Four Charged for Heroin Conspiracy
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that a federal grand jury has indicted Justin Billings, 25, of Hampton, New York, Jeffrey York, 42, of Castleton, Kenneth Alger, 28, formerly of Whiting, and Benjamin Whitney, 27, of Rutland, for conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin. The indictment also charges Billings with possession of a firearm in furtherance of the conspiracy.
The four men were arrested between January 31 and March 4, 2012. Billings, York and Whitney have appeared in United States District Court in Burlington and entered not guilty pleas to the charges. Alger was arrested in the Orlando, Florida area, and is scheduled for arraignment in Burlington on March 11, 2012. On March 6, 2012, United States Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy detained Billings pending trial. York was initially detained on February 1, 2012, and then released into residential substance abuse treatment on February 26, 2012. Whitney was released on conditions on February 5, 2012.
According to court records, Billings attempted a sale of 25 grams of heroin contained in 399 bags on July 22, 2012. A subsequent search by law enforcement agents of Billings’s residence resulted in the seizure of 369 grams of heroin contained in more than 6,000 bags, approximately $90,000 cash, 10 firearms, ammunition, and a Ford Expedition containing an electronically controlled hidden compartment, and other evidence of drug trafficking. During the conspiracy, Billings regularly picked up approximately 10,000 bags of heroin from his supplier and distributed as much as multiple hundreds of bags of heroin daily to his co-conspirators.
United States Attorney Tristram J. Coffin emphasized that the charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty. If convicted, Alger, York, and Whitney face a potential term of imprisonment between 10 years and life, and Billings faces a potential term between 15 years and life. Any actual sentences in the event of conviction will be determined pursuant to the advisory federal sentencing guidelines and the federal statutory sentencing factors.
The investigation arose out of Operation Fed Up, a collaborative effort by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies focused on drug, gun and other crimes in Rutland. United States Attorney Tristram J. Coffin commended the joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations; United States Marshal’s Service; Vermont Drug Task Force; Vermont State Police; Vermont Department of Liquor Control; Vermont Department of Corrections Probation and Parole; Addison County Sheriff’s Department; Rutland County Sheriff’s Department; Brandon Police Department; and Rutland City Police Department. United States Attorney Coffin added, “Heroin destroys lives and communities. We will continue to work with law enforcement at all levels to ensure that drug traffickers in Rutland and elsewhere are brought to justice.” The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig S. Nolan of the United States Attorney’s Rutland Branch Office.