Four People Convicted for Gun and Drug Crimes Committed in Barre
Burlington, VT – The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, stated that on February 14, 2012, Ronald Newton, 24, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, plead guilty in United States District Court to an indictment charging him with conspiring to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Chief United States District Judge Christina Reiss, sitting in Rutland, ordered Newton to be incarcerated until his sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for June 4, 2012.
According to court records, Newton and co-defendant, Terry Bahner, conspired to sell cocaine from Bahner's Barre residence between April and May of 2011. With Bahner's assistance, Newton would obtain cocaine from sources in Philadelphia and then traffic it to Barre for re-sale.
On May 14, 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, together with other law enforcement agencies, executed a search warrant at Bahner's residence. There they found Newton in an upstairs bedroom. In a drawer near his bed, they recovered a quantity of cocaine packaged for distribution and a loaded .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun. Newton is a convicted felon and is therefore prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms. Further investigation revealed that Bahner's wife, Bethany Pastuszak, had purchased the handgun for Newton at a local gun store.
On the cocaine charges, Newton faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. For possessing the firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, he faces up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum term of five years.
Newton, Bethany Pastuszak, Terry Bahner, and Lestly Westcott, Bahner's stepfather, were charged with various drug and gun crimes in a 14-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on May 25, 2011.
Bethany Pastuszak has pled guilty to making a false statement in connection with her purchase of the handgun for Newton. She faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and is scheduled to appear before Judge Reiss for sentencing on April 30, 2012. She has been released to the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office pending sentencing.
Terry Bahner has pled guilty to conspiring to distribute cocaine and illegally transferring a firearm. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison on the cocaine charge and up to five years in federal prison on the gun charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Reiss on April 12, 2012 and also remains released pending sentencing.
Lestly Westcott has pled guilty to one count of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and one count of distributing controlled substances. He faces up to 10 years in prison on the gun charge and up to 20 years in prison on the drug charge. Westcott's sentencing is scheduled before Judge Reiss on May 31, 2012. He too remains released pending sentencing.
United States Attorney Tristram J. Coffin commended the efforts of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, the Barre City Police Department, the Montpelier Police Department, the Vermont State Police, and the U.S. Border Patrol for their hard work and coordinated efforts on this investigation. The prosecutor is Assistant United States Attorney Timothy C. Doherty, Jr. Newton is represented by Douglas Kallen. Bahner is represented by Robert Behrens. Westcott is represented by Michael Straub and Pastuszak is represented by Robert Sussman.
United States Attorney Coffin noted that this prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice's Project Safe Neighborhood, a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America. Led by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Project Safe Neighborhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who violate federal gun laws. For more information about Project Safe Neighborhood and Project Safe Vermont, please visit: www.psn.gov.