Federal Government Seizing Drug Properties in Rutland, Vermont
The United States Attorney’s Office announced today that it had filed a forfeiture lawsuit against the real property at 24 and 24.5 Cottage Street in Rutland Vermont. The suit was brought pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(7), which provides that property which is used to commit or to facilitate the commission of felony drug offenses can be forfeited to the Government.
The property contains two buildings which are used as a single room occupancy hotel. Tenants each have use of a private room, but all bathrooms and kitchen spaces are shared among all tenants. Between them the two buildings have seventeen rooms plus a private apartment, which was occupied by Michael Petruccelli, the son of the owners, and his wife, Stacia Petruccelli.
The complaint and the accompanying affidavit show that Michael Petruccelli was a crack cocaine addict who allowed drug dealers to stay at the property to sell drugs so long as they paid him in crack cocaine. The documents show Petruccelli also sold cocaine himself and helped some of the dealers sell their drugs, which included both heroin and crack cocaine. The documents also show that Michael Petruccelli went so far as to phone a dealer staying at the property to warn him that the police had entered the building and were heading for his room. The documents also show that law enforcement made seven buys of illegal narcotics at the property, including two buys of crack cocaine from Michael Petruccelli, and that he used a safe in the basement to store narcotics and assisted larger scale dealers to bag and sell their drugs.
The court documents show that the property is owned by a New York corporation owned by Francesca and Rudolph Petruccelli, parents of Michael Petruccelli. The owners have put the property in the control of Michael Petruccelli. The documents state that Mr. and Mrs. Petruccelli were informed by law enforcement of the drug dealing at the property, that they asked for assistance in stopping the illegal trade but that when they were informed that their son was dealing drugs there, they refused to take control of the property back from him. Michael Petruccelli was charged by federal indictment on February 4, 2015, with crack cocaine distribution. He is currently detained pending further proceedings in his criminal case.
The forfeiture proceedings against the Cottage Street properties and the criminal case against Michael Petruccelli are part of an on-going effort by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to address drug activity in Rutland. During the past year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged approximately thirty individuals federally who have facilitated the drug trade in Rutland, Vermont.
The charged individuals have included out-of-state dealers responsible for bringing significant quantities of heroin and crack cocaine to Rutland; local residents who provided housing, transportation, and local distribution networks to these out-of-state dealers; and couriers who moved the drugs between other states (most frequently New York) and Vermont.
The United States Attorney’s Office stated that Troy Gibbs, 52, of Rutland, pled guilty on March 10, 2015 under the federal “crack-house statute,” 21 U.S.C. § 856(a)(2), which makes it a crime, subject to 20 years’ imprisonment, to knowingly allow drug dealers to stay at a residence to store, use or distribute their drugs. According to documents released in the case, Gibbs allowed out-of-state dealers to stay at his residence on Summer Street in Rutland in exchange for crack cocaine. Gibbs will be sentenced by Chief United States District Court Judge Christina Reiss on June 23, 2015.
The United States Attorney’s Office’s efforts to combat drug trafficking in Rutland have been supported by the work of the Vermont State Police Drug Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Rutland Police Department. The United States Marshals Service will play a key role in the forfeiture of the Cottage Street properties. The criminal cases are being handled by AUSA Joe Perella. AUSA James Gelber is responsible for the property forfeitures.