Vermont Residents Detained on Federal Drug Charges Arising from Middlebury Incident

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Vermont residents Steven T. Browne, 37, of Shoreham, and Kayla Ramos, 22, of Rutland, have been detained in federal custody after their arraignment on a charge of possessing controlled substances with intent to distribute. According to the indictment returned by the grand jury, Browne and Ramos possessed with intent to distribute fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin on or about October 25, 2021. Browne and Ramos were arrested on June 8, 2022, pursuant to warrants issued in conjunction with the indictment. They were arraigned on June 9, 2022, before United States Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle on that charge, and they were held pending detention hearings. Browne and Ramos each appeared before Magistrate Judge Doyle for separate detention hearings today, and the Court ordered both defendants detained pending trial.

According to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint earlier in the case, police officers encountered Browne and Ramos at a hotel in Middlebury, Vermont on October 25, 2021. Officers removed Browne and Ramos from the room while they applied for a warrant to search the room. While the officers applied for a warrant, Browne and Ramos made multiple attempts to reenter the room, including by trying to break through an outside window. A subsequent search of the room led to the seizure of more than 3 ounces of cocaine and more than 1,800 individual baggies containing fentanyl or a mixture of fentanyl and heroin.

The charge in the indictment brought against Browne and Ramos is an accusation only, and they are each presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in further proceedings. If convicted of the crime of possessing with the intent to distribute controlled substances in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a) and (b)(1)(C), both defendants would face a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000. The actual sentences, however, would be determined by the Court with guidance from the advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

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United States Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest commended the investigatory efforts of the Middlebury Police Department (MPD) and the collaboration of investigators between MPD; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and the Office of the State’s Attorney for Addison County.

The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Lasher. Steven Browne is represented by Robert Katims, Esq. Kayla Ramos is represented by John-Claude Charbonneau, Esq.