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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 7, 2021

Chittenden County Man Charged as a Drug User in Possession of a Firearm

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Aaron Loucks, 27, of Burlington, Vermont, appeared today in court on charges that in December 2020, he possessed a firearm while being a user of controlled substances. Loucks appeared in person for the initial appearance before the Hon. John M. Conroy, U.S. Magistrate Judge, and was detained pending further proceedings in the case. 

According to the complaint filed on Monday, Loucks has struggled with psychological and drug addiction issues since high school. In early December 2020, Loucks was charged by state authorities with smashing the windows of a Church Street storefront with a hammer. On December 16, 2020, Shelburne Police found Loucks in possession of a firearm. Since that incident, local police departments have received reports that Loucks was concerned about governmental actions involving COVID-19 vaccination efforts, and that he had purchased additional firearms to “protect” himself and his family. Loucks did not contest detention at this time. The Court delayed ruling on a motion for a mental health evaluation. 

U.S. Attorney Nolan thanked concerned members of the community for bringing Loucks’ psychological struggles to the attention of authorities, and credited law enforcement, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Burlington Police and Shelburne Police for speedily taking steps to ensure Loucks would not be able to harm anyone. She also thanked the Vermont State Police for assisting in the federal arrest of Loucks. U.S. Attorney Nolan stated: “The mix of psychological struggles, drug use, and firearms is a particularly dangerous cocktail.  We will continue to use federal gun laws where appropriate to ensure the safety of Vermonters.  Although law enforcement interventions may be only a part of the overall approach where a defendant has mental health challenges, we will bring charges when necessary to promote the paramount interest in the protection of public safety.”

Kelly D. Brady, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF, Boston Field Division, joined in Nolan’s praise of law enforcement’s work in this case. He stated, “ATF will continue to work with its federal, state, and local law enforcement counterparts, in addition to our prosecutorial partners at the United States Attorney’s Office, especially when there is a credible threat to public safety involving the unlawful possession of a firearm.” 

If convicted of the charged offense, Loucks could face up to ten years in prison along with a period of federal supervised release that could include requirements for mental health and substance abuse treatment. Any sentence will be formulated through consultation of the United States Sentencing Guidelines and consideration of Loucks’s personal history and characteristics. 

This prosecution is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws.  Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting firearm use and possession crimes; prioritizes prosecuting persons who make false statements when attempting to obtain firearms; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concerning persons who attempt to obtain firearms illegally; coordinates responses to persons prevented from obtaining firearms for mental health reasons; and ensures the use of modern intelligence tools and technology to focus on the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.  

AUSA Eugenia A. P. Cowles appeared for the government. Assistant Federal Public Defender Elizabeth Quinn appeared for Loucks.

Topic(s): 
Project Guardian
Firearms Offenses
Component(s): 
Updated January 7, 2021