Local and Regional Briefs: Case Dropped in Randolph-Area Overdose Deaths

Saturday, January 27, 2018
Opioid Cases Dropped Against Vermonters

Chelsea — Prosecutors have decided not to pursue cases against three Vermont residents, two of whom were cited to appear in court in June in connection with overdose deaths, officials said on Friday.

Assistant Attorney General Bram Karnichfeld said there were problems with evidence in the cases against Harris “Bo” Bradeen and Jessica Bradeen, of Braintree, Vt. The same goes for a similar case involving Jessica Norton, of Roxbury, Vt., he said.

“Upon the conclusion of the investigation, which Vermont State Police conducted, the Attorney General’s Office and the state police developed concerns about the reliability of the confidential informant, and those concerns prevented the Attorney General’s Office from filing any criminal charges,” Karnichfeld said.

Vermont State Police issued a news release last May citing Norton and the Bradeens into court. Police at that time alleged Harris Bradeen sold cocaine to Paul Norton, of Roxbury, Vt., in August 2016, and that Norton died of an overdose.

Jessica Norton was cited at the time on accusations that she sold drugs to Randolph resident Blake Schoenbeck, who died of an overdose in October 2016.

Prosecutors opted, however, not to pursue the cases in court, officials said this week.

Karnichfeld said that “given the sensitive nature of this matter” he couldn’t comment any further.

Vermont Slaughterhouse Sanctioned by USDA

North Springfield, Vt. — A Vermont slaughterhouse that had its operations suspended four times between October 2016 and April for the inhumane treatment of animals has again been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the company said in a news release on Friday.

“On Jan. 22, we experienced a mis-stun of a sheep set for slaughter,” Vermont Packinghouse General Manager Arion Thiboumery said in the release. “This caused the animal to suffer momentarily before another stun could be properly administered.”

Stunning is a process used to render an animal immobile or unconscious prior to slaughtering.

As a result, the USDA suspended slaughter operations for a day at the Fairbanks Road plant, he said.

Operations resumed the next day, he wrote, as USDA officials “were satisfied with the procedures we put in place to correct and avoid another mis-stun.”

According to USDA notices at the time, the North Springfield slaughterhouse in late 2016 and early 2017 failed to effectively stun hogs and cattle several times.

Thiboumery told a Valley News reporter in May that the company made upgrades to its equipment to reduce the possibility of further problems with the stunning and restraint process.

“We are extremely disappointed when an animal suffers on our watch, and we promise to always remain humble and learn and improve from our mistakes,” he said on Friday.

— Staff and wire reports