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Press Release

Proprietors of Ridin’ High Skate Shop Indicted for Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and THC

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Vermont

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that John Van Hazinga and Samantha Steady were arraigned today in federal court after having been indicted by the grand jury for conspiracy to distribute marijuana and delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), both Schedule I drugs, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846.  Van Hazinga was also charged with multiple counts of distribution of marijuana and THC.   Van Hazinga and Steady were both arrested this morning, and were arraigned before the United States Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy this afternoon in Burlington.  Defendant Steady was released on conditions.  Van Hazinga was ordered detained pending a detention hearing which will be held next week.

According to court records, Van Hazinga and Steady own and manage the business Ridin’ High, located at the corner of Pearl and Battery Streets in Burlington, Vermont.  An investigation began after witnesses reported that individuals at Ridin’ High had sold marijuana to teenagers.  Further, during the course of the investigation, Burlington Police Officers responded to Ridin’ High for multiple reports of disturbances, including altercations and violence associated with the sale of marijuana at the business.  On multiple occasions over the course of the conspiracy, Van Hazinga sold marijuana over-the-counter to an undercover officer.  The investigation also revealed that Steady manufactured THC-infused edible products, which were also sold at the business.  This summer, law enforcement discovered that Van Hazinga and Steady were growing marijuana at their residence in Underhill, Vermont, and linked the couple to a rural camp in Keene, New York.  On July 24, 2019, federal search warrants were obtained for the Ridin’ High business, the Underhill residence, the camp in Keene, New York, and an email address that Steady utilized for taking orders of THC-infused edible products.  The premises search warrants were executed on August 6, 2019, and resulted in the seizure of more than 50 marijuana plants, over 5 kilograms of marijuana, numerous edibles suspected of being infused with THC, and approximately $67,000 of United States Currency. 

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of twenty years of imprisonment on the conspiracy charge.  The actual sentence however, would be determined by the Court with guidance from the advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines.  The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charge in the complaint is merely an accusation, and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty.

United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan commended the investigative efforts of the Burlington Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  She stated:  “Through this collaboration by federal and local law enforcement, we once again send the message that open and notorious trafficking of marijuana will not be tolerated.  Those who deal this drug and have prior criminal records, those who deal it to children or in their presence, those who engage in violence while dealing it, those who deal it for high profit, and those who deal it in areas of high commercial foot-traffic should expect to receive heightened attention from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.” 

The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ophardt.  Defendant Van Hazinga is represented by Paul Volk, Esq.  Defendant Steady is represented by Timothy Fair, Esq.

Updated August 22, 2019

Drug Trafficking