For Immediate Release
Mother and Son Sentenced for Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Donna Mahar, 61, of Danvers, Massachusetts, was sentenced today for conspiracy to obstruct justice. District Judge Christina Reiss ordered defendant Mahar to a time-served (one day) incarcerative sentence, a six-month term of home detention, a 3-year term of supervised release, and a $10,000 fine. Mahar’s son, Derek Spilman, 45, of Winooski, Vermont, was sentenced December 16, 2019 to a 29-month term of incarceration for his convictions stemming from a conspiracy to distribute marijuana, his unlawful possession of firearms, and the conspiracy to obstruct justice. As part of his plea agreement, defendant Spilman agreed to the entry of a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $50,000, half of which Spilman had paid prior to his sentencing hearing.
According to Court records, in the late summer of 2018, defendant Spilman began distributing marijuana and THC-infused edibles from his Church Street business, “Goodtimes Gallery.” In December of 2018, following complaints from the community, Spilman’s marijuana inventory was confiscated by an investigator with the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery. Defendant Spilman continued to sell marijuana from the business. As a result, the Burlington Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted a joint investigation that included controlled purchases of marijuana from Spilman’s business. On January 29, 2019, law enforcement executed a federal search warrant at the business, during which agents seized approximately $11,000 of drug proceeds, a half kilogram of marijuana, a Ruger 9mm handgun, and ammunition. Additional investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) revealed that Spilman also had possessed a Panther AR rifle, a Smith & Wesson .40 caliber pistol, and a Ruger .22 caliber rifle.
After his arrest, defendant Spilman vandalized the storefront of another Church Street business, which was owned by a government witness. The vandalism resulted in the government filing a motion to revoke defendant Spilman’s pretrial release. Prior to the revocation hearing, defendants Spilman and Mahar attempted to pressure a friend of Spilman’s to obstruct the proceeding. When those efforts failed, defendants Spilman and Mahar enlisted a family member in the scheme. Defendant Mahar cut the man’s hair to better match Spilman’s; defendant Spilman gave the man funds to purchase a jacket to match the one that Spilman wore during the vandalism; and defendant Spilman coached the man on what to say to defense investigators. During the revocation hearing before a United States Magistrate Judge, the man committed perjury in furtherance of the conspiracy to obstruct justice, falsely claiming responsibility for the vandalism. Subsequent investigation by the DEA confirmed the perjury, and that defendants Mahar and Spilman had procured the perjury. The investigation also revealed that after the unlawful interference with the revocation hearing, defendant Spilman continued to distribute marijuana while on court-ordered location monitoring.
United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan commended the investigative efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Burlington Police Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives; and the Department of Liquor and Lottery Office of Compliance and Enforcement, in the successful arrests and prosecution of defendants Spilman and Mahar.
Defendant Mahar was represented by Frank J. Twarog, Esq. Defendant Spilman was represented by Lisa Shelkrot, Esq. The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan A. Ophardt.