Saturday August 17, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- A woman accused of helping the alleged killer of a Brattleboro woman distribute drugs in and around Brattleboro pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Rutland.

Pamela Zygmont, 28, of Southampton, Mass., accepted a plea agreement that could result in her spending the next two years in prison.

On Wednesday, Judge Christina Reiss accepted Zygmont's guilty plea and ordered her held until sentencing, which was set for Dec. 2.

Zygmont is the mother of a child of Frank Caraballo, 31, of Holyoke, Mass., who is suspected of killing Melissa Barratt, of Brattleboro, on July 29, 2011, in the woods off of East West Road in Dummerston.

Frank Caraballo, 29, of Brattleboro
Frank Caraballo, 29, of Brattleboro

Caraballo believed Barratt, who was 30 at the time of her death, had been stealing drugs from him. She had been arrested by the Brattleboro Police Department on July 17, 2011, following an undercover purchase of crack cocaine from her. She refused to cooperate with police in their investigation of Caraballo, who is suspected of running a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and heroin in the Brattleboro area. Barratt told police she feared for her life if she cooperated with them.

Zygmont, who was recently jailed after prosecutors learned she had been discussing with Caraballo via telephone their individual cases and the nature of witnesses and their testimony, is one of a number of people accused of engaging in the conspiracy with Caraballo.

She has agreed to plead guilty to one count of distributing controlled substances in Vermont and Massachusetts. Though the judge accepted the plea agreement, she is free to accept or deny the details, meaning Zygmont could potentially face up to 20 years in prison.

Others who stand accused of conspiracy to distribute drugs include Kirstin Waterman, of Brattleboro, Thomas Parrott, of Bellows Falls, Toni Lynn Fontaine, of Windsor, and Douglas Radcliffe, of Bennington.

On Jan. 29, Radcliffe pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine, according to a recently released transcript of his change of plea hearing.

"Frank Caraballo would often front the drugs to the defendant with the understanding that the defendant would pay Caraballo back once the defendant sold enough of the drugs to pay his debt," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Perella during the hearing. "Sometimes Caraballo would send Melissa Barratt or Josh Lopez to collect money from the defendant and or give him a re-supply of drugs."

Radcliffe was due to be sentenced in May, but that court date was postponed. The reasons for postponement are under court-ordered seal. He could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

Joshua Makhanda-Lopez, who was driving the car in which Barratt was last seen, has reached a plea agreement for his role in the death of Barratt, but the agreement itself has been sealed by the court.

Plea agreements with some of Caraballo's other alleged co-conspirators, including Fontaine, have been reached, but are also under court-ordered seal at this time. Fontaine, who pleaded guilty on Aug. 12, is being held pending sentencing and will next be in court on Dec. 10.

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @ audette.reformer.