State police lieutenant demoted, transferred

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RUTLAND — A Vermont State Police station commander in Rutland, who was placed on temporary paid leave last October, has been permanently removed from his post, demoted and given a new job.

Former Lt. Michael "Stu" Studin, who oversaw the Rutland County barracks for two years, was lowered to detective sergeant and is now assigned to the detective bureau for the Royalton barracks, State Police spokesman Adam Silverman confirmed Thursday.

The changes were effective last week, but were never announced publicly by State Police.

Lt. Jeff Danoski, who was the station commander at the New Haven barracks, has been Studin's replacement in Rutland for five months while he was on paid leave. Sgt. Matt Daley from the New Haven barracks has been filling in for Danoski in Addison County.

Silverman said he expects the department will fill those two posts in the coming days.

Studin, who lives in Chester, has declined comment throughout the case. Efforts to reach him by phone and text messages were unsuccessful Thursday.

He found himself placed on paid leave Oct. 29, 2018 as part of an Internal Affairs Office investigation into an incident reported in Bennington County the day before, officials said.

An off-duty rookie trooper from the Rutland barracks was discovered passed out at the wheel of his private car behind the Cumberland Farms store on Northside Drive in Bennington about 6:30 a.m. Oct. 28, 2018, officials said.

State police also placed Troopers Thomas Stange and Benjamin Irwin, both assigned to the Shaftsbury barracks, on paid leave Oct. 29. They were at the Bennington store for another incident and were asked by a store manager to check on the unresponsive off-duty trooper, Spencer Foucher.

Stange and Irwin remained on paid leave for 17 weeks and eventually returned to work Feb. 25. State police said it hired Stange on July 16, 2012 and Irwin on July 10, 2017.

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Foucher resigned on Oct. 29, one day after the incident at the store. Foucher, who grew up in Bennington, joined the state police Jan. 16, 2018.

It remains unclear if Studin's case is directly or indirectly connected to the Foucher/Irwin/Stange investigation.

All investigations by the VSP Internal Affairs Office are withheld from normal public review under a special Vermont law.

Bennington County State's Attorney Erica Marthage said based on the report provided by State Police there was not enough evidence to file any criminal charge. She said the two troopers never requested a breath test from their colleague.

The Vermont Department of Public Safety, which oversees state police, initially denied a public records request late last year seeking information about the four troopers. After a request for reconsideration, the state police opted to provide some material.

Studin joined the State Police on July 14, 2003. He later became a senior trooper and was promoted to patrol sergeant at the Rockingham barracks March 24, 2013. He was promoted to lieutenant and named station commander in Rutland County on Sept. 4, 2016.

By coincidence - Studin's administrative leave began exactly 10 years to the day from another high profile discipline case involving him.

Studin made a splash Oct. 29, 2008 when he drove a super-charged unmarked state police cruiser at 133 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone on I-91 in Rockingham and passed then-Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Tremblay and his wife in their private vehicle.

Instead of charging Studin in criminal court, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell's office issued Studin a civil speeding ticket. Studin was eventually assessed $1,036 in fine and fees, records show. The speed was determined by the in-cruiser video for the 2008 Dodge Charger normally reserved for the Southern Traffic Safety Unit.

Studin, who was assigned to the Southern Vermont Drug Task Force at the time, was transferred back into the uniform division Jan. 4, 2009 and faced other internal discipline, the department and union members said at the time.


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