for the Colchester Sun

BURLINGTON – Three drug defendants, including the operator of a Colchester painting business, have received substantial federal prison sentences for a heroin and cocaine trafficking conspiracy for two years, records show.

Darrick A. Holmes, 49, of Williston was ordered to serve seven years and one month for conspiracy to distribute the two drugs. Once discharged from prison, Holmes, the operator of Almighty Peaks Painting in Colchester, will be on supervised release for four years.

Judge Christina Reiss ordered him to forfeit $129,203. The government was initially seeking at least $1 million in forfeitures from Holmes, including two properties he owned at 3250 and 3266 Oak Hill Rd. in Williston, according to court filings.

Holmes was considered a mid-level drug dealer getting his heroin and cocaine from out-of-state sources, court records show. Holmes drew two New York drug sources to his West Lakeshore Dr. business, where they got busted in March 2017, one day after he and two companions were arrested, officials said.

Shawn Alonso, 34, of Corona, N.Y. and Tamara Moody, 37, of Richmond Hill, N.Y. had brought more than 6.6 pounds of heroin to Vermont during the two-year conspiracy, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. They were carrying more than a kilogram (2.2 pounds) the day they were caught, a court affidavit noted.

More than a kilogram of heroin was found in a package when it fell out of Alonso’s pants as he was arrested in Colchester, records show. They also noted another package with 170 grams of an untested substance also was seized.

Both drug distributors were sentenced last week after pleading guilty earlier to possession with intent to distribute heroin, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Judge Reiss sentenced Alonso to 10 years in federal prison and Moody to seven years and three months in prison. Once they are discharged, Alonso will be on supervised release for five years and Moody for four years, the judge said.

During their arrests, Alonso was wearing $208,990 worth of jewelry, and Moody wore $32,925 in jewelry, but they agreed to forfeit the trinkets as part of the plea agreement. They were also carrying eight cellphones when arrested, authorities said.

Alonso and Moody gave up $13,653.65 from their bank accounts, prosecutors said.

The 1.1 kilograms they delivered to Holmes equated to about 35,000 doses of heroin and would retail on Vermont streets for about $350,000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Burlington lawyer Mark Kaplan tried to get Holmes released into the public after his 2017 arrest, but Federal Magistrate John M. Conroy was not interested. Holmes has an extensive criminal record, including two earlier federal drug convictions, records show.

Conroy said he was concerned because “heroin is ripping apart the fabric of the state.” He noted more than 100 people died in Vermont the previous year from heroin overdoses.

The government’s investigation revealed Alonso and Moody had traveled extensively in the year prior to their arrests, including trips to Sint Maarten, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Las Vegas and multiple cities in Florida.

A search of the couples’ Atlanta apartment revealed Moody had recently spent over $12,000 to purchase furs. Alonso had purchased season tickets to the Atlanta Hawks, and both Alonso and Moody had paid over $50,000 to a contractor in Atlanta for renovations to a tattoo parlor.

Banking records revealed over $100,000 of cash deposits into Alonso’s bank account, with suspicious banking activity in Vermont dating back to September 2012, prosecutors said.

Also arrested with Holmes in March 2017 were two employees of his paint company, Joshua Jarvis, 27, and Justin James Finnegan, 35, both of Winooski, court records show. In March, Jarvis received a 32-month prison sentence and Finnegan a two-year prison term for conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Both men, who pleaded guilty to the charges, will be on supervised release for three years once freed.