Vt. sheriff's deputy charged with dealing drugs - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. sheriff's deputy charged with dealing drugs

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Gary Harrington Gary Harrington

After a two-decade career in law enforcement, Gary Harrington walked into the Bennington courthouse as the defendant Thursday. He's charged with 13 counts of forgery, extortion, neglect of duty, possession and sale of narcotics.

"He has lived 20 years enforcing the law; he's not the type of person who's going to break the law," said William Wright, Harrington's defense attorney.

The charges already cost Harrington two jobs. His corporal rank with the Bennington County Sheriff's Department and his role as a dispatcher and part-time officer with the Manchester Police.

"We'll enter not guilty pleas to all charges," Wright said.

Prosecutor Erica Marthage says investigators discovered several hundred prescription pills at Harrington's residence Wednesday. Harrington's attorney claims they date back six years, and his client had a prescription for all of them from an old back injury.

"It strains reason to believe that those were validly possessed pills," Vermont Superior Court Judge Nancy Corsones said.

The judge reasoned that pills in baggies and blacked-out labels created reasonable suspicion for a trial. Harrington admitted using Suboxone to kick a prescription pain killer addiction.

His former boss, Bennington County Sheriff Chad Schmidt, says this case shows just how much damage opiate abuse is causing the region.

"It's troubling, it's disturbing. It's something that shocks the conscience, but I think, again, we have the opportunity to show the community we're serious about this, that we'll investigate our own just like we will anyone else," Schmidt said.

Police began investigating Harrington after discovering he may have forged a driver's insurance card for a woman with whom he was having an affair. He allegedly threatened her not to share their secret, but when police questioned her on the unrelated matter, she told them Harrington dealt drugs wholesale through her.

Court documents do not indicate where investigators believe Harrington obtained the pills. A press release from the sheriff's department says they are reviewing the drug take back program, but says they have not uncovered any evidence to suggest that was his supply.

The drug element of the investigation only came to light Tuesday and prosecutors say they'll continue to look into it.

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