For Immediate Release
Philadelphia Man Sentenced to 38 Months in Federal Prison for Gun and Drug Crimes in Barre
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, stated that on May 2, 2014, Gregory Johnson, 30, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 38 months in prison for his participation in cocaine base distribution and the possession of firearm. Chief United States District Judge Christina Reiss, sitting in Burlington, also ordered Johnson to serve a term of three years of supervised release following his prison sentence.
According to court records, in late 2010 and early 2011, Johnson and his Barre associates, including Terry Bahner, Bahner’s wife, Bethany Pastuszak, and Bahner’s stepfather, Lestly Westcott, trafficked cocaine base from Philadelphia to Barre, Vermont where they resold it to local customers. Johnson admitted to possessing a handgun during the conspiracy.
A federal grand jury in the District of Vermont returned an indictment against Johnson on September 6, 2012. Johnson was arrested in Philadelphia on December 19, 2012 on an unrelated outstanding warrant from Pennsylvania. Once his Pennsylvania case was resolved, Johnson was transferred to the District of Vermont and appeared for arraignment in federal court in Burlington on August 7, 2013. On January 13, 2014, Johnson pled guilty to conspiring to distribute cocaine base.
Pursuant to the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, Johnson faced between 46 and 57 months in prison. In determining the appropriate sentence, Judge Reiss considered, among other factors, the gravity of Johnson’s conduct and its negative impact on the community. Judge Reiss also considered Johnson’s lack of a significant criminal record.
Johnson is the sixth defendant to be sentenced in a series of related Barre cases. On January 5, 2012, Judge Reiss sentenced Bethany Pastuszak to four months of imprisonment and four months of home confinement, followed by a one-year term of supervised release, for making a false statement in connection with her purchase of a handgun.
On July 25, 2012, Judge Reiss sentenced James Beatrice, of Barre, to 33 months in federal prison, followed by a three-year term of supervised release, for illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.
On August 8, 2012, Judge Reiss sentenced Ronald Newton, from Philadelphia, to 160 months in federal prison for his role in a cocaine distribution conspiracy and his possession of a handgun in furtherance of that conspiracy. Newton was also ordered to serve 10 years of supervised release following his prison term.
On September 19, 2012, Judge Reiss sentenced Lestly Westcott to serve 30 months in federal prison, followed by a three-year term of supervised release, for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and distributing controlled substances.
On October 22, 2012, Judge Reiss sentenced Terry Bahner to serve 85 months in prison, followed by a three-year term of supervised release, for conspiring to distribute cocaine and illegally transferring a firearm.
United States Attorney Tristram J. Coffin commended the efforts of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, the Barre City Police Department, the Montpelier Police Department, the Vermont State Police, the U.S. Marshals, and the U.S. Border Patrol for their hard work and coordinated efforts on this investigation. The prosecutor is Assistant United States Attorney Timothy C. Doherty, Jr.
Johnson is represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Steven Barth. Newton is represented by Natasha Sen. Bahner is represented by Elizabeth Mann. Westcott is represented by Karen Shingler and Pastuszak is represented by Robert Sussman. James Beatrice is represented by David Williams.
United States Attorney Coffin noted that this prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhood, a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Project Safe Neighborhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who violate federal gun laws. For more information about Project Safe Neighborhood and Project Safe Vermont, please visit: www.psn.gov.