A South Burlington woman, who officials said owns a Stonehedge Condominium used as a drug distribution site in the past, is behind bars following her arrest on a federal charge of selling methamphetamines.
Samantha L. Simms, 32, tested positive for the presence of cocaine, fentanyl amphetamines and methamphetamines in her system following her arrest, Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy said Tuesday during a hearing in U.S. District Court.
Conroy said the Pre-Trial Services Office had run a drug test on Simms so it could provide the court a report in response to the request by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that the defendant be detained pending trial. Prosecutors maintain Simms is a danger to the community.
Defense lawyers Karen Shingler and Norm Blais did not object. The door was left open for reconsideration if a proper release plan could be found.
During a brief hearing following her arrest last week Simms initially had asked the court for a defense lawyer appointed at taxpayer expense. Conroy said that was unlikely because she had an estimated $1.5 million in stocks and bonds, and he agreed to continue the hearing for three days.
Shingler and Blais told the court Tuesday they both had been retained by Simms. She said she last worked in 2017 and has a bachelor’s degree in animal science.
Conroy said Simms is entitled to a full hearing Friday on whether there was probable cause for her arrest.
The Vermont Drug Task Force, along with the FBI, conducted a controlled purchase of suspected methamphetamine from Simms in Winooski on March 3, court records show. They note Simms had agreed to meet a confidential informant in a parking lot on East Allen Street (Vt. Route 15).
Police said a woman, driving a dark colored GMC pickup truck, arrived in the parking lot and picked up the informant. They drove to an apartment complex and the informant later turned over to police white colored material, believed to be methamphetamine, a court affidavit said.
Simms was later stopped as the sole occupant of the truck and arrested on the drug distribution charge, officials said.
She surrendered a purse containing $1,175, including cash with pre-recorded currency numbers from bills used in the drug deal, a task force officer said in court papers.
Also seized was a scale, empty plastic baggies and a glass smoking device with burned residue. Two containers with a white powder that did not field test positive for known controlled substances were also impounded, police said.
During a subsequent interview with detectives, Simms advised she has been using controlled substances, the affidavit said. She said her drug habit has been worse at other times and indicated that she had helped somebody earlier in the evening get some methamphetamine, the detective wrote.
The Burlington Free Press last April featured a residential fight in Stonehedge North Condominiums off Spear Street, that involved a residence Simms owned. Neighbors in the D Cluster said they tried to fight drug activity for more than a year.
It was eventually a fire that allowed police to permanently remove the residents from what records described as a derelict drug den in 2018, the Free Press noted.
Simms, who was described as a “beautiful young woman,” had been given the condo 10 years earlier by her grandmother, the Free Press reported. Simms started showing up less and less in late 2016 and early 2017 and eventually disappeared.
Neighbors reported strangers began coming and going from the condo, the Free Press said. They also noted hypodermic needles started showing up on the ground outside.
City police got so many calls, officers scheduled a community meeting in June 2018, Sgt. Chris Bataille reported. More than 20 local residents showed up and they all had stories – some outlining fights outside the condo by unknown persons and others reporting nearby thefts.
It was a bizarre event the night police conducted a raid. A man came out of Simms’ condo to collect the pizza he had ordered. Instead of the delivery, a car had pulled up – the only problem was the vehicle was a blue-and-gray fully marked city police cruiser.
South Burlington Police said they arrested the man, identified as Michael Gonzalez, 29, of Underhill, on an outstanding arrest warrant for careless and negligent driving in Franklin County.
Officer Aaron Dince reported that while in custody Gonzalez also was found to have misdemeanor amounts of suspected heroin and MDMA, also known as ecstasy, police said.
While speaking with Gonzalez, police determined a second person at the same D-Cluster condo also had an active arrest warrant. Police said after they successfully applied to a judge for a search warrant, they entered the residence to locate William Russell, 29, of Shelburne. He was wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant for petty larceny, police said.
Sgt. Bataille later returned to the condo on June 14, 2018, with a Health Officer and just a few steps inside the condo was enough to get the residence condemned, police said.
But Gonzalez soon moved back in and cleaned it up enough to get the power and water operating, the Free Press reported.
An early morning fire on July 18, 2018, helped empty the unit. The city declared it uninhabitable. A judge eventually ruled in January 2019 against Simms and all the occupants and in favor of Stonehedge North Condominium Association.
The ruling paved the way for the possible sale of the property, but by May 2, 2019, Simms had settled the court case and avoided foreclosure.
South Burlington assessment records this week show Simms is still considered the owner of the $242,600 condo.