DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Vermont

For Immediate Release

Monday, August 18, 2014
Tristram J. Coffin
, United States Attorney
Contact: Lauren B. Gebo

Bunthan Sam Sentenced to 10 Years’ Imprisonment for Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Bunthan Sam, 35, of Chicago, Illinois, was sentenced to 120 months in prison, having pled guilty to the charge of conspiracy to distribute at least 100 grams of heroin. United States District Judge William K. Sessions III, sitting in Burlington, also sentenced Sam to 4 years of supervised release.

Court records show that Sam, who went by the alias AAdam@ or ATaun,@ sold heroin in the Burlington area over a period of about two years. He obtained this heroin from suppliers in Chicago and Connecticut. Sam was arrested on the conspiracy charge in Chicago on July 24,2013, and incarcerated thereafter.

Court records further show that Sam is a member of a larger group with ties to Chicago; Lowell, Massachusetts; and Connecticut that distributed an especially strong form of heroin in the Burlington area from about mid-2011 through the time of the arrest of Sam=s brother, codefendant Chandara Sam, on April 10, 2013. Chandara Sam, who went by the alias APo,@ was taken into custody in White River Junction, after selling approximately 40 grams of heroin to an individual cooperating with law enforcement. Some of the heroin sold by the conspiracy was known as AChi town@ or AChi,@ short for Chicago, and has caused several overdoses in the last several years. The Vermont State Police Drug Task Force began an investigation into Sam=s heroin ring in December 2011.

In January 2013, members of the Essex Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration arrested two individuals, Edward Chavin, also known as ATommy,@ and Christopher Nason in the Handy=s Suites in Essex. Chavin was found in possession of more than 100 grams of heroin. He and Nason were subsequently indicted for conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, and both have pled guilty. The Handy=s Suites raid occurred following a heroin overdose in a nearby room. Investigation revealed that Chavin, Nason, and the Sams were part of the same heroin ring, and that Chavin had been transporting heroin from Chicago to the Burlington area for nearly a year prior to his arrest.

In early June 2014, one of conspiracy leaders, codefendant James Nastri, of Deep River, Connecticut, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute at least 100 grams of heroin following a jury trial before Judge Sessions in Burlington.

Court records further reveal that Bunthan Sam possessed handguns at various points during the Vermont heroin trafficking conspiracy. Sam also has a criminal history that includes numerous prior felony offenses, violent offenses, and several instances of unlawful weapons and firearms activity.

For his crime, Sam faced a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison. In sentencing Sam, Judge Sessions noted the devastating impact heroin has had on Vermont communities, citing specifically the potency of the heroin Sam sold. Judge Sessions further noted that Sam had continued to sell heroin after learning that a person had overdosed on the AChi-town@ heroin and after Lowell, Massachusetts police pulled him over and seized a firearm from his vehicle, resulting in a felony charge.

The investigation was a collaborative effort of the Vermont State Police Drug Task Force; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the Essex, Burlington, and South Burlington Vermont Police Departments; and the Lowell, Massachusetts Police Department.

Assistant United States Attorney Christina Nolan prosecuted the case. Sam is represented by Richard Goldsborough of Burlington.

Boston Field Division