Warrant alleges women sold sex for drugs in Bennington
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | February 02,2013
BENNINGTON — One of three warrants executed last month in an investigation that involved a local businessman was released Friday and describes an alleged ring of women in the Bennington area who acted as prostitutes, at times in exchange for drugs or money for drugs.
Local media requested the warrants, two of which were served against a prominent local businessman, be released last week. Judge Cortland Corsones ruled on Tuesday that the two warrants served against the home and business of Thomas Lyons, the owner of Bennington Subaru, would be sealed but he released the third warrant Friday.
Corsones did not explain why the other warrants would remain sealed in his order.
The warrant allowed for the search of a room rented by Jennifer Onorato, 31, at a hotel on Route 7 in Bennington. The warrant was redacted, which means that some information was not made public.
In an affidavit submitted in support of the warrant, Detective Anthony Silvestro, of the Bennington Police Department, said he had interviewed Kayla Foucher, 23, of Bennington, Sept. 24.
According to Silvestro, Foucher told him that Onorato, who Foucher said was a friend, offered to introduce her to a man named Jason Balsh.
The affidavit does not provide any identifying information about Balsh such as his age or his hometown.
In a separate affidavit, filed against Preston Foster, 50, of Bennington, in a drug case, Silvestro is cited as telling another officer about at least two women who he believed were involved in prostitution “which included … trading sex for drugs.”
Silvestro said he believed the women “may be connected to a website for escorts out of Troy, N.Y.,” that he believed was run by Balsh.
In the affidavit filed for the warrant, Silvestro said Foucher told him that when she contacted Balsh he asked her “if she ever thought about hooking.” According to the affidavit, Foucher said she was willing to do it and had Onorato send photos of her to Balsh.
Foucher told Silvestro that her photo would be sent to men who would decided if they wanted to “hook up.”
Silvestro said Foucher explained that she would agree that she was going to “go out” on a specific day. She would be told how to dress and gave information on exactly what she was wearing to Balsh.
Foucher said she would walk on School, Pleasant or Park streets and if a man drove by three times, he was her client. She would wave to him and he would stop so they could negotiate sexual acts, which would take place in a motel or a car.
According to the affidavit, Foucher told Silvestro about at least three other women who were involved in the same arrangement. In the affidavit released Friday, the last names of the women were blacked out.
However, those names, along with Balsh, were listed in a court order as people with whom Foster was not allowed to have contact. Foster has a pending felony charge of selling cocaine, a misdemeanor charge for possessing cocaine and a misdemeanor charge of prohibited acts for “procur(ing) a person for the purpose of prostitution.”
Foucher said she wasn’t allowed to keep a list of the men who solicited her for sexual acts.
Silvestro said he also accessed Balsh’s account on Facebook, a popular online social networking site. The staff of the site allowed Silvestro access for the purposes of the criminal investigation.
In the affidavit, Silvestro included what he said was an exchange between Balsh and Onorato about Foucher. The exchanges include questions about Foucher’s appearance and comments in which Balsh allegedly said he was “tryin (sic) to pimp her” and “need(s) to sell her.”
According to court papers, the only things taken when the search warrant was executed on Jan. 23 were a cellphone and a power cord.
Search warrants were executed at the home of Lyons and at the car dealership Jan. 21. The warrant released on Friday has no public information about Lyons or his involvement, if any, in the investigation.