Putney man asks for release from detention on drug charges

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PUTNEY — A man who is being detained following an incident on Hi-Lo Biddy Road in late August is asking a federal judge to release him.

But the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont is asking the judge to deny Jason Bunch's request.

"The new motion offers no new facts upon which the Court might alter its decision," wrote U.S. Attorney Eric Miller, in court documents filed Monday. "While Bunch's girlfriend continues to offer a place for him to live, an identified residence in New York cannot alone ensure the safety of the community or the appearance of the defendant in this case. The Court should deny the motion to reconsider."

According to court documents, on Aug. 11, an informant visited Bunch's home in Putney to purchase crack cocaine. Also present during the transaction was Robbull Bryant, 37, who was seen in possession of a silver revolver. Prior to the transaction, the informant told investigators he had visited the residence in the past to purchase both heroin and crack cocaine.

Before the investigation was complete, the Vermont State Police responded to Hi-Lo Biddy Road on Aug. 27 for a report of gunshots. As a result, Jason Robison, 31, of Putney, was arrested and cited with DUI and reckless endangerment and Alfred Spellman, 36, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was arrested and cited with reckless endangerment. Bryant was also arrested and cited with reckless endangerment and Bunch was taken into custody on an outstanding federal arrest warrant. Bryant also had an active federal arrest warrant, according to the news release.

According to the State Police, the altercation began when Robison shot at Bryant and Spellman, and the two men returned fire.

Bryant and Bunch had been under investigation by the Vermont Drug Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations since last year, suspected of trafficking heroin, powder cocaine, and crack cocaine in Windham County. Two days after they were 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, Bryant and Bunch were accused of "knowingly and intentionally" distributing cocaine base.

At the time of Bunch's arraignment on Sept. 1, the court granted the government's motion for pre-trial detention.

"The Court noted specifically that Bunch's offense was serious based on the grand jury's finding of probable cause that Bunch was involved in the distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine, as well as the recovery of a firearm from the residence in Putney at which Bunch was present at the time of his arrest," noted Miller in the document filed on Sept. 26. "The Court further noted that Bunch's history and characteristics weighed against release, noting Bunch's criminal history contained failures to appear and probation violations and that an outstanding warrant for a failure to appear in Pennsylvania remained pending."

In his request for release, Bunch's attorneys noted that he has e enrolled in a 30-day class for hair-cutting because he wanted to get the "proper certification" to support his barber work. and that he lives with young children and "moving forward ... will ensure that he is available to help raise them." Bunch's attorneys also wrote that he does not have a passport and "he has learned from this experience."

"Unfortunately, these statements provide little in the way of new facts on which to revise the Court's decision," wrote Miller. "Whether or not Bunch had enrolled in a 30-day class to learn barbering skills, he was, at the time of his arrest, not at a class in New York, but rather in Putney, Vermont, a town to which he had no apparent connection and was involved in a drug transaction. Further, while it is commendable that Bunch wishes to help raise his young children 'moving forward,' the defense provides no evidence that Bunch's aspiration to be a good parent will prevent him from engaging in drug distribution. Presumably these same children did not limit his activities prior to the charge in this case."

Miller also contended that Bunch has not learned from his experiences. "As the Court pointed out during the prior hearing, however, 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."

No date has been set for the federal judge to render a decision.

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


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