SHAFTSBURY — Two Vermont State Police troopers returned to work Monday — 17 weeks after they were placed on paid leave for their handling of an off-duty Rutland trooper found passed out behind the wheel of his car behind a Bennington store.
State Troopers Thomas Stange and Benjamin Irwin, both assigned to the Shaftsbury barracks, were placed on paid administrative leave on Oct. 29.
Meanwhile, State Police Lt. Michael “Stu” Studin, who also was placed on paid leave the same day, remains out of work.
“Troopers Irwin and Stange have been reinstated to full duty as of today. There is no change in status for Studin,” State Police spokesman Adam Silverman said in response to an email Monday seeking an update in the cases.
Silverman offered no additional comments. He said previously that the three lawmen were facing investigations by the VSP Internal Affairs Office, which has a special law that allows its cases withheld from any public review.
It remains unclear if Studin’s case is directly or indirectly connected to the Irwin/Stange investigation.
When state troopers are placed on administrative leave, the department takes their police cruiser, firearms, badge, credentials, computer and other department property so they are unable to perform any police work.
The Irwin/Stange case began to unfold when they stopped at Cumberland Farms on Northside Drive in Bennington at about 6:30 a.m. Oct. 28 for an unrelated investigation. The store clerk mentioned a man was passed out behind the wheel of his car behind the store, records show.
Officials said when Irwin and Stange checked the car they found rookie Trooper Spencer Foucher behind the wheel. Foucher, who grew up in Bennington, joined the state police Jan. 16, 2018, and was assigned to the Rutland barracks.
Foucher opted to resign on Oct. 29. A probationary trooper can be dismissed anytime in the first 12 months without a hearing or being given a reason.
Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage said based on the report provided by Vermont State Police there was not enough evidence to file any criminal charge.
“I reviewed the criminal case for potential charges and there is not going to be a charge out of my office,” Marthage said last fall. She said she believed there was a lack of sufficient evidence, and no alcohol breath test was requested.
Marthage said she asked for follow-up investigation, including information from the bar where Foucher was earlier, but that report did not generate enough evidence to proceed with a case.
Stange has been a state trooper since July 16, 2012, while Irwin was hired July 10, 2017.
Studin joined the Vermont State Police on July 14, 2003. He later became a senior trooper and was promoted to patrol sergeant at the Rockingham barracks on March 24, 2013. He was promoted to lieutenant and named station commander in Rutland County on Sept. 4, 2016.
Lt. Jeff Danowski, of the New Haven barracks, one of the department’s top station commanders, was shifted to Rutland to fill in while Studin is on paid leave. Sgt. Matthew Daley, of the New Haven barracks, is filling Danowski’s regular assignment.