The Northern Vermont Drug Task Force started the investigation Nov. 28. On Dec. 3, Detective Jason Luneau from the Morristown Police Department, who was working with the task force, met with a cooperating individual (CI) who claimed that Abbott was a large scale heroin dealer in the Newport area. Luneau arrange for the CI to purchase a large amount of heroin and to ask about a discount. During a telephone conversation with the CI, Abbott allegedly agreed to sell four bundles at $200 each.
Over a period of several weeks, the CI allegedly purchased heroin from either Abbott or Shatney under controlled buys. They usually met at a gas station in Orleans. Sometimes they completed the transaction at homes in Brownington or Newport.
On Dec. 19, Abbott agreed to meet CI in St. Johnsbury on his way home from Massachusetts. They ended up meeting at a business in downtown St. Johnsbury. After leaving the business, Sgt. Brian May stopped Abbott and took him into custody. Court records state that Abbott had $7,600 on him. During the investigation, police discovered that $1,700 of that was Vermont Drug Task Force money.
Police recovered 10 empty heroin bags from Abbott. During processing, Abbott told police that, in a way, it was the best thing to happen, because he has a heroin/opiate addiction.
Separately, Shatney told police she too has a heroin problem, was addicted to oxycodone and used five 30mg Percocet pills within the last week. She said that she used to use marijuana but had not smoked any since October. She allegedly admitted to selling heroin to make money for her habit. Shatney told police that she and Abbott used $5,000 worth of heroin a week. Shatney said she only had been sold heroin for the past two months. Shatney said she and Abbott had about 20 customers.
Shatney reportedly told police she went to Massachusetts six times since this past summer to pick up heroin. She said Abbott started selling heroin in January 2012 and she started a couple months ago. Shatney said that, to the best of her knowledge, Abbott started making weekly trips in August.
During a search, police recovered heroin from the home on Cottage Street and marijuana from the home in Brownington.