Vermont Business Magazine The controversial dismissal of charges against three individuals alleged to have committed violent crimes has taken another turn. The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced today that Veronica Lewis was charged yesterday by Criminal Complaint in US District Court with unlawfully possessing a firearm after having been adjudicated as mentally defective, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4), and possessing a stolen firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(j).
Lewis was arrested this morning, and will appear today in federal court in Burlington.
She previously had been charged with the non-fatal shooting of her firearms instructor. According to court records, Lewis had been adjudicated as mentally defective on October 16, 2013, in the Queens County (New York) Criminal Court, due to a judicial finding of mental incapacity.
This prior judicial finding precluded Lewis from thereafter lawfully possessing firearms and ammunition under federal law.
On June 29, 2015, Lewis allegedly used a Smith & Wesson Model K-22 .22 caliber revolver to shoot firearms instructor Darryl Montague in Westford, Vermont. After the shooting, Lewis fled, taking Montague’s firearm and ammunition with her.
Later that day, Lewis was arrested and Montague’s firearm was seized from Lewis’s backpack. She was also observed attempting to hide .22 caliber ammunition in a toilet paper roll in her holding cell.
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum of ten years of imprisonment on each count. 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 charges in the complaint are merely accusations, and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until she is proven guilty.
State's attorney Sarah George had decided at the end of May not to prosecute Lewis and two others, who were charged with first degree murder because, they were diagnosed as legally insane. George said at the time that the prosecution would not be able to overcome the insanity defense and the three were turned over to the Department of Mental Health.
The dismissals drew immediate criticism including from Governor Phil Scott who asked Attorney General TJ Donovan to review the matter, essentially going over the state's attorney's head.
Aita Gurung was arrested for allegedly killing his wife with a meat clever and injuring his mother-in-law in Burlington and charged with first degree murder and attempted first degree murder in October 2017. Louis Fortier was arrested for first degree murder after allegedly stabbing a man to death on Church Street in Burlington in March 2017, in what was described as a random act. And Veronica Lewis was charged with attempted first degree murder in June 2015 for allegedly shooting her firearms instructor, who survived the attack.
Because the three became the responsibility of the DMH and therefore of the health care system, their status, including their treatment and whereabouts, was private.
In a statement, United States Attorney Christina Nolan commended the investigative efforts of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Vermont State Police (VSP).
The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ophardt. Defendant Lewis is represented by the Office of the Federal Public Defender.
Source: United States Attorney 6.12.2019