Man with seven felony convictions faces new charge
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | July 23,2014
BENNINGTON — A local man is being held without bail after he was charged with his eighth felony, several of them drug related.
The latest charge against Casey A. Gras, 27, is also related to drugs, according to an affidavit written by Cpl. Andy Hunt, of the Bennington Police Department.
Hunt said Gras was arrested based on an allegation that he had illegal drugs May 29 and tried to flush them down the toilet before they could be seized by a Bennington County probation and parole officer.
Gras pleaded innocent Monday to a felony charge of attempted obstruction of justice and one misdemeanor charge each of possession of a narcotic drug and disorderly conduct for fighting. He is being held in the Newport jail because of an allegation that he violated the conditions of his probation.
In his affidavit, Hunt said he met with Gras’ probation officer, Beau Alexander, on May 29 at the Bennington County probation and parole office.
Alexander said Gras had been brought to the office because he was suspected of using drugs, which violated the conditions of his probation.
Before Gras could give a urine sample, Alexander saw a piece of pink paper in Gras’ shoe. He told Hunt that when he asked Gras about the paper, Gras tried to flush it down the toilet but the paper dropped to the floor instead.
Alexander said he told Gras to face the wall but said Gras “took a fighting stance, clenching his fists” instead. Alexander said Gras had to be told multiple times and threatened with pepper-spray before he complied with requests to be calm.
Alexander told Hunt that Gras became upset again when told police were on their way to the office to arrest him. Hunt said Alexander told him that Gras began yelling and said the probation officer should just take him to jail.
Hunt said he identified what was inside the pink paper as suboxone. He said Alexander told him that Gras had admitted he didn’t have a prescription for suboxone.
Gras’ previous felony convictions in Vermont are for two counts of burglary and two counts of selling cocaine from 2005; one count of unlawful mischief resulting in more than $1,000 damage from 2011; one count of selling drugs from 2013; and one count of embezzlement from earlier this year.
Attorney Frederick Bragdon, who represented Gras on Monday, asked that his client be released from custody and said there might be a challenge to the accusation that Gras was trying to obstruct justice. He said there was only one “failure to appear” charge on Gras’ record.
Bennington County Deputy State’s Attorney Robert Plunkett argued that Gras had a significant record and could be charged as a habitual offender, a sentencing enhancement which could result in Gras being sentenced to life in prison.
While Judge Nancy Corsones did not hold Gras without bail on the new charge, he is being held in prison because his furlough was revoked on the embezzlement charge.