COURT WATCH: Judge Orders Prison Sentence Based on Concern Individual Will Repeat Crimes 

By Elena Fasullo 

BURLINGTON, VT – An accused previously found guilty by a jury trial for home improvement fraud was sentenced by Judge Kevin Griffin here Tuesday in Chittenden County Superior Court to a prison sentence of a minimum of 45 days and a maximum of up to 2 years.

The sentence was instituted despite the accused expressing remorse for the incident, and desire to pay back the victims in the case. Defense attorney Louise M. Koss argued the proposed sentence would lead the accused to take a longer time to earn and pay the restitutions.

The accused said they were dealing with personal and mental health issues at the time of the incident, which dates back to between 2019 and 2021.

But, Judge Griffin expressed concern the accused would repeat the crimes despite the accused not picking up cases since then and maintaining a steady job.

Deputy District Attorney Eliza Novick-Smith requested the accused be sentenced to one to three years in prison to “prioritize a punitive sanction.”

DDA Novick-Smith acknowledged the accused could not make enough money in jail to pay back restitution, but the accused currently has an “insufficient sanction.”

Vermont Department of Corrections Probation and Parole Officer Sean O’Connell testified the accused is currently on probation, requiring him to be in telephone contact with his probation officer at least once a month and that he has complied with these orders.

Defense attorney Koss stated the incidents occurred between 2019 and 2021. The accused explained that in this time period, personal issues caused him to take a medical leave from work and seek mental health counseling.

The accused is currently still in counseling and taking medication. Koss said since the prior incidents, the accused has not picked up additional cases and has a steady job to support a five-person household.

The accused stated that he does want to pay the money back to the victims and has been working on putting money aside, noting, “I’m not made of money. I can only do the best I can.”

Additionally, defense attorney Koss emphasized this was not a violent crime and there is a low risk of recurrence as the accused does not work with money in his industry as a condition of probation.

Defense attorney Koss stated in closing statement the proposed sentence by the state “would be a disservice to the victims” because it would take the accused more time for the accused to earn and pay the restitutions.

Judge Griffin sentenced the accused to a prison sentence of a minimum of 45 days and a maximum of up to two  years. Judge Griffin did not impose a fine as he stated that he wants the money going toward the restitutions.

Judge Griffin stated  the accused seemed to show remorse and “struck him as a good person,” but added concerns about making sure the accused does not do it again, with the need for additional punishment.

“A period of incarceration is necessary,” stated Judge Griffin.

About The Author

Elena Fasullo is a rising senior at the University of Vermont majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Philosophy. By joining the VanGuard Court Watch Program, Elena hopes to deepen her understanding of procedural areas of law and gain first-hand experience. Her passion for equity and environmental justice has led her to aspire to continue her education in law school. In her free time, Elena enjoys hiking, crocheting, taking care of her many plants, and going to the beach with friends. She is so excited to be an Intern for Vanguard this summer!

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