BARRE — A Barre Town man who has run unsuccessfully for the Vermont Senate as a Republican in the past three elections has picked up criminal charges alleging he beat up a man he used to work with and broke bones in his face during an incident over owed property.
Dwayne M. Tucker, 47, pleaded not guilty by video Tuesday in Washington County criminal court in Barre to a felony count of aggravated assault and misdemeanor counts of aggravated disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment.
If convicted, Tucker faces a maximum sentence of 16 years and six months in prison. He was released on conditions including not to contact the victim nor engage in violent, threatening or tumultuous behavior.
Officer Michael Reale, of the Barre City police, said in his affidavit on Jan. 11 Tucker called police to report he had been involved in a physical altercation with a former employee. Tucker, a contractor and consulting engineer, disputes this. He said in an email Tuesday at no time was the man an employee of his nor did the man work for him.
Reale said he met with Tucker, who reported he was supposed to exchange property with the victim. He said Tucker reported at that time that the victim had worked for his residential contracting business in the past.
The officer said Tucker reported the victim had issues with alcohol and drugs, so Tucker wanted to help him out and allowed the victim to live with him for about six weeks.
Tucker reported the victim had become confrontational and accused Tucker of owing him money, according to court records.
After the victim moved out, Tucker told Reale the pair had some of each other’s tools. He said Tucker reported he had contacted police in Barre Town to try and set up a property swap with law enforcement present in the event the victim became violent but was told to do the swap in a neutral location because it appeared this was a civil matter, not one where police were needed.
Reale said Tucker reported he and the victim met in his truck outside of Basil’s Pizzeria & Restaurant on South Main Street. Tucker reported the victim started hitting the dash of his truck and threatening him, so Tucker drove to the parking lot at nearby Aubuchon Hardware, according to court records. Reale said Tucker reported he and the victim got out of the truck, the victim took a swing at him, so he hit the victim in the face in self-defense. The officer said Tucker reported he hit the victim once.
Reale said he asked Tucker about the threat from the victim and was told the victim had threatened to sue Tucker.
The officer said while speaking with Tucker, he was told by dispatch someone had called police because the victim had been “beaten up pretty bad.” He said the caller reported the victim’s face was bloody, and he may need stitches.
Reale said Tucker’s wife, Caitlin Janus, was in the truck during this incident. Janus ran unsuccessfully for town clerk in Barre Town in 2021. The officer said she reported she did not hear or see anything during the incident and was using her cellphone at the time.
Reale said he was told by another officer that the victim was being taken to Central Vermont Medical Center for treatment of his injuries because his eyes had swollen shut and he had a large amount of blood on him. The officer said he asked to see Tucker’s knuckles and Tucker held out his hands. He said Tucker pointed out what appeared to be a small amount of blood on his left pinky finger and reported he was a southpaw, meaning his left hand is dominant when he boxes. Reale said Tucker reported he used to box and had abnormally large knuckles both from boxing and from contracting work.
Reale said he also observed what appeared to be blood splatter on Tucker’s right shoe and police found what appeared to be patches of blood in the parking lot.
He said Tucker was asked again how many times he hit the victim and Tucker admitted he struck the victim a few times. When told the victim was being taken to the hospital, Reale said Tucker responded, “Things got out of hand,” and “I just lost it.” He said Tucker was told investigators found it hard to believe that a few punches from Tucker would have caused that much damage to the victim and Tucker responded his punches were “well-placed.”
Reale said the victim was bleeding from the back of his head and had a scrape on his lower back. He said he obtained a release for the victim’s medical records and had yet to obtain those records but was told the victim had suffered broken bones in his face. He said the victim’s discharge paperwork from the hospital noted he should eat a soft diet, “for patients with facial fracture injuries.”
Reale said Tucker then obtained a no-stalking order against the victim because the victim was texting him about the victim’s property. He said police served the victim with the order.
He said the victim reported he had been taken to University of Vermont Medical Center to see a specialist about his eyes because he had suffered fractures to his orbital bone and nose.
The officer said the victim reported he had since remembered more details about the assault. He said the victim reported he told Tucker he didn’t want to fight in the parking lot and started to walk away. The victim reported Tucker then grabbed him from behind with his arm around the victim’s neck and the victim lost consciousness, according to court records. Reale said the victim reported Tucker must have hit him after he went unconscious. The officer said the victim reported Tucker must have then dragged him away from the truck, which caused the scrape on his back.
Reale said a member of the victim’s family had been in contact with Tucker before and after the assault. He said she provided police with screenshots of text messages between Tucker and herself. In the messages, Reale said following the assault, Tucker was asked by the family member what Tucker had done and he responded, “Went to give his tools, and he assaulted me.” He said Tucker wrote in the text messages that the victim had threatened Tucker and Janus. Tucker told investigators there were a couple people in hooded sweatshirts with the victim at the time of the incident, though the victim disputes this and told police he was alone. Reale said Tucker told the family member in the text messages those the victim was with must have assaulted him to cause those injuries.
Reale said he tried to again interview Tucker, but Tucker reported he had since spoken to a lawyer and did not want to talk to investigators without the lawyer present.
Tucker is being represented by attorney Brooks McArthur. McArthur said in a statement Wednesday, “Mr. Tucker strongly denies causing the injuries alleged to (the victim). Mr. Tucker has a long history of positive community involvement and helping the less fortunate. Mr. Tucker is not a violent person. Mr. Tucker has pled not-guilty to the charges, and we intend to aggressively defend Mr. Tucker in this case.”
Tucker has run unsuccessfully for one of the three Vermont Senate seats in Washington County in the past three elections after securing the Republican nomination in those elections. He finished in fifth place during the election in November.