"Peaceful, quiet, family going and gathering-- it's a good place to raise your kids and stuff," said Steven Palmer of Bennington.
Palmer loves his hometown. The resident was stunned by news that police are investigating a prostitution ring.
"It is just hard to believe that there would be one in Bennington and Bennington County of all places," Palmer said.
But investigators say the evidence starting piling up after they interviewed Kayla Foucher, a 23-year-old Bennington resident. She told Bennington Police she was a prostitute and named numerous other young women who were selling sex for money and drugs.
"The investigation is centered around an individual going by the name of Jason Balsh on Facebook and was soliciting various girls to engage in prostitution or sex for money," Bennington County State's Attorney Erica Marthage said.
Jason Balsh is the alleged pimp running the ring. A search warrant for Balsh's Facebook account shows conversations between Balsh and another woman, who Foucher says is a friend that introduced her to Balsh. Foucher says she worked for Balsh, whom she never met face-to-face.
"He would text me. He wouldn't tell me the names; he would just say that somebody was coming," Foucher said.
She says Balsh assigned her three streets to work: Park Street, Pleasant Street and School Street. Foucher says she was given a description of the vehicle, and if the client drove up and down the street three times, she was to get in the car and make arrangements for sexual activity.
In a recently released affidavit, court papers say Thomas Lyons owns Bennington Subaru and admitted to having sex with Foucher. She described Lyons as a regular client. A search of the business and Lyons' home led police to seize computers, cellphones and other electronics.
"Charges are imminent, regardless of the fact that the computer analysis hasn't been done as thoroughly as it could if I had up to a year," Marthage said.
And investigators are looking into whether Lyons is actually running the call girl operation as Jason Balsh on Facebook.
"There have been some cursory evaluations of the computer done that make me feel comfortable pursuing whatever charges are going to come out of this investigation," Marthage said.
Marthage says the investigation will be wrapping up shortly and she expects to see charges being pressed within a week. She also says that whoever is found to be portraying Jason Balsh could be facing criminal charges.
Tuesday, December 10 2013 12:42 AM EST2013-12-10 05:42:52 GMT
A busy night Monday at the Burlington city council meeting where redistricting the city was a major discussion. Population shifts have forced the city to remap Burlington's districts to create more equalMore >>
A busy night Monday at the Burlington city council meeting where redistricting the city was a major discussion.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 12:41 AM EST2013-12-10 05:41:52 GMT
Burlington considers plans for the run-down Moran Plant. For 25 years, the coal-fired power plant has stood empty on the Burlington waterfront. A proposed project -- called the "New Moran" -- would beMore >>
Burlington considers plans for the run-down Moran Plant.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 12:41 AM EST2013-12-10 05:41:12 GMT
A child playing with a lighter was responsible for a Champlain, New York apartment fire. That's according to the Champlain Fire Department. Firefighters arrived at this apartment complex at 25 SpruceMore >>
A child playing with a lighter was responsible for a Champlain, New York apartment fire. That's according to the Champlain Fire Department.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 12:39 AM EST2013-12-10 05:39:43 GMT
An equipment fire kept crews busy in Middlebury Monday. About 30 firefighters responded to a blaze at the Champlain Valley Equipment facility on Exchange Street. The Middlebury fire chief says there'sMore >>
An equipment fire kept crews busy in Middlebury Monday.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 12:35 AM EST2013-12-10 05:35:13 GMT
Police say a woman walked out of the WalMart in Williston with two stolen computers Monday.The suspect was caught on surveillance cameras. The HP Pavilion computers are worth more than $1,000. If youMore >>
Police say a woman walked out of the Wal Mart in Williston with two stolen computers Monday.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 10:26 PM EST2013-12-10 03:26:26 GMT
South Burlington is using a grant to tackle the slew of vacant properties near the airport.The city will use $17,000 for community outreach and research to make a plan for the homes. They were purchasedMore >>
South Burlington is using a grant to tackle the slew of vacant properties near the airport.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 8:51 PM EST2013-12-10 01:51:48 GMT
When it comes to education, teachers say they know what it takes to motivate students, and also what doesn't work -- including standardized testing, cookie cutter curriculums and what NEA President MarthaMore >>
The Vermont NEA unveiled its "Agenda for Student Success" proposal Monday, and it points to a new computer education program at one high school as the type of learning kids need.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 8:43 PM EST2013-12-10 01:43:09 GMT
"We are trying to create a few new affordable housing units so that people have a chance to move beyond shelter and regain their independence," said Rita Markley, Executive Director of the Committee onMore >>
COTS reaching out to Old North End neighbors in the development of new affordable housing and a daystation.More >>