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East Corinth man sentenced to nine months in explosives case

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 5/25/2020 9:13:35 PM
Modified: 5/25/2020 9:13:31 PM

BURLINGTON — A 42-year-old East Corinth man has received a nine-month federal prison sentence for possessing explosive materials during a traffic stop on Interstate 91 in Hartford last year.

Mark A. Mattiace, 42, was credited during his sentencing in U.S. District Court in Burlington earlier this month for the nine months he has been in federal custody since his arrest last August.

Senior Federal Judge William K. Sessions agreed to order Mattiace released from the Essex County (N.Y.) Jail on May 11 with the understanding he would be driven immediately to Valley Vista, a drug rehab center in Bradford, Vt.

The judge told Mattiace the successful completion of the residential drug treatment program would be one of the conditions imposed under his two years of supervised release. Sessions also assessed him $100 in court costs.

The federal sentencing guidelines for a felony charge of possession of explosive materials by a felon proposes a sentence between 24 and 30 months. The guidelines are discretionary. Sessions, after hearing arguments, agreed to a downward departure request by the defense and calculated the range to be eight to 14 months.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Gilman said there was “significant possible danger” in the explosives case and everybody was fortunate that nobody got hurt.

Gilman said Mattiace cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when confronted and when asked about his knowledge concerning explosives in Orange County.

Chief Federal Public Defender Michael L. Desautels, who asked for a downward departure in the sentencing guidelines, noted Mattiace’s age made him unlikely to reoffend and that he had not been a problem in prison.

Desautels said when Mattiace returns to his home community he has a committed relationship with Katie Southworth, who was described in an earlier court hearing as his fiancée. Mattiace, after he was arrested, said he last worked for a gardening company operated by his fiancée.

Desautels also mentioned Mattiace coming to the aid of an elderly women who he spotted in high grass off the side of a road while he was a passenger in a friend’s car. Mattiace made the driver turn around so he could investigate, and he located the woman, who needed medical attention.

The indictment said Mattiace unlawfully possessed a blasting cap, detonation cord and pentaerythritol tetranitrate, an explosive material. The seized grenade did not have powder, but the other explosive items were a problem, the ATF said in court papers.

Authorities found the evidence after a Honda Civic driven by Mattiace was pulled over by Hartford Police Cpl. Eric Clifford about 2:30 a.m. July 7, 2019, federal court records show.

The ATF, which later took over the investigation, said Mattiace is prohibited from possessing explosives because he is a convicted felon. Mattiace has six felony convictions, including two for 2016 drug charges in Coos County in northern New Hampshire, the ATF said in court records. His other felonies are from Alabama between 1997 and 2003 and include burglary, receiving stolen property and breaking and entering into a vehicle, Gilman said in his sentencing memo.

Sessions said he thought it was important for Mattiace to get some immediate intensive drug treatment as he returned to the community.

Mattiace said he had received some drug treatment at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans and later at the Essex County (N.Y.) Jail, but due to COVID-19, the rehab program for inmates had stopped.

He apologized to the court during the May 11 hearing.

“I’ve had drug use problems,” he said. Mattiace had tested positive for methamphetamine when he was arrested on the federal charge, U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy noted at the first hearing last August.

Under questioning from Sessions, Mattiace said he got the explosive material through his connection with “my buddy in the military.”

Mattiace said he stored explosives for his friend, who had been trained and used them “recreationally.”

The friend’s name was never mentioned by name in court during Mattiace’s sentencing, but was identified earlier in court papers.

Sgt. Jeremy A. Longto, 39, a longtime Vermont National Guardsman, pleaded guilty last month to a federal charge of improperly storing high-powered military explosives known as “C-4” on his Corinth property in August 2019, court records show.

The “C-4” explosives had been taken from the Vermont National Guard and never returned, court records show. Longto initially buried the explosives on his land and the disposal failed to comply with federal regulations approved by the U.S. Attorney General, his federal charge noted.

Chief Federal Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford placed Longto on probation for one year and assessed him $1,025 in fines and court costs as part of the signed plea agreement.

Longto, who was still in the Vermont Guard, is looking to save his military career, his lawyer said at the sentencing.

The ATF learned from Mattiace last August that Longto had C-4 explosives owned by the National Guard, Special Agent Scott Murray said in a sworn affidavit.

Mattiace said Longto had shared some explosives with him and showed him a video on C-4 explosives, Murray wrote in his 11-page affidavit to secure a federal search warrant for Longto’s property.

Gilman, the prosecutor in both cases, said he thought the Mattiace case was worse because of the drugs.

During the traffic stop, Clifford determined Mattiace’s driver’s license was under suspension and the registration plate on the 2002 Honda sedan did not belong on it, court records show.

Before Mattiace was allowed to leave, Clifford issued a $220 traffic ticket for operating after civil suspension, Hartford Sgt. Karl Ebbighausen reported.

Clifford summoned a tow truck because there was no way to legally drive the Honda. As efforts were underway to have the car towed, police spotted the drugs and grenade, the ATF said.

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

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