A South Burlington woman has pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court to a one-count federal indictment for selling methamphetamines to an confidential informant working with state and federal authorities.
Samantha L. Simms, 32, was due for a hearing on Friday on whether there was probable cause for her arrest, but she lost that right when a federal grand jury indicted her on Thursday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy converted the scheduled hearing into an arraignment on the felony charge.
During the hearing co-defense lawyers, Karen Shingler and Norman Blais flanked Simms, who answered various questions from Conroy.
Simms, who owns a condo at D-5 Stonehedge North off Spear Street, told the court she was last self-employed by running a horse barn for several years. Simms said she has a bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Vermont.
On behalf of the defense Shingler asked for 60 days to investigate the case and file possible pre-trial motions.
Conroy set a May 12 deadline and agreed the time requested by the defense will be excluded from calculating the Speedy Trial Act. Federal defendants normally are expected to go on trial within 70 days.
Conroy said the case will be heard in Burlington by Judge Christina Reiss.
There was no effort to try to get Simms released on conditions. Conroy noted Simms has to deal with some drug impairment initially so she can help with her defense.
Simms had tested positive for the presence of cocaine, fentanyl amphetamines and methamphetamines in her system following her arrest, Conroy had said during an earlier hearing.
The Pre-Trial Services Office had run the drug test on Simms to see if she should be detained or released pending trial.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Wendy Fuller filed a motion noting she believed Simms is a danger to the community.
It remains unclear why both the Vermont Drug Task Force and the FBI Task Force were both interested in getting a drug sale case against Simms. It also is unclear why the prosecution is assigned to Fuller, who serves as the Violent Crime Coordinator in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
She declined comment after the hearing.
Fuller did tell Conroy the case is a single controlled buy. Fuller said there were some audio recordings and dash cam video from a cruiser, presumably for a traffic stop shortly after the drug sale. She said the government is waiting for the drug test results.
After the reported sale in Winooski on March 3, Simms was arrested after driving a GMC truck over the Winooski River bridge, court records show. They did not say whether it was on Interstate 89 or on U.S. 2 and 7 at the Burlington-Winooski line.
When arrested, Simms surrendered a purse containing $1,175 dollars, including cash with pre-recorded currency numbers from bills used in the drug deal, court records show.
Conroy was told Simms has an estimated $1.5 million in stocks and bonds.