• Seven suspects in court after drug sweep
    By Brent Curtis
    staff writer | August 06,2014
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    Seven suspects arrested last week as part of a Rutland-area drug sweep appeared in court this week to answer to a total of 16 felony offenses.

    The arraignment Monday in Rutland criminal court of Cassandra M. Johnson, 26, Chelsea L. Hill, 22, Jennifer J. Cobb, 37, Demetrius Earle, 23, Michael R. Emerson, 32, Suzanne L. Webster, 28, and Eric C. Stephens, 48, represented the first of what will be 27 arraignments for individuals arrested last week as part of a Vermont Drug Task Force effort to disrupt the drug market in the Rutland area.

    All of the accused reside in Rutland County with the exception of Johnson who has a White River Junction address, according to court records.

    Each of the seven pleaded innocent to the charges against them and every one of the suspects who appeared Monday were charged with at least one felony count of selling either heroin or cocaine.

    Earle answered to the most charges — three felony counts of selling heroin and a misdemeanor charge of possession. However, Cobb, Hill and Emerson also answered to three felony counts of selling either heroin or cocaine.

    Bail was set for most of those charged including bail in the amount of $500 for Johnson; $2,500 for Stephens; and $5,000 for Earle, Hill, Cobb, Webster and Emerson.

    None of the accused remained in jail Tuesday evening.

    The roundup last week, which involved local and federal law enforcement, was a continuation of Operation Fed Up, which took place in the city two years ago, Vermont State Police said last week.

    Officials said the new arrests were built on information gathered in the previous one.

    “This is just all part of a sustained effort by law enforcement to cut off the supply chain into the city and the rest of the state,” Lt. Col. Matthew Birmingham, deputy director of the Vermont State Police Narcotics Investigation Unit, said last week. “We’ve got to drive home the message that the supply of drugs into Rutland is not going to be allowed to continue.”

    Most of the charges were for sale of heroin, cocaine or “narcotic,” with several of the suspects charged with aiding in the commission of a felony, police said last week.

    All of the accused who appeared in court Monday were arrested after allegedly selling drugs to confidential informants working with police.

    According to court records, Hill allegedly sold 30 bags of heroin to an informant on three dates in January; Cobb is charged with selling small amounts of crack cocaine on two occasions and 10 bags of heroin to an informant in May; Earle allegedly sold 10 bags of heroin to an informant once in November and slightly less than 10 bags of the drug on two other dates in November; the charges against Emerson stem from drug sales in January when he allegedly sold 10 bags or less to an informant on three dates; and Webster allegedly sold 10 bags of heroin to an informant twice in October.

    Johnson and Stephens were the only defendants facing single counts of drug sales. Police say Johnson sold two bags of heroin to an informant in May 2013 while Stephens allegedly sold 0.3 grams of crack to an informant in October.

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