Mark E. Russel

Mark E. Russell

A Duxbury man who lived at a home on Vermont Route 100 where officials say a young woman received a fatal drug overdose in 2017 was arrested recently in Waterbury Center on new drug charges.

Mark E. Russell, 63, is due in Vermont Superior Court in Barre on Dec. 2 to face two new state charges of felony possession of a controlled substance and driving under the influence of drugs-second offense.

According to state police, Trooper Paul Pennoyer pulled over Russell on Kneeland Flats Road in Waterbury Center at about 1:23 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13, after witnessing a motor vehicle violation. While speaking with Russell, Pennoyer detected indicators of impairment, police said.

After Russell was taken into custody on the DUI-second offense charge, Pennoyer reportedly found 380 Oxycodone pills – a felony amount – on him and in his vehicle, police said.

Pennoyer transported Russell to the state police barracks in Middlesex without incident where he was processed and released with a citation ordering him into criminal court.

Russell has an earlier driving under the influence conviction from 1995, police said.

As of Monday morning, the status of his earlier federal case was unclear given his recent arrest. Among the mandatory conditions imposed in his federal court case were: that Russell must not commit another federal, state, or local crime; he must not unlawfully possess a controlled substance; and he must refrain from any unlawful use of a controlled substance.

Russell, also known as “Snake” in earlier court records, pleaded guilty in November 2018 to operating a drug house at 3810 Vermont Route 100 in Duxbury and allowing multiple persons to sell drugs there, primarily crack cocaine. Russell admitted to allowing an out-of-state dealer to use the house in exchange for user-quantity pieces of crack, according to court records in that case.

Senior Judge William K. Sessions III placed him on supervised release for three years in April 2019 as part of a plea bargain. In sentencing Russell, Sessions expressed skepticism of the plea agreement but allowed it to go forward. He warned Russell that he would be back in federal court if he used drugs again. “You have been drug-free,” Sessions told Russell at the sentencing.

It was reported at the time that Russell’s criminal record included five felony convictions, which were considered old. He also had three prior instances where he failed to appear at court proceedings.

A federal grand jury indicted Russell in April 2018 and he was detained initially because he was deemed to be a danger to the community by Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy. “The defendant has a significant criminal record and a serious drug addiction,” a prosecutor wrote in seeking detention. He was later released to attend Valley Vista, a drug rehabilitation center in Bradford.

Russell was charged under what is known as the federal “Crack House Statute,” but it is not restricted to incidents involving crack cocaine. The law provides for unlawfully storing, distributing, manufacturing and using controlled substances at a residence.

A federal prosecutor said there was no evidence that Russell provided the drugs to a young woman who died of an overdose at his home in November 2017. Lily Kendall McCausland, 27, of Warren, died on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, one day after she was stricken at the Russell home, public records show. The location is described as a “friend’s residence” on the death certificate.

McCausland died from “acute intoxication by the combined effects of Morphine, Fentanyl and Acetyl Fentanyl,” according to Dr. Kristin Roman of the chief medical examiner’s office.

Nobody has ever been charged in connection with McCausland’s death. She had worked in the food and ski industries after attending Harwood Union High School where she participated in cross country, track and tennis, according to her obituary.

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