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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Vermont

Monday, September 29, 2014

Barre Woman To Serve 48 Months In Federal Prison For Distributing Crack Cocaine And Oxycodone Pills

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that on September 29, 2014, Heather Brown, 33, of Barre, Vermont, was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison for distributing hundreds of ounces of crack cocaine and tens of thousands of oxycodone pills and for continuing to deal drugs while under federal court supervision.  United States District Judge William K. Sessions III ordered Brown to serve a three-year term of supervised release after her prison term is completed.  Judge Sessions also ordered Brown to forfeit her drug proceeds, which include approximately $41,000 in cash seized from Brown and a handgun Brown used in furtherance of her drug distribution business.

According to court records, from 2011 until her first arrest on September 9, 2013, Brown sold thousands of oxycodone pills in the Barre area.  She obtained these pills from an out-of-state source.  Beginning about nine months prior to her 2013, arrest, Brown also sold hundreds of ounces of cocaine base, which she obtained from a separate out-of-state source.  When members of the Vermont Drug Task Force arrested Brown on September 9, 2013, they searched her person and her Barre residence.  In total, law enforcement seized approximately 800, 30 milligram oxycodone pills, over one ounce of cocaine base, commonly referred to as “crack” cocaine, over $41,000 in cash, and a .380 caliber handgun.  Brown subsequently admitted that she was a drug dealer and told police that she had obtained the handgun in exchange for crack.

Brown was charged in federal court and ordered released under court supervision pending the resolution of her case.  The Vermont Drug Task Force later learned that Brown continued to deal large quantities of oxycodone pills while under federal court supervision.  On January 14, 2014, the Vermont State Police stopped a vehicle traveling north on Interstate 91 which had Brown as a passenger.  Troopers found approximately 758 oxycodone pills on Brown’s person.  The male driver of the vehicle told police that Brown had promised him oxycodone pills in exchange for him driving Brown to Holyoke, Massachusetts to obtain a re-supply of oxycodone pills.  The man admitted that he had performed the same service for Brown approximately five times in the previous month-and-a-half.
After her January 14, 2014 arrest, Brown was detained pending resolution of her case.  On March 12, 2014, she pled guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute oxycodone, one count of conspiring to distribute cocaine base, and one count of committing an offense while on federal conditions of release. 

For the oxycodone and cocaine base conspiracy convictions, Brown faced a maximum of 20 years in prison on each of the two counts.  For committing a criminal offense while on federal pretrial release, which is a separate crime, Brown faced a maximum prison sentence of ten years.  Under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which are advisory, Brown’s recommended term of imprisonment was 151-188 months.   Pursuant to a written plea agreement, Brown agreed she was responsible for selling at least 20,000, 30 milligram oxycodone pills, for selling at least 328 grams of cocaine base, and for possessing a firearm while dealing drugs. 

At sentencing, the United States asked the court to sentence Brown to 82 months in prison.  The government argued that the quantity of drugs Brown dealt, that she was armed, and that continued to deal drugs on a large scale while under federal court supervision, all constituted significant aggravating factors.  The government also acknowledged a number of mitigating factors, including Brown’s relationship with her minor children, her lack of a lengthy criminal record, and her mental health issues.

Instead, Judge Sessions imposed a 48-month sentence.  In explaining his decision Judge Sessions cited, among other factors, Brown’s history of depression and alcoholism, as well as her difficult childhood.  Judge Sessions also emphasized the importance of Brown maintaining a relationship with her children.

United States Attorney Tristram J. Coffin commended the hard work of the Vermont State Police, the Vermont Drug Task Force, the Montpelier Police Department, and the Barre City Police Department.  The prosecutor is Assistant United States Attorney Timothy C. Doherty, Jr.  Brown is represented by Burlington defense attorney Mark Kaplan.

Updated June 22, 2015