Additional charge against Vt. tractor rampage suspect - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Additional charge against Vt. tractor rampage suspect

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Roger Pion Roger Pion

The criminal charges keep piling up for Roger Pion, the man police say used a farm tractor like a monster truck to destroy seven Orleans County Sheriff's cruisers back in August. Since then, the Newport man has become somewhat of a legend.

"He's a folk hero," said Derick Niles of Newport. "He's got a following. He's worldwide. He did what everyone around here has been dreaming of doing."

Pion's growing fame extends beyond the city limits. In cyberspace, out-of-state T-shirt companies are selling clothing with slogans like "Free Roger Pion." On Facebook, a page has popped up-- Roger Pion, the Magnificent. It has more than 4,500 supporters and likens the man, who has 17 prior misdemeanor convictions, to Ethan Allen.

"Because he's fighting for the people. Because we are oppressed by the police," Niles said.

Niles even contributed $10 to Pion's defense fund. According to Pion's lawyer, donations are coming in from around the globe.

"We are all just cheering him on," Niles said.

But prosecutors say the $300,000 demolition is no laughing matter. They've already slapped Pion with 14 criminal charges and planned to add another misdemeanor to the list Tuesday. Pion didn't show up. The judge was willing to wait, but not for long.

"If he doesn't appear by 4 though, I will grant the state's request for a consecutive $5,000 warrant," Vt. Superior Court Judge Howard VanBenthuysen said.

Pion has only been free for 19 days. The threat of an arrest was enough to get him to court. Prosecutors say the custom cropper did not have a valid driver's license during his alleged rampage, and it took them a few weeks to confirm he needed one if he was going to drive a farm tractor on the road. Pion denied the charge and was free to go. He had nothing to say to us.

Pion's conditions of release say he cannot operate a motor vehicle or a tractor.

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