For Immediate Release
Colchester Man Sentenced to 44 Months for Possessing Firearm as a Convicted Felon
Burlington, Vt. – The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont stated that on October 10, 2023, Dennis Martin, 42, of Colchester, Vermont, was sentenced to serve 44 months in prison for unlawfully possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. U.S. District Judge Christina Reiss also ordered Martin to serve a three-year term of supervised release.
Martin was convicted by a jury on February 9, 2023. The evidence at trial included a Snapchat video Martin sent to his mother-in-law on February 18, 2019, in which he brandished a firearm. According to trial testimony, Colchester Police, with the assistance of the Vermont State Police Tactical Services Unit, arrested Martin later in the day on February 18, 2019, from a vehicle near his Colchester residence. A search of the vehicle resulted in a seizure of a Ruger model LCP .380 caliber pistol with a laser sight. An analyst with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives testified that the firearm in the video appeared to be the same firearm from the Snapchat video and explained the similarities to the jury.
According to court records, on February 17, 2019, the day before Martin sent the Snapchat video, Martin’s then-wife reported ongoing domestic abuse perpetrated by Martin. Martin’s arrest on February 18, 2019, was for felony domestic assault and disorderly conduct with an electronic device based upon the Snapchat video. Martin was ultimately convicted for misdemeanor domestic assault and disorderly conduct by phone in Vermont Superior Court and sentenced to 363 to 364 days of jail.
The evidence at trial also showed that in 2015, Martin was convicted of a felony in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and sentenced to five years’ probation. According to court records, that felony was possession with the intent to distribute cocaine base. Martin testified at his Vermont federal trial that he did not know his prior conviction was a felony. Witnesses for the United States at trial included Martin’s probation officer and the prosecutor who prosecuted Martin in Pennsylvania, both of whom testified that Martin would have been made aware multiple times that his Pennsylvania conviction was for a felony. Evidence at trial also included paperwork Martin had signed that stated in multiple places that his offense was a felony.
At his sentencing on October 10, 2023, the Court found that Martin’s use of the firearm in the Snapchat video, in which he also made threatening statements, was conduct relevant to his unlawful firearm possession and constituted the federal felony of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce. The Court enhanced the sentence calculation accordingly under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. The Court also found that Martin obstructed justice by lying under oath at trial when he denied knowing his prior conviction was a felony and, as a result, applied an additional Sentencing Guidelines enhancement.
United States Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest commended the collaborative investigatory efforts of the ATF, the Colchester Police Department, and the Vermont State Police.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Ophardt, Corinne Smith and Wendy Fuller. Mr. Martin was represented by Michelle Anderson Barth, Esq.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results.