Three Charged in Alleged Prison Drug Smuggling
Brett Jasinski, of Chester, Vt., an officer at the Southern State Correctional Facility, right, talks with his attorney, Melvin Fink, before his arraignment in Windsor District Court in White River Junction Tuesday.Valley News — James M. Patterson Purchase photo reprints »
White River Junction — A 46-year-old Chester, Vt., corrections officer pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of smuggling marijuana to an inmate in the state prison in Windsor.
The girlfriend of the inmate also pleaded not guilty in the alleged scheme, but the inmate himself pleaded guilty yesterday.
Authorities said Trisha Belliveau, 23, of St. Johnsbury, gave corrections officer Brett Jasinski $150, three packs of cigarettes and two bags each containing 1/8 of an ounce of marijuana during a meeting on Aug. 23, according to police affidavits.
Jasinski was later observed on video tape from the following morning at the Southeast State Correctional Facility in Windsor “hiding a small package in the garbage can right next to his desk,” according to a police affidavit.
Wesley Kidder, a 23-year-old inmate, told police he had been introduced to Jasinski “as a guard who was willing to bring stuff into the jail,” and that he contacted his girlfriend and “pressured her into helping him,” according to an affidavit from Vermont State Police Sgt. John-Paul Schmidt.
Jasinski, in an Oct. 28 interview with state police, denied bringing drugs into the jail but did acknowledge “smuggling cigarettes in for inmates on five or six occasions,” according to the affidavit.
Jasinski and Belliveau each pleaded not guilty to a charge of transporting marijuana into a correctional facility, a misdemeanor.
But Kidder pleaded guilty to the transporting charge and was sentenced to 0 to 3 months, to be served consecutively with his current sentence. Kidder has a lengthy criminal record, including felony larceny convictions and a sexual assault o n a victim under 16 years old.
Kidder appeared in Windsor Superior Court wearing navy blue pants and shirt with a chain wrapped around his waist and his wrists handcuffed.
After Kidder pleaded guilty, Deputy Windsor County State’s Attorney Rhonda Sheffield said she found it “somewhat shocking” that a person can play a role in transporting marijuana into a prison and it’s only a misdemeanor with a maximum of six months.
Judge Karen Carroll agreed with Sheffield.
“I echo what the state said that it is fairly egregious conduct to only result in six months in prison and a $500 fine,” Carroll said.
Despite the judge’s agreement with the prosecutor, she did not lengthen Kidder’s sentence.
“I think it’s always fair if someone is taking responsibility at the time of arraignment there should be a benefit for that,” Sheffield said in an interview after the hearing.
Jasinski appeared in court wearing blue jeans and a maroon collared shirt. He and his attorney, Melvin Fink, declined to comment after the hearing.
Belliveau wore torn blue jeans and a brown Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt and sat in the gallery while Kidder was arraigned. As Kidder was led into the courtroom for his arraignment, Belliveau smiled at him.
After the hearing, Belliveau said in an interview, “It could have been a lot worse. It could have been a felony.”
Jasinski is due back in court in February, Belliveau in January.
Sarah Brubeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3223.