Former Brattleboro resident being held on heroin charges

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BRATTLEBORO — A local man who has been held in a federal prison in New York State was denied on Dec. 2 his request to be released into a drug treatment program.

Christopher Baxter, 26, of Brattleboro, was busted in Hinsdale, N.H., on Aug. 22, and cited with possession of heroin. He was also cited with taking a vehicle without the owner's consent and operating a vehicle with a revoked or suspended license.

According to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, in May of this year, Baxter "knowingly and intentionally distributed heroin ..."

In an affidavit submitted to the court, a member of the Vermont Drug Task Force wrote that he began an investigation into Baxter's activities after he spoke with a cooperating individual, who wished to trade information in exchange for consideration on a pending Vermont criminal charge for excessive speed.

"The CI was on probation in New Hampshire for a burglary conviction when the CI sustained the excessive speeding charge," noted the affidavit, which acknowledged the CI had a history of heroin use as well as a number of misdemeanor convictions. The informant was later discharged by the drug task force after it learned he had been cited with new charges, but not before the CI helped implicate Baxter in the dealing of drugs.

"The CI advised me that the CI had purchased heroin from Baxter in the past and sold heroin with Baxter in the past. The CI advised that it could purchase three bundles (30 bags) of heroin from Baxter."

At the time, Baxter was living in Chesterfield, N.H., but he agreed to meet the CI in a parking lot on Putney Road in Brattleboro. During the transaction, which occurred in the bathroom of a local business, Baxter handed over three bundles of heroin in exchange for $150.

"I could also hear Baxter tell the CI that, if he brought him $100 tomorrow, he (Baxter) would give the CI a 'brick,' which I know from my training and experience is a term that refers to 50 bags of heroin," noted the detective.

On Dec. 2, a federal judge denied Baxter's motion to modify his detention order and permit his temporary release into the custody of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.

According to the court documents, Baxter, "a long time drug addict, has never received residential treatment. Defendant knows that he needs residential treatment in order to remain clean and sober. He is ready and willing to appear before the Court and explain his long history of drug addiction and desire to receive intensive in-patient treatment."

Christina Nolan, the assistant U.S. attorney assigned to southern Vermont to prosecute heroin cases, said her office has opposed Baxter's requests to be released into a treatment facility.

"The judge denied this particular motion because he felt a two- to three-week program wasn't enough time," she said. However, said Nolan, the judge suggested Baxter's attorneys submit a new motion for release into a longer-term program.

The U.S. Attorney's Office opposes Baxter's release because he has a significant criminal record, including three pending drug-related cases in three different jurisdictions. In addition, said Nolan, Baxter has a long criminal record that includes prior felonies and probation violations.

Baxter had a previous run in with the law related to drugs in 2010, when he was one of 21 people netted in a drug sweep conducted in Windham and Windsor counties. In 2005, Baxter was involved in a street racing incident that resulted in the death of Stella Livanis, 16, in Guilford. Seven months later, Baxter was busted on Interstate 91 traveling at 105 mph.

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


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