Court photo

Inside Windham Superior Court, Criminal Division.

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BRATTLEBORO — A local man is serving time in prison after pleading guilty to drug charges.

Christopher Akey, 40, of Brattleboro, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine, narcotics and heroin during a hearing in Windham Superior Court, Criminal Division on March 6. The heroin charge is a felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail.

As part of the plea agreement, Akey will serve a minimum of three years and a maximum of 13 years.

Attorney Joshua Stern of Massucco & Stern said the sentence ultimately is up to the Vermont Department of Corrections. He noted Akey had about more than 400 days of credit for the case docket at the time of the hearing.

Akey was arrested in October 2019 for the offense. Deputy State’s Attorney Steven Brown said no promises were made regarding how DOC would calculate the number of days Akey has left to serve.

A search of Akey’s residence in September by the DOC and Brattleboro Police Department yielded cocaine and 31 bags of heroin/fentanyl under his mattress. A safe in the apartment belonging to Akey contained about 650 bags of heroin/fentanyl, which each weighed about 17.7 milligrams.

“The defendant has twice been convicted of being found responsible for the deaths of individuals where he placed the drugs into the market,” Brown said. “We are now in a position where the defendant had a quantity of drug that the state believed went beyond what individuals typically have for personal use. The way the drugs were packaged, how the drugs were stored and the information that we had received led us to believe that the defendant was again engaged in the distribution of drugs in our community.”

Stern called the case “serious.”

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“It’s a very lengthy sentence for drug possession,” Stern said, acknowledging Akey has “a very significant criminal record ... It’s very clear Mr. Akey has long struggled with very severe depression. Unfortunately, in the past, he has sought to self medicate that depression.”

Hospitalized at the Brattleboro Retreat just before the arrest, Akey tried to take his life by using heroin. He “was in a very difficult position,” Stern said. “He was in an incredibly difficult frame of mind at the time. He has done a lot.”

Akey said he has been working with a counselor on substance use and mental health issues since he got out of jail about two years ago.

“I talk with her all the time,” he said. “When I get out, I’ll be able to keep working with her.”

Akey said he is participating in a methadone clinic and is being treated for bipolar disorder.

“It’s a difficult history you have,” Judge Katherine Hayes said. “Things you have done have caused serious harm.”

Akey said he had been storing up drugs to end his life. Hayes told him she hopes he will not return to using or selling drugs when he gets out.

“It kills people,” Hayes said. “You know that. You found that out the really hard way.”