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BURLINGTON — A Bellows Falls man who has been in federal custody for nearly two years on drug charges was sentenced Monday to 102 months in prison.

According to federal court filings, Christopher Paige Jr., 39, pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly and intentionally possessing more than 40 grams of fentanyl with the intent to distribute and one count of a felon being in possession of a firearm.

He was sentenced to 102 months on each of the charges, but the sentences will run concurrently. Upon release, he will be subject to supervision for four years.

The Vermont Drug Task Force had Paige and his girlfriend, Miranda Sevene, under surveillance for several months when they were taken into custody on Dec. 12, 2017. This was about six weeks after the murders of Steven Lovely and Amanda Sanderson on Oct. 27, 2017, allegedly by Justin Orwat, who remains in state custody pending a trial.

According to court documents, in the early morning hours of Oct. 27, Lovely, Sanderson, Orwat and his wife, Tami, spent "a considerable amount of time" at the home of Paige on School Street in Bellows Falls. While there, the four people consumed heroin, cocaine, bath salts, marijuana and Klonopin.

A few hours later, Lovely and Sanderson were dead of gunshot wounds. According to court documents, Lovely suspected Orwat of stealing drugs and money from him. After an argument, Orwat allegedly shot Lovely and Sanderson to death in the Townshend home where the four were living. Orwat, in an attempt to cover up his crime, set the Shirley Circle residence on fire, burning it to the ground, according to police.

In July 2018, Paige's attorneys asked the federal court to release Paige into an inpatient drug treatment program. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Vermont opposed Paige's release.

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"After successful completion of the Valley Vista program, Mr. Paige will participate in an outpatient treatment program and will reside with his parents in Bellows Falls, who are supportive of his release and recovery," wrote Paige's attorney. "Mr. Paige has also secured employment with a construction company in Bellows Falls and will be able to commence work after he is released from Valley Vista."

"Paige, a man with six felony convictions, including drug felonies and federal firearm convictions," wrote the U.S. Attorney's Office in opposition to his release, "was again on pretrial supervision while possessing an assault rifle with a bullet in the chamber and two magazines of ammunition. Across the hall, he stored more than 2500 bags of fentanyl as well as bath salts. The danger presented by such a man is not one that can be addressed by more conditions of release."

The U.S. Attorney's Office noted Paige has at least six prior felony convictions, including being convicted of being an unlawful user of drugs in possession of a firearm, as well as engaging in an unlawful interstate firearm transaction. In 2011, he was convicted of obstruction of justice and marijuana cultivation in Windham Superior Court, Criminal Division. In 2013, he was again convicted in Windham County, this time for possession of heroin.

The federal court eventually denied Paige's request for release. Because he has been in custody for two years, those 24 months in prison are considered part of his 102-month sentence.

In February 2019, Sevene was sentenced to time served followed by three years of supervised release on the condition she report to a treatment center.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.