Five days after a longtime South Burlington resident finished serving five months in prison for a federal felony drug sale conviction, she resumed using methamphetamines, U.S. District Court records have said.
Samantha L. Simms, 33, who also is a key eyewitness to a Lamoille County homicide, was back in federal court on Monday to face three charges that she violated the terms of her supervised release.
Federal judge Christina Reiss on Sept. 30 sentenced Simms to the equivalent of the 147 days she sat in prison while waiting to resolve her methamphetamine distribution case.
Reiss also ordered the U.S. Probation Office to monitor Simms for the next three years and charged her $4,100 in fines and court costs.
The federal sentencing guidelines, which are advisory, had recommended a punishment between 6 and 12 months.
Simms was released that day from the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington.
By Oct. 5, a U. S. probation officer wrote that Simms admitted using methamphetamines again, court records show.
The second charge maintains Simms failed to report on the day of her release for a scheduled home visit by a U.S. probation officer, court records show. Simms also failed to reach out between Oct. 26 and Oct. 28 for check-ins with probation officer Alyssa Malone.
The third charge asserts Simms failed to participate in substance abuse treatment sessions at the Howard Center on Oct. 6, 15 and 20. She also failed to appear for a urinalysis exam scheduled by the Howard Center for Oct. 15, Malone wrote.
U.S. magistrate Judge John M. Conroy during the hearing this week reviewed the three charges with Simms and her lawyers, Karen Shingler and Norm Blais of South Burlington.
Conroy ordered Simms detained ahead of a probable cause hearing.
It was unclear why Simms remained free for three months after her apparent failure in October to comply with the terms imposed by Judge Reiss. The U.S. Marshals Service lodged Simms back at the South Burlington prison on Friday afternoon, records show.
She will be in quarantine for 14 days.
During the sentencing on Sept. 30, Assistant U.S. Attorney Wendy Fuller argued that Simms, who pleaded guilty July 10, should spend at least one more month in prison so she could understand the serious nature of the cases she was involved with, both in federal and state courts.
Simms had tested positive for cocaine, fentanyl, amphetamines and methamphetamines in her system following her March arrest, officials said. She was released April 8 to go to a 14-day program at Valley Vista, a residential drug rehab center, but by June 4 Simms was arrested for violating three terms of her release conditions. She had been in prison until her sentencing.
“I don’t think she gets it,” Fuller said at the sentencing. “I’m asking for additional time.”
Simms also was given a chance in July 2018 to go through the court diversion program instead of facing a criminal charge of providing false information to police, but she failed and was later sentenced in December 2019 to one day in prison.
Three months later Simms was an eyewitness to a drug-related homicide in Jeffersonville and drove the getaway vehicle for the shooter, officials have said.
A few hours later she sold methamphetamines to a confidential police informant, said Fuller, who serves as the violent crime coordinator in the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Simms also has the Jeffersonville homicide case hanging over her head, Fuller said at sentencing.
While Simms has not been charged by state or federal authorities in that case, court records maintain she was present when Taylor Ruffin Herrington, 34, of Philadelphia, fatally shot a Lamoille County man about 3 a.m. on March 3.
Herrington has denied a federal gun charge that could net him a life sentence, if convicted. He also has stated his innocence to a heroin conspiracy charge.
Michael Haines, 39, was found dead after multiple shots were fired into a duplex at 96 Hillside Drive in Jeffersonville. The shooting was in response to the reported theft of 60-70 bundles of heroin by Haines from Herrington, who had been visiting for a day, court records show.
Simms brought Herrington during the early morning hours to the scene in her truck and drove him after the shooting to Chittenden County, police said. Herrington fled back to Philadelphia, but was arrested March 19.
Hours after the fatal shooting, authorities targeted Simms for a drug sale in the hopes of learning the full name of the shooter, who was only known initially as “Tee,” police said.
Simms on the evening of the shooting sold $100 of methamphetamine to an informant in Winooski and was arrested shortly after by the Vermont Drug Task Force. Police seized a purse with $1,175 dollars, including cash with pre-recorded currency numbers from bills used in the meth deal, a task force detective said.
‘Vulnerable to unsavory characters’
Simms graduated in 2005 from Harwood Union High School in Duxbury and in 2011 from the University of Vermont, where she majored in animal science. At UVM she followed her passion for horse training and boarding and eventually established her own business, Cheltenham Field Stable in Shelburne. She later moved it to Charlotte and also did horse competitions.
Reiss said at the sentencing she was concerned Simms appeared to be “in the middle of a significant criminal element” and didn’t try to extricate herself.
Reiss said she also was particularly concerned because methamphetamines can ruin people and communities.
Simms inherited a substantial sum of money and has a high-profile condominium in Stonehedge North off Spear Street in South Burlington, where police said her friends helped distribute drugs. She moved out but they remained.
After the arrest of Simms in March 2019, the court was told she had assets that included an estimated $1.5 million in stocks and bonds.
“She is vulnerable to unsavory characters,” Blais said.
Simms, a single parent, said she wanted to reconnect with her son. She told the judge at sentencing she had been sober for 125 days — even with plenty of opportunities to get drugs inside the South Burlington prison.
She maintained she had turned her life around while in prison. Simms said she had worked about 70 hours a week in the kitchen at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility preparing three meals a day.
Simms said she wanted to avoid the people that caused her legal problems.
“Those people are everywhere,” Reiss warned.
Five days later, she was back using, the probation office maintains in court papers.