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Man Held in Royalton Resident’s Disappearance Charged With Fraud



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, April 12, 2018

White River Junction — A 38-year-old Hartford man who is facing federal firearms charges and has been identified as a suspect in the disappearance of Royalton resident Austin Colson has been charged on an unrelated fraud allegation in state court.

Richard Whitcomb didn’t appear on Tuesday for his arraignment in Windsor Superior Court on a felony home improvement fraud charge because he already is in federal custody.

State prosecutors on April 5 filed the charge, which alleges he cashed a $3,000 check to build a deck for a Hartford man but never followed through with the job, according to a Hartford police affidavit written by officer Daniel Solomita.

The man who alleges Whitcomb didn’t do the work he paid him for went to police on Feb. 19, which was four days after a federal judge ordered Whitcomb held without bail pending trial on two federal gun charges in U.S. District Court in Burlington.

Whitcomb allegedly cashed the check for the deck work on Nov. 28 and had said he would deliver materials to the man’s house the next day but never did, the affidavit states.

Whitcomb blamed the project delay on an ongoing custody dispute, according to text messages, the affidavit states.

A judge issued an arrest warrant for Whitcomb on Tuesday and set bail at $5,000.

Whitcomb already is facing federal charges that allege he had unlawful possession of a .32-caliber semi-automatic pistol as a convicted felon and carried and used the .32-caliber pistol during the distribution of cocaine last month.

He will go before a federal judge next week in that case for a hearing on whether he can be released to attend Valley Vista, a drug rehabilitation facility in the Upper Valley.

Court documents assert Whitcomb used a handgun as collateral in a cocaine deal with the 19-year-old Colson in January.

Colson, now 20, was last seen on Jan. 11, when he was expected to collect scrap metal in the Royalton area.

Vermont State Police Detective Lt. John-Paul Schmidt said investigators actively are searching for Colson. He declined to release the locations of where police have searched recently.

“This is still a priority for us,” he said. “We have by no means forgotten about Austin and his family.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.