BRATTLEBORO -- Though he had only a short time left on his court-ordered stint at Windham Solid Waste Management District, a Brattleboro man allegedly decided he didn't like the work anymore.
So police say Shane Mercy, 34, intentionally damaged equipment and temporarily shut down paper sorting at the Brattleboro recycling center on two Saturdays in October.
Damage was estimated at more than $2,600. That included equipment and labor costs as well as lost production at the district's busy Old Ferry Road facility.
"It shut down the paper (sorting) line for an hour and a half or two hours every time it happened," said Philip Baker, Windham Solid Waste's operations manager.
"The cost is production," Baker added. "During that period of time, we would be producing so many bales of cardboard and so many bales of paper."
Mercy was arraigned Tuesday in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division on charges of unlawful mischief and obstructing justice. Both are felonies. Conditions of his release include staying away from Windham Solid Waste Management District.
Brattleboro police Detective Lt. Michael Carrier said he began investigating the matter Oct. 21 after receiving an unlawful-mischief complaint through the Windham County State's Attorney's office.
In court documents, Carrier wrote that Mercy was part of a work crew at Windham Solid Waste and was accused of having "caused deliberate damage to a large belt that is attached to a sorting machine."
The belt had been "sabotaged" on Oct. 5 and Oct. 12, Carrier said.
Investigation showed that a district administrator had found a Webster's Dictionary on the belt on both dates.
A witness told police that Mercy, who was "almost done" with his work-crew responsibilities, "just didn't want to work, so he kept stopping the belt."
"The guy (Mercy) told him he was done and that he didn't want to work anymore," Carrier wrote in an affidavit.
The witness later felt threatened when Mercy approached him at a Brattleboro restaurant and "said they were trying to hit him with all this damage and screw his life up," the affidavit says.
Mercy allegedly told the man that he knew several people had given statements to the police and "he'd find out and deal with it."
Another witness told police he saw Mercy place an encyclopedia underneath the machine's belt on Oct. 12.
"Mercy then stuck two smaller ones, each about an inch thick, under the belt and then it messed it up really good," Carrier wrote, quoting the witness. "This caused the belt to come off the track for a good couple of hours ... they lost a lot of time trying to get the belt back on track."
The witness also saw Mercy place books on the belt on Oct. 5, at which point he "looked at all of them and laughed," the affidavit says. "Mercy then said, ‘There you go (expletive), take that.'"
Carrier said he spoke to Mercy, who reported that he "got tired of being hollered at" by a supervisor and complained that "the belt was having too much paper and cardboard being placed on it."
"Mercy said he got tired of being in charge of the line, stopping and starting the machine," Carrier wrote. "Mercy said he was there to do his job, and he got frustrated with others not doing their job."
But Mercy denied placing books on the belt, court documents say.
Invoices and estimates showed that the district suffered damages including $1,452 for a new belt and $471 for labor to fix the belt. Additionally, there was an estimated $742 in lost revenue for the district.
Mercy's most-recent criminal conviction was for a third DUI on charges filed in Franklin County, Vermont. Court records show he received a sentence of one to four years of incarceration for the DUI conviction in July 2012; the jail time was suspended with probation except for 60 days to serve.
Mercy also has been convicted of driving with a license suspended for DUI.
Windham Solid Waste officials said work-crew participants generally report to the recycling facility on Saturdays and, for the most part, cause few problems.
"Generally, these work-crew guys are very good," Baker said. "Very seldom do I have an incident with these guys."
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.