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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cop Accused of Stealing TV

Barre police officer denies stealing neighbor's TV
The Burlington Free Press by Matt Ryan - January 3, 2011

BARRE, VT — Prosecutors have charged an off-duty Barre police officer with stealing his neighbor’s TV from under her Christmas tree and, when confronted by law enforcement, tossing it into the Winooski River. Patrol Officer Zak Winston, 34, who works in Barre and lives in Montpelier, denied the accusation during his arraignment Monday in Vermont Superior Court in Barre. “Well, Your Honor, I can tell you I’m not guilty,” said Winston, who represented himself during the five-minute hearing. Barre City Police Chief Timothy Bombardier said Monday that Winston has been suspended with pay pending an internal investigation. Winston has worked for the department for about 2½ years, Bombardier said. He would not comment further on the charges Winston is facing. “From our end, it’s a personnel matter, and we don’t talk about personnel matters,” Bombardier said. One of Winston’s neighbors called Montpelier police at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday to report that a man had walked into her Elm Street apartment and stolen her new 42-inch LED flat-screen TV, which was still in the box, from under her Christmas tree, according to court papers. While on the phone with a dispatcher, Denise Matheson, 35, said she saw Winston exit his apartment in the same complex carrying the box for her TV, Montpelier police wrote in an affidavit.

Officer Matthew Knisley said he and Officer Kevin Moulton found a box for a TV matching Matheson’s description outside Winston’s apartment door, according to court papers. Knisley said he had seen Winston drinking beer at McGillicuddy’s Irish Pub earlier that morning while doing a bar check. When confronted by Montpelier police, Winston denied stealing the TV, and told the officers they needed a warrant to search his apartment, according to court papers. “I asked Winston to put himself in our shoes and asked him what he would do,” Knisley wrote in the affidavit. Winston then told the officers they could search his home after he checked on his baby, court papers said. While waiting outside, Moulton went behind the building and saw Winston attempt to throw a TV off the balcony of his apartment and into the river, according to court papers. “Really Zak, are you ... kidding me?” Moulton said to Winston, according to court papers. The Montpelier officers reconvened at the front of the building, where they said they heard something large hit the water. Moulton said he searched the river but could not find the TV. When asked why he threw the TV off the balcony, Winston said, “because I did not want stolen property in my house,” the affidavit said. Winston resisted the officers while they handcuffed him, and again while they forced him into the police vehicle, according to court papers. Police jailed Winston at the Northeast Regional Correctional Facility in St. Johnsbury for lack of $5,000 bail. At 7:24 a.m. Monday, while at the prison, Winston had a blood alcohol content of 0.127 percent, the affidavit said. Prosecutors charged Winston with burglary, unlawful trespass, unlawful mischief and resisting arrest. If convicted on all counts, he faces up to 20 years in prison. Washington County State’s Attorney Thomas Kelly said that because his office works closely with the Barre City Police Department, he has referred the case to the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. Winston posted bail after Monday’s hearing and was released on conditions, including that he not contact the alleged victim. Winston declined to comment as he left the courthouse with his girlfriend and two infant children, but moments later he doubled back and approached a reporter waiting at the Clerk’s Office for paperwork related to the case. “You better not use my name,” Winston said. Contact Matt Ryan at 651-4849 or


Jessica said...

This is about my friend Denise Matheson. She called me the night that this happened around 3am. She told me that she was afraid for her life and now she is in a coma or dead. If any one knows of anything about this please contact me.

Cindy said...

More kids denied sale of age-restricted entertainment. Click for more information.