PUTNEY >> A man who has been under investigation by the Vermont Drug Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations since last year and who was arrested following an altercation involving gunshots fired, has been released on his own recognizance by a federal judge.

Jason Bunch, 41, of Hi-Lo Biddy Road in Putney, has been charged with trafficking heroin, powder cocaine, and crack cocaine in Windham County. Two days after he was arrested following the altercation in Putney, on Aug. 29, a complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of Vermont was unsealed. In it, Bunch was accused of "knowingly and intentionally" distributing cocaine base.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Vermont had asked a federal judge to keep Bunch in jail. "As the Court pointed out during the prior hearing ... Bunch is not new to the criminal justice system. He has been afforded many prior opportunities to learn to comply with orders of the Court and probation and has demonstrated an inability to do so."

On Sept. 27, a judge in the United States District Court for the District of Vermont released Bunch with conditions including he not violate any federal, state or local law while on release. Bunch is also restricted to travel between New York and Vermont and to travel to Pennsylvania to resolve a warrant for his arrest issued there. According to statements made in court, Bunch will be living in New York while on release.


In addition, Bunch was ordered to "refrain from possessing a firearm" and from "excessive use of alcohol" and the "use or unlawful possession of a narcotic drug or other controlled substances ..."

While on release, Bunch must "participate in a program of inpatient or outpatient substance abuse therapy and counseling if the pretrial services office or supervising officer considers if advisable ..."

If Bunch violates any of the conditions of his release, he could be taken back into custody and be charged with contempt of court.

"While on release, if you commit a federal felony offense the punishment is an additional prison term of not more than ten years and for a federal misdemeanor offense the punishment is an additional prison term of not more than one year. This sentence will be consecutive (i.e., in addition to) to any other sentence you receive."

He was also warned that if he obstructs the investigation, tampers with, attempts to intimidate or retaliates against a witness, victim, or informant, he could be charged with additional crimes.

Following the altercation at Hi-Lo Biddy Road on Aug. 27, another three men were arrested — Jason Robison, 31, of Putney, Alfred Spellman, 36, and Robbull Bryant, 37, both of Brooklyn, N.Y. They were cited with a variety of offenses including reckless endangerment and trafficking in illegal drugs.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160.