Court

Inside Windham Superior Court, Criminal Division.

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BRATTLEBORO — A local man hoping to get his life back together pleaded guilty to 10 charges related to impaired driving, theft and violating court-ordered conditions of release.

On Tuesday in Windham Superior Court, Criminal Division, Judge Katherine Hayes said the plea agreement calls for Jude Mischke to serve two years and two months to seven years in jail.

Mischke, appearing via teleconferencing software from Northeast Correctional Complex, said he had enough time to think through the agreement and speak with his two attorneys in the cases. He apologized to the community for the crimes and confirmed he is attending recovery meetings for substance use.

The 10 charges include two driving under the influence counts in Brattleboro in September 2021, violation of conditions of release in September related to a curfew, grand larceny in September 2021 for stealing an e-bike when he was 53 years old, petty larceny in September 2021, two additional violations of conditions in February 2022 related to drinking or possessing alcohol and entering a property he was banned from, and two retail theft counts in February 2022 for stealing 10 pints of ice cream from Rite Aid in Brattleboro, and ice cream as well as other items from Walgreens in Brattleboro.

Deputy State’s Attorney David Gartenstein said Mischke was held on bail at various times when the cases were pending then accumulated more charges when he failed to appropriately follow through with treatment when bail was suspended twice. Gartenstein noted probation would not have been appropriate in the agreement.

Mischke has charges in Caledonia County, Orange County and Rutland County “but they were part of this global negotiation,” Gartenstein said. Mischke is anticipated to change pleas in the other counties soon.

“The conduct at issue here was destructive,” Gartenstein said. “It was disruptive. It violated the peace and quiet and enjoyment of many, many people’s lives. The DUIs are dangerous but the most troubling from my perspective, my office’s perspective, is that on that unlawful trespass ... the defendant just walked into a residence where the person was present and home, and she didn’t know him, and she had a right to be safe and free and live peacefully at her home.”

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Due to Mischke already serving about a year in prison, Gartenstein said the minimum sentence will likely be reduced by about 25 percent and the maximum sentence will likely be cut by 25 percent if he is on furlough. Gartenstein roughly estimated the sentence will result in about a year in prison and four years in state supervision. Furlough is a higher level of supervision in which a violation leads back to imprisonment.

Attorney Mimi Brill of the Windham County Public Defender’s Office said Mischke had been sober for about three years before the cases were filed and even served as a recovery coach in the community working at Turning Point of Windham County.

“He’s got good supports in the community,” Brill said. “What happened in 2021 is he lost his dad and I think that was very, very difficult for Jude.”

Brill described the crimes as “addiction driven” with “no intent to injure, harm or upset.”

“It’s a shame to see what this disease does to people,” Hayes said. “It’s obviously this was all fueled by substance use in large part.”

Hayes told Mischke it is appropriate to hold him responsible.

“This sentence is part of your amends for all of these events,” Hayes said.