BRATTLEBORO -- A woman who pleaded guilty to distributing drugs in and around Brattleboro was sentenced to two years in prison on Dec. 2. Upon release, Pamela Zygmont, 28, of Southampton, Mass., will be placed on three years of supervised release.
Zygmont was accused of participating in a drug ring orchestrated by Frank Caraballo, 31, of Holyoke, Mass., in which cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin was transported from Massachusetts for sale in and around Brattleboro.
Caraballo was convicted on Oct. 2 of causing the death of Melissa Barratt, 30, of Brattleboro. He is awaiting sentencing. Barratt’s body was found on the side of East West Road in Dummerston on July 29, 2011. Caraballo was suspected of shooting her on July 28 because he believed she stole from him a safe full of thousands of dollars worth of drugs. While the jury in a federal district court in Rutland didn’t convict him of actually pulling the trigger of the gun that was used to kill Barratt, it did find him guilty of causing her death.
Zygmont, who was the mother of a child belonging to Caraballo, had been detained prior to her sentencing after prosecutors learned she had been discussing with Caraballo via telephone their individual cases and the nature of witnesses and their testimony. She had agreed to plead guilty to one count of distributing controlled substances in Vermont and Massachusetts.
Zygmont was one of a number of people accused by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont of conspiring with Caraballo to distribute drugs.
On Oct. 24, Thomas Parrott, 33, of Putney, was sentenced to 58 months in a federal prison. Parrott testified at Caraballo’s trial that he traded a handgun for drugs a few weeks before Barratt was shot. Prior to sentencing, Parrott had pleaded guilty to one count of possessing a Glock 17 9mm pistol that had been shipped and transported in interstate commerce and to one count of cocaine distribution.
Others who were accused of conspiracy to distribute drugs include Kirstin Waterman, of Brattleboro, Toni Lynn Fontaine, of Windsor, and Douglas Radcliffe, of Bennington. Plea agreements have been reached with all three, who also testified during Caraballo’s trial. Radcliffe and Waterman are scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 9. Fontaine is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 10.
On Dec. 16, Joshua Makhanda-Lopez, who testified he was with Caraballo when Caraballo shot and killed Barratt, is due to be sentenced on Dec. 16.
U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss is currently reviewing a motion filed by Caraballo’s attorneys asking her to overturn their client’s conviction because they believe none of the evidence submitted at trial indicated that Caraballo directed or caused anyone to murder Barratt.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office responded to the motion, contending "In light of the extensive evidence that (Joshua) Lopez acted at Caraballo’s direction in the drug conspiracy, the jury could easily conclude from the evidence that either Caraballo pulled the trigger or Lopez pulled the trigger at Caraballo’s behest."
On Oct. 23, Chrisanna Gagne, 23, of Keene, N.H., who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine with Caraballo’s brother, Michael Caraballo, was sentenced to a prison term of 32 months to be followed by four years of supervised release. In October of 2012, Michael Caraballo was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He had also been charged with participating in a drive-by shooting in Brattleboro in which no one was injured. That charge was dropped when he agreed to plead guilty to drug distribution.
Bob Audette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.