BURLINGTON — A Rutland woman will remain in prison pending trial in Vermont in connection with a stolen firearm later used in the shooting of a New York City Police detective last summer, but a co-defendant was released on strict conditions Wednesday.
Jennifer R. Griffin, 44, remains a danger to the community, Federal Magistrate John M. Conroy ruled following a detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Burlington.
“She needs a high level of treatment. She is not ready to be released,” Conroy said after hearing arguments from the prosecution and defense.
In a separate hearing Conroy ruled Gregory R. Miller, 33, who had left Rutland and has been living recently in a sober house in Burlington, can be released. Defense lawyer Richard Goldsborough presented arguments and testimony that his client has been turning his life around.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has petitioned a federal judge to issue an order to Vermont officials to allow access to a third defendant, who is held on state criminal charges.
Prosecutors want Kenneth Stone, 29, released briefly from the Marble Valley Correctional Center in Rutland into the custody of federal marshals so he can be brought to Burlington for arraignment.
If convicted, all three federal defendants face up to 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
Griffin and Miller have pleaded not guilty to conspiring with Stone and “others, known and unknown to the grand jury” to use an Armscor of the Philippines .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol in connection with a drug trafficking crime.
The gun was stolen from a friend of Griffin, Henry Duval, 69, formerly of Plain Street in Rutland, and the firearm was later traded for drugs, officials said. They said Duval had bought the gun less than a year earlier.
The handgun was used by a fleeing felon to wound New York Police Detective Miguel Soto as he and a partner tried to execute a domestic violence arrest warrant in Brooklyn on July 6, 2018, officials said. Soto is an eight-year veteran and the winner of departmental awards, including the Medal for Valor in 2013, the NYPD said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Lasher said in court Wednesday that Griffin has a long history of substance abuse and was looking to trade the stolen gun for heroin or money to feed her habit.
Assistant Federal Public Defender Barclay Johnson said Griffin should be released and be allowed to continue her treatment on the outside. He said Griffin has a home and a support system. Johnson said she also was willing to live with her daughter.
Conroy said he would consider releasing Griffin, who had tested positive for cocaine when she was arrested on Monday, but he needed to see a serious residential drug treatment plan.
He also noted the case was a “very serious offense” and there appeared to be compelling evidence including pictures. He said he was concerned about her substantial abuse problems and failure to show up for appointments.
Later during Miller’s hearing, Goldsborough presented a witness from First Step Recovery House to discuss the progress the defendant has made.
Brian Cross of First Step testified that Miller has been active in the treatment programs offered at the sober home at 1056 North Ave. in Burlington since arriving in October 2018.
Cross said Miller worked his way up to be vice president of the house and he would be welcomed back if released.
“Greg is motivated,” Cross said.
Lasher tried to say that Miller was both a risk to flee and a danger and noted the intimidation or threats made to a potential witness.
Lasher introduced a series of text messages and pictures that were exchanged by Miller, Stone and others to set up a possible beating on an inmate that was thought to have talked with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after agents traced the gun in the New York City shooting to Rutland. Also, there was news coverage of the officer being shot and the suspect arrested.
The government did obtain from Facebook messages between Griffin and Stone discussing trading a firearm for drugs, and a photograph of Duval’s stolen gun sent by Griffin to Stone.
Conroy said he would allow Miller’s release, but also told the defendant there were serious consequences if he violated the conditions of release or committed a new crime.
The New York shooter was identified as Kelvin Stichel, 33, who was wanted for domestic robbery involving a firearm against his wife, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said.