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EXCLUSIVE: Burlington Police round up record-setting seven handguns, state police solve cold case, and other police news

By Michael Bielawski,

The Burlington Police Department announced that a man from Connecticut was arrested last week and charged with the distribution of cocaine base in Burlington. Also confiscated were seven handguns, a new record for the BPD.

The release by the US Department of Justice states, “The United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Jahking Allah, also known as “Stop Sign,” 44, of Quaker Hill, Connecticut was arrested on Friday, January 19, 2024, and subsequently charged by federal criminal complaint with distribution of cocaine base.”

According to court documents, Allah on two occasions this month sold drugs to a Burlington resident. On Jan. 19 officers used a warrant to search 195 St. Paul Street, Apartment A, where Allah was residing.

Inside officers found seven handguns, of which two had been reported stolen.

The BPD notes that the seven handguns account for the most that they’ve ever obtained during a single search. In addition, they found about 85 grams of suspected cocaine base and about 25 grams of suspected fentanyl, as well as multiple digital scales.

Allah could face up to 20 years in prison.

BPD chief Jon Murad also put out a statement.

“We are also grateful for the partnership of the Drug Enforcement Administration,” he wrote. “The arrest and seizures described in the release were previously shared in the BPD’s January 19 2024 press release about the search warrant operations. They were the result of a long investigation into an enterprise that had caused negative ripples in the St Paul Street neighborhood around King and Maple Streets.”

Cold case solved

Back in 2019, there was a single-vehicle crash on Hollow Road in the Town of Barton, the driver, Richard Poginy, 37, of Glover, passed away days later at a hospital. At the time it was undetermined what caused the accident.

About a half decade later, it appears that investigative efforts are painting a picture of what happened.

A new press release states “According to the investigative findings, Brownswell Cedano, 29, physically assaulted and repeatedly struck Poginy outside a home in Barton. Cedano, who at the time was a resident of Hartford, Connecticut, then fled the scene. Poginy subsequently drove away from the home before crashing his car a short distance away.”

According to the new report, Cedano targeted Poginy over debt from drug purchases, but he may have mistakenly targeted the wrong man.

Cedano is already incarcerated in Pennsylvania over a federal drug charge but now he is expected to return to Vermont for a murder charge.

Woman likely murdered in St Johnsbury

An apparent homicide has been reported in St Johnsbury by State Police. So far it’s officially labeled a suspicious death.

“The investigation began at about 5:55 p.m. when St. Johnsbury police received a report from a passerby who saw a vehicle with apparent bullet holes in a parking lot in the area of 510 Portland St., and an individual inside the vehicle who was slumped over. Responding officers located an adult female deceased at the scene,” the report states.

In an update on Thursday, state police announced that the victim has been identified but they are not ready to release the name yet.

There may now be a break in the case. The update states, “As a part of this investigation, two individuals have been detained on unrelated, out-of-state warrants. No further information about these individuals is available.”

Along with the Vermont State Police Major Crime Unit, the Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Field Force Division, and Victim Services Unit are working together. So far it’s being considered an isolated incident.

Chief says 2020 defunding caused officer shortage

Murad was on the Morning Drive radio show again this week. The first question he got was does he consider the defunding of the department back in 2020 the cause of the subsequent officer exodus resulting in about a 30% drop in available officers.

He said, “It was very clear to me, to other people involved and also we made it clear in testimony in June of 2020 that that reduction would happen far faster than anyone anticipated, that there was a clear message to the men and women of the police department about how the community felt about policing and that that was going to have an immediate effect on that attrition, and that is exactly what happened."

The department had nearly 100 officers available at the time of the resolution, months later they were below 70 and crime was rising meaning the department had to do more with less.

The author is a reporter for the Vermont Daily Chronicle


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