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Former Royalton Officer Pleads Guilty in Drug Case

  • Former Royalton Police Officer John Breault, left, leaves U.S. District Court in Burlington on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, with his attorney, Robert W. Katims. (Mike Donoghue photograph)



Valley News Correspondent
Friday, March 09, 2018

Burlington — A second woman obtained drugs stolen from the Royalton Police Department evidence closet by former full-time officer John Breault, a federal prosecutor disclosed on Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Burlington.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Darrow revealed the new information during a change of plea hearing as Breault pleaded guilty to a felony count of providing heroin from the evidence closet on July 14 to a former high school classmate, who was an addict.

While investigating the first unnamed woman, identified as Confidential Informant 1, who had obtained heroin from Breault, investigators learned a friend of Breault’s, called CI 2, had been provided marijuana by the officer, Darrow said.

“Federal agents learned that Breault also provided marijuana from the Royalton PD evidence closet to a second female,” Darrow told the court.

“CI 2 stated that on July 8, 2017, while she visited him at the police department, Breault gave her an evidence bag containing marijuana,” he said. “In CI 2’s cellphone, agents recovered texts between her and Breault, as well as photographs of her at the Royalton PD, corroborating the information she provided.”

It was the first public disclosure that a second woman had received drugs from Breault, the only officer with access to the evidence closet in mid-2017.

Darrow said after court on Friday that he could not elaborate on the second woman.

On Oct. 19, Breault was named in a three-count indictment — two counts for distributing heroin and one for marijuana. The indictment never said who allegedly received the marijuana.

The original criminal complaint against Breault mentioned two cases of heroin distribution, but never revealed marijuana was taken.

Breault, 31, of Randolph, and his defense lawyer Robert Katims declined comment to the Valley News as they left the fifth-floor courtroom.

Katims in the fall said the allegation against Breault was a serious lapse of judgment and that Breault had helped out a friend, who was a drug addict.

During the 30-minute hearing, Judge Christina Reiss went over a six-page plea agreement that the ex-officer had signed with prosecutors in January. She made sure Breault knew all the legal rights he was giving up before entering his guilty plea.

After being put under oath, Breault offered mostly one- to three-word responses to the judge’s questions. Breault, who said he has an associate degree, did tell the court he has been receiving mental health counseling since October.

Reiss asked Darrow the basis for the heroin charge, and the veteran prosecutor outlined what the government’s case would have been had it gone to trial.

After Darrow spoke, Breault said he thought the government could prove the felony charge.

Reiss set the sentencing for 10 a.m. on July 12 in Burlington. She ordered a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

Breault faces up to 20 years in prison, followed by at least three years of supervised release. He also could be fined up to $1 million.

However, Breault is expected to get a tiny fraction of the possible penalty because he has cooperated with authorities, has no known criminal record and no known history of drug use — three major considerations under the federal sentencing guidelines for reducing his punishment.

Under the plea bargain, prosecutors have agreed to recommend Breault receive a two-point credit for acceptance of responsibility under the advisory guidelines. It is subject to him being truthful when the Probation Office prepares its comprehensive report on his life, including about his own conduct during the crime.

Breault had been a police officer for about nine years. He initially started as a part-time deputy sheriff in Orange County in 2008, but was fired from that role in less than a year.

Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak told the Valley News in the fall that Breault had two stalking orders from New Hampshire against him.

He cooperated in one case, but not the second case, Bohnyak said, which forced him to fire the new deputy.

At the time of his arrest, Breault also worked part-time as a security guard at Vermont Technical College in Randolph. He initially was initially placed on leave, but later resigned.

Mike Donoghue can be reached at vermontnewsfirst@gmail.com.