Local & Regional Briefs for Wednesday, Feb. 26

Woman Pleads Guilty In Vt. Prison Drug Smuggling

White River Junction — A 23-year-old St. Johnsbury woman pleaded guilty to helping smuggle marijuana into the state prison in Windsor for her incarcerated boyfriend.

Trisha Belliveau pleaded guilty on Monday to transportation of marijuana into a detention center, a misdemeanor. She was sentenced to three to six months in prison.

Belliveau has an extensive criminal record, including numerous counts of forgery and an escape custody-furlough conviction, in which she was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2011.

Wesley Kidder, a 24-year-old inmate at the Southeast State Correctional Facility in Windsor, told police that he contacted Belliveau and “pressured her into helping him,” according to a police affidavit.

Authorities allege Belliveau gave corrections officer Brett Jasinski two bags containing 1/8 of an ounce of marijuana, three packs of cigarettes and $150 during a meeting on Aug. 23.

Kidder pleaded guilty in December to transporting marijuana into a correctional facility and was sentenced to zero to 3 months in prison, which is to be served after his current sentence.

Jasinski, 46, of Chester, Vt., is also charged with transporting marijuana into a correctional facility. He pleaded not guilty in December and has a court appearance scheduled for April.

Belliveau is currently at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington, Vt.

Shumlin Signs Mid-Year Budget Adjustment Bill

South Burlington, Vt. (ap) — Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has signed into law a mid-year budget adjustment bill that increases funding for Medicaid by more than $7 million, but achieves nearly that much in savings on the state employee health insurance plan.

The budget adjustment bill also increases state reserve funds, expands opiate addiction treatment and adds money for emergency housing services, homeowners’ and renters’ rebates. The Governor signed the bill at the Howard Center in South Burlington. The Howard Center includes a drug treatment facility that will receive a portion of the $200,000 included for reducing the treatment waiting list.

Green Mountain Care Board Chairman: Taxes Will Fund Single-Payer

Montpelier (ap) — When it comes to paying for a single-payer health care system in Vermont, the chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board is blunt — it’s going to be a tax.

While the Legislature will be designing the new system and making decisions about how to finance it, the Green Mountain Care Board will decide if it is in the state’s best interests.

Al Gobeille, the board’s chairman, told Vermont Public Radio that unlike others, he isn’t running away from the money question. He said it’s going to come from a tax, and the question is what is the best tax.

According to revised estimates presented to lawmakers this month, a single-payer system could cost the state $1.7 billion to $2.1 billion. — Staff and Wire reports