Kainen pledges to work with Springfield on drug crime
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | April 24,2013
SPRINGFIELD — Windsor County State’s Attorney Michael Kainen said Monday that young men from Jersey City, N.J., are coming to Springfield to buy guns and sell or trade heroin or cocaine.
Kainen, speaking with the Select Board Monday evening at its invitation, said that in his first four weeks as Windsor County’s top law enforcement official several serious drug crimes have occurred in Springfield.
Kainen said he didn’t know why teenagers from Jersey City were coming to Springfield, but that his office had contacted authorities in New Jersey about the suspects and learned they were involved with gangs. The suspects range in age from 16 to 19, he said.
“They have fairly horrific criminal records,” he said, including bringing guns and crack cocaine to school.
They come to Vermont to buy guns and to take them back to Jersey City, he said.
Kainen, a former Orange County deputy state’s attorney and former state representative from Hartford, said he had reorganized his office. He appointed David Cahill as his chief deputy state’s attorney and has put him in charge of felony drug cases.
Cahill had also sought the top prosecutor’s spot.
“Springfield has changed a lot in 10 years,” said Kainen, who ran for s Windsor County Senate seats several years ago.
He said the five individuals arrested in Springfield in the past month were all still in jail, and were charged with possession of drugs, “intimidation and potential violence.”
“I’d certainly like to work with you and your police chief,” said Kainen.
The Springfield Select Board has been focusing a considerable amount of energy on violence and crime issues since last July, when there was a downtown shooting that police said was related to drugs.
“I hope with you there, things will be different,” said Selectman David Yesman.
Kainen was appointed by Gov. Peter Shumlin last month to replace longtime State’s Attorney Robert Sand, who resigned for a position with the Shumlin administration to work on drunk-driving issues.
The Select Board had invited Kainen to come talk with them — “at his earliest convenience” — out of a perceived view that Springfield’s drug cases were either being dismissed or reduced in seriousness.
While Kainen said he couldn’t address past practices, he said he would work with the Springfield Police Department to address any concerns or problems that come up in prosecuting any cases.
Kainen said his office had already spoken with Police Chief Douglas Johnston on issues related to the recent drug arrests, and he said that federal charges are possible because guns were involved. Likewise, he said, he was working with officials in New Hampshire about cases there.
“We’re trying to bring as many charges as possible,” he said.
While Yesman and other board members were critical of Sand’s office’s record, Kainen said any prosecutor had to prioritize between “a quarter-ounce of marijuana or moving heroin.”
He said he was determined “not to lose cases for evidentiary reasons.”