For Immediate Release
Three Vermonters Indicted for Conspiring to Barter Firearm for Drugs
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that a federal grand jury’s indictment was unsealed yesterday that charged Jennifer Griffin, Kenneth Stone, and Gregory Miller with conspiring to use an Armscor of the Philippines, model M1911-A1F .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(o). Griffin and Miller were arrested yesterday. Stone is currently in the custody of the Vermont Department of Corrections for other matters. Griffin and Miller appeared before United States Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy, and were ordered temporarily detained pending a detention hearing later this week.
According to court records, the investigation stemmed from the July 6, 2018 shooting of New York Police Department Detective Miguel Soto, who suffered a gunshot wound in the line of duty from an Armscor of the Philippines, model M1911-A1FS .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) quickly learned that the firearm had been purchased in Rutland, Vermont less than a year before the shooting. The ATF investigation in Rutland revealed that the firearm had been stolen from a friend of defendant Griffin’s (Henry Duval). Through various interviews, ATF agents developed probable cause to search the contents of defendant Griffin’s Facebook account, in which they located messages between Griffin and co-defendant Kenneth Stone discussing trading a firearm for narcotics, and a photograph of Duval’s stolen Armscor of the Philippines, model M1911-A1FS .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol which Griffin had sent to Stone. A search of defendant Stone’s Facebook account revealed messages with defendant Miller, in which the two discussed trading the firearm for narcotics.
If convicted, all three defendants face a maximum of twenty years of imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence however, would be determined by the Court with guidance from the advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charge in the complaint is merely an accusation, and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty.
United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan commended the investigative efforts of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). She stated: “this case highlights the worst that can happen when firearms are injected into the narcotics trade and placed in criminal hands. Combatting such crime will remain a central focus of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and we will continue to partner closely with ATF to combat violent crime in all its forms. Thanks to the ATF for its diligence and outstanding work in tracing the origins of the firearm that wounded a law enforcement officer in the line of duty. Vermonters involved in illegally acquiring guns for drug dealers and other dangerous criminals must understand that they will be held accountable. Far too often these guns are later recovered in crime scenes.”
Special Agent In Charge John B. Devito of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, New York Field Division, stated: “Preventing the illegal use and trafficking of firearms is a central focus of ATF's strategy to combat violent crime and protect our communities. The three individuals charged today are alleged to have conspired to trade an illegal firearm for narcotics. Illegal firearms often find themselves in the hands of bad actors producing bad results as they did in this case with the shooting of a New York City Police Department Detective. Thanks to the diligent work of the investigators and detectives of the ATF/NYPD Joint Firearms Task Force these individuals were brought to justice preventing another potential violent crime and or death. I would like to thank the United States Attorney's Office for their guidance and work prosecuting this case.”
The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ophardt. Defendant Griffin is represented by the Office of the Federal Public Defender. Defendant Miller is represented by Richard Goldsborough, Esq. Defendant Stone has not yet appeared on this matter.