One by one, three young people were arraigned in Windsor County court Tuesday, accused of carrying out a bizarre extortion plot.
"Allegations that the granddaughter threatened harm against her grandmother to extort is certainly a unique set of facts," Windsor County State's Attorney Robert Sand said.
Patricia Swanson, 73, called Vermont State police Monday night, claiming she received a call at her home in Sharon from an unknown man. The man reportedly ordered her to bring $600 to a location near South Royalton High School. The caller said he was holding Swanson's 19-year-old granddaughter hostage and planned to kill her unless he got the money. Police say Swanson's granddaughter, Megan, was crying for help on the phone.
"When the grandmother said she did not have that type of cash, there was a direct threat to the grandmother," Sand said.
Fearing for her life and her granddaughter's life, police worked out a plan with Swanson. They arranged for the drop to take place. Watching in unmarked cruisers, authorities say Joshua Rice, 20, of Sharon, came and grabbed the cash. Police then pulled over a car leaving the scene. Inside they found the money, Kevin Emery, 21, of South Royalton, and the alleged hostage, Swanson's granddaughter, Megan. But police say she was fine. And they say she was part of the extortion plan. She and the two men are now facing felony charges. They pleaded not guilty.
"Miss Swanson, the defendant, said she concocted this story because she owed a drug debt," Sand said.
Police say she claimed she needed the money to pay off a drug dealer in Randolph who threatened her.
WCAX spoke with Patricia Swanson and she declined a request for an on-camera interview for this story. But she says that she is not mad at her granddaughter, that she loves her very much and will help her through the situation.
Megan Swanson was already due in court Tuesday, accused of stealing property from her grandmother before this incident. She and the other two suspects were released. They face up to three years in jail if convicted of extortion.
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