A Rutland man who might be a suspect in six armed robberies in Rutland and Addison counties over the summer will continue to be held in prison after a request to allow him to be placed on home confinement was rejected on Tuesday.
Joey M. Sherwood, 31, was arraigned last month in the U.S. District Court of Vermont in Burlington on a felony charge of obstructing commerce by robbery. Sherwood, who pleaded not guilty to the charge, was accused of robbing the Cumberland Farm Store in Wallingford at knifepoint on Aug. 1.
Jeffrey Stephenson, an FBI Task Force member assigned to Vermont since 2017, said Sherwood matches descriptions given to law-enforcement officers after armed robberies at Mac’s Convenience Store in Rutland on July 5 and July 16; the Maplefields Mobil in Pittsford on Aug. 1; and the Shoreham Service Station and the Union Street Grocery in Brandon, both on Aug. 21.
All of the robberies were committed by a man wielding a knife although Stephenson’s affidavit said Sherwood only allegedly admitted to the Wallingford robbery.
On Sept. 3, Magistrate Judge Kevin Doyle ruled Sherwood would be a possible danger to the community and ordered that he be held in jail while the case is pending.
In a motion dated Sept. 30, Sarah Puls, an assistant federal public defender who represents Sherwood, asked that Sherwood be released on “conditions of intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment.”
Puls proposed Sherwood live in Rutland with a man whose daughter is in a relationship with Sherwood. The motion said Sherwood and the woman have been together for 11 years and are expecting a child in December.
Sherwood would be treated as an outpatient at Evergreen Substance Abuse Services in Rutland. The motion said Sherwood had already been screened for acceptance at Evergreen and has agreed to inpatient treatment if Evergreen staff recommended it was needed.
Puls said Sherwood would also accept home detention and electronic monitoring.
Noting the public safety issue, Puls said Sherwood had a “relatively minor criminal history” until early 2020. However, she wrote, his alleged criminal behavior “relates to an increase in substance abuse” for which he is hoping to be treated.
“As the pre-trial services report notes, Mr. Sherwood was not previously engaged in substance abuse treatment, nor has he ever engaged in any substance abuse treatment. An (intensive outpatient treatment) program would help him deal with his underlying substance abuse issues which directly led to the conduct for which he is criminally charged. This would assure public safety,” Puls said.
According to Puls, Sherwood is not a risk for missing future court appearances because he has “substantial ties to the community,” has a place to live and has no outstanding warrants.
She said Sherwood’s proposed plan for substance abuse was a “material change in circumstance” which warranted the court revisiting his request to be released under court-ordered conditions as his case is pending.
The request was opposed in a motion filed by Kimberly Ang, an assistant United States Attorney for Vermont.
Ang cited other crimes for which charges are pending against Sherwood and alleged he has also abused heroin and cocaine.
“Detention was ordered in this case based on significantly more than Sherwood’s issues with substance abuse. Sherwood has a history of engaging in crimes that endanger the community despite being on pretrial conditions of release, indicating that Sherwood is both a risk of nonappearance and a danger to the community,” Ang wrote.
According to Ang’s response to Puls’ motion, Sherwood was arraigned in New Hampshire in February 2020 of attempted felonious sexual assault and in Vermont in December 2020 for burglary and eluding police. Ang said the latter charges involved leading police on a high-speed car chase that reached speeds of up to 100 mph and that only stopped when police deployed road spikes that flattened the tires of the vehicle Sherwood was allegedly driving.
He was charged in March with aiding in the commission of a felony and the pending felony charges, Ang pointed out, was allegedly committed when he robbed the Wallingford store while charges were pending in the three other cases.
Ang also argued that Sherwood had admitted his relationship with his girlfriend’s father was “not great” and added that Sherwood had only been living with his girlfriend and her father for three weeks before his arrest on the federal charges.
“The government has strong reservations about the stability of this proposed living arrangement,” Ang said.
Doyle rejected Sherwood’s request on Tuesday although no written decision was posted explaining his decision.
If convicted, Sherwood could be sentenced to up to 20 years in jail.