BURLINGTON — Two Rutland residents are in federal custody after being indicted in Vermont in connection with a stolen firearm later used in the shooting of a highly decorated New York City Police detective, court records show.
Jennifer R. Griffin, 44, and Gregory R. Miller, 33, both had pleas of not guilty entered on their behalf during their arraignments in U.S. District Court in Burlington late Monday afternoon.
Also named in the indictment was Kenneth Stone, but no other information was provided in the public record. Attempts to reach a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office were unsuccessful.
The federal grand jury indicted the three defendants for conspiring with each other and with “others, known and unknown to the grand jury” to use a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol during a drug trafficking crime.
Federal Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy ordered Griffin and Miller jailed until Wednesday, when a detention hearing can be held. The U.S. Attorney’s Office wants both held, citing their danger to the community, but the Pre-Trial Services Office did not have enough time to complete an investigation.
Griffin, who was picked up in Rutland, appeared in court wearing a hot pink hoodie with the words “Good Vibes” printed on the front. Conroy noted Griffin has an extensive criminal record, and she tested positive for cocaine on Monday.
Miller was arrested in Burlington. He told the court he has been living there recently while working on a roofing project. Miller has a substantial addiction to opiates and crack cocaine, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan A. Ophardt said in a motion seeking the defendant’s detention.
“The nature and circumstances of the offense charged are exceedingly serious, and the evidence against the defendant quite strong,” Ophardt said.
He noted the federal crime “appears to have occurred while defendant Miller was pending trial for grand larceny and possession of stolen property.” Miller is due for sentencing in state court in Rutland on April 25, officials said.
The Rutland gun was used to shoot New York City Police Detective Miguel Soto in the line of duty on July 6, 2018, court records show. Soto is an eight-year veteran and the winner of departmental awards, including the Medal for Valor in 2013, the New York Police Department said. He was 33 years old at the time of the shooting.
Last July, the NYC detective and his partner were in Brooklyn serving a domestic violence warrant when Soto was shot in the leg by an ex-con with a long rap sheet, the New York Post reported. Police returned fire and apparently wounded the gunman, the Post said. Officers used the trail of blood to locate the fleeing suspect.
Investigation by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined the .45-caliber semi-automatic was purchased in Rutland less than a year before the shooting, court papers show.
Rutland City Police said investigation showed the gun theft was among several larcenies reported by Henry Duval, 69, formerly of Plain Street. Police said Duval was the frequent victim of crimes, including thefts by people visiting him.
Duval is a friend of the Griffin family, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a motion seeking detention.
Investigation revealed Facebook messages between Miller and Stone discussed trading a firearm for narcotics, Ophardt wrote. He said Stone sent a photograph of the stolen pistol to Miller.
Federal agents also found in Miller’s Facebook account attempts “to arrange violent retribution on a state inmate who had spoken to ATF agents about Duval’s stolen firearm,” Ophardt wrote.
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 told the New York Post at the time.
The suspect fired six rounds with a .45-caliber handgun, police said. Officers recovered the gun from a garbage can, where it was tossed during the exchange.