WCAX Investigates: Are laws needed to protect parolees? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

WCAX Investigates: Are laws needed to protect parolees?

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"What he did was wrong. What he did was totally wrong," says parolee Chris Cafferky.

Former inmate Chris Cafferky says a corrections officer he knew from lock-up came into his home, asking for access to his prescription testosterone. The guard was looking to bulk up. Cafferky -- on parole for his third DUI -- says he was too scared to say no.

"Honesty is the best policy," he says.

Cafferky says as an ex-con, few would believe his allegations. So he secretly taped a uniformed guard he identifies as Travis Bartley. During the 14-minute cell phone video, the corrections officer appears to pocket two vials and four hypodermic needles -- before offering to pay Cafferky.

The video exchange went like this:

Barkley: "Chris, what do I owe you?"

Cafferky: "You don't owe me a thing."

Barkley: "I want to give you something because I appreciate you going out of your way to help me out."

Cafferky: "You don't owe me a thing."

"Absent proof these kinds of things are hard to believe," says Vt. Defender General Matthew Valerio.

Vermont's Defender General calls the guard's behavior troubling. And says parolees are ripe for this type of abuse, given their diminished credibility.

"There is an inherent power disparity. And when you look at this video what you see, is that exact thing, in action," Valerio says.

"There is a burden on the state when we get a report, that we have to follow through and find out what it is," says Vt. Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito.

Pallito says there's no doubt the guard abused his authority and resigned when confronted with these allegations. But Pallito argues the guard's actions go beyond a fireable offense.

"It's a criminal offense. It's a criminal offense," Pallito says.

That puts the commissioner at odds with state police and prosecutors, who say Bartley did not break Vermont law.

"It doesn't look good. I'm not going to disagree with that. But based upon that alone we cannot manufacture a charge to satisfy the public opinion," says Major Ed. Ledo with the Vt. State Police.

Police say they can't prove what the substance was. And even if they could, testosterone is not regulated on the state level.

"Our hands are tied. The prosecutor's hands are tied," Ledo says.

"I believe myself as a parolee and every parolee, probationer deserve a tremendous amount of protection that they don't get," Cafferky says.

Cafferky's case attracted the attention of lawmakers after we revealed Cafferky's video last night.

"My initial reaction was kind of disgusted with the corrections officer's behavior," says Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington County). "I'm surprised that there's nothing illegal about it."

Senator Dick Sears, the judiciary point person in the Senate, says that needs to change.

"We've already put in a drafting request, as we speak, and it will certainly be a topic for review," Sears says.

He says with only few weeks left in the session, lawmakers will not be able to tackle the issue this year. But plan to make it a priority when they return in January.

We have reached out to Travis Bartley for comment. He has not returned our calls. Police admit they did not interview him either after the Lamoille County prosecutor declined to pursue the case. Joel Page refused to speak with us on camera.

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