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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 23, 2020

Rutland Man Sentenced to 72 Months’ Imprisonment for Heroin and Cocaine Base Trafficking and Conspiring to Unlawfully Possess Firearms

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Terrance Chipp, 42, of Rutland was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Geoffrey Crawford to 72 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release, which follows the term of imprisonment.

Chipp previously pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine base, and conspiracy to unlawfully possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. These offenses each carried a maximum of up to twenty years imprisonment. 

U.S. Attorney Nolan stated that “the possession of firearms to protect drug trafficking activities greatly amplifies the already grave risk of harm to the community caused by heroin and crack cocaine distribution. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute drug trafficking crimes involving firearms, working with our partners to deploy the necessary resources to the many hard-hit areas of southern Vermont.”

According to court records, on May 6, 2019, law enforcement executed a state search warrant at Chipp’s residence on Plain Street in Rutland. Inside a safe located in Chipp’s bedroom, law enforcement found about eight grams of heroin, two grams of cocaine base, a SCCY 9 mm pistol, and a loaded magazine.  Inside Chipp’s dresser drawer, law enforcement found a Smith & Wesson .40 caliber pistol. Chipp intended to sell the seized controlled substances. In his plea agreement, Chipp admitted that he also traded drugs to another person for about 500 rounds of ammunition and that he “possessed firearms, in part, to protect his drug trafficking operations.” 

The government argued in its sentencing memorandum that a long sentence was warranted because Chipp had begun trafficking drugs within a year after having served a three-year state sentence for heroin trafficking: “Three years of imprisonment did little to deter the defendant last time. This time, a sentence of substantially more than that is justified to protect the Rutland community from the defendant. . . . Specific deterrence and protecting the safety of the community are thus compelling factors here. The defendant’s high risk of recidivism is not theoretical but based on his long and frequent criminal history.”

U.S. Attorney Nolan 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.prb .  

This matter was investigated by the Vermont State Police Drug Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and the Rutland City Police Department. This case was prosecuted on behalf of the government by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Perella. Chipp is represented by Federal Public Defender David McColgin of Burlington.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Opioids
Firearms Offenses
Component(s): 
Updated July 23, 2020