A 34-year-old Philadelphia man was arrested Thursday, March 19, on federal heroin trafficking and firearms charges in connection with a fatal shooting of a Lamoille County man in Jeffersonville two weeks ago.
Taylor Ruffin Herrington has been sought since March 3, when Michael Haines, 39, was fatally shot over a drug deal, officials said.
A series of shots were fired into his home from outside about 3 a.m. March 3 and one bullet struck Haines in his stomach, police said.
Samantha L. Simms, 32, of South Burlington was with Herrington, also known as “Tee,” when the shooting happened in the Jeffersonville section of Cambridge, authorities said.
The Vermont Drug Task Force set up Simms for a small drug sale in Winooski later that day, court records show. They note she was arrested minutes later as she drove away in her GMC truck, after the reported drug sale to an informant.
Herrington made his initial appearance in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Strawbridge. He ordered Herrington detained pending his transfer to Vermont.
Haines and Amy Pudvah contacted Vermont State Police in Lamoille County at about 2:50 a.m. on March 3, reporting a man known as “Tee” was attempting to enter their duplex on Hillside Drive, records show.
The callers said “Tee” was accompanied by a person named “Sam Simms,” in Simms’ truck. “Tee” left in the truck but then returned to the residence a short time later, officials said.
“Tee” asked for his duffle bag and Haines threw the bag over the back deck.
A short time later, while on the phone with a Vermont State Police trooper, Haines told police he had been shot, officials said. They said Pudvah was in the residence with Haines and after the shooting she ran upstairs to her two juvenile children.
“Tee” was later identified as Taylor Ruffin Herrington.
Simms has pleaded not guilty to the single charge of knowingly selling methamphetamines to a confidential informant working with state and federal authorities.
Simms, who owns a condo at D-5 Stonehedge North off Spear Street, has said she was last self-employed running a horse barn for several years. Simms said she has a bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Vermont.
Simms had tested positive for the presence of cocaine, fentanyl amphetamines and methamphetamines in her system following her arrest, U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy noted.
He ordered Simms held as a danger to the community.
Conroy was told Simms has an estimated $1.5 million in stocks and bonds.
Until Herrington’s arrest today there had been no public explanation why both the Vermont Drug Task Force and the FBI Task Force were both interested in Simms. It also is unclear why the prosecution is assigned to Wendy Fuller, who serves as the Violent Crime Coordinator in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She had declined comment.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office began to fill in other details today with the following:
Investigation revealed Pudvah had picked up Herrington in Burlington on March 2 at Haines’s request. Herrington got in the car and put a duffle bag in the trunk. Pudvah brought Herrington back to the Jeffersonville residence, where Haines and Herrington hung out together.
Haines and Herrington eventually left Cambridge and went back to Burlington. Haines then suddenly left Burlington, without Herrington, and returned home. Around this same time, Haines went to a friend’s house, again without Herrington, and showed the friend a large amount of heroin in a ziplock baggie.
After Haines was killed, investigators searched his residence. They found a large amount of heroin in a ziplock bag hidden inside the home.
If convicted, Herrington faces up to life imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine in the gun case. He faces up to 20 years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine for the drug charge.