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Finger-licking fugitive nabbed by sheriffs at SB Supermarket

By Mike Donoghue,

SOUTH BURLINGTON – A wanted New Jersey fugitive has learned it is never a good idea to try to chow down on food from the hot bar at a supermarket when police officers are nearby, according to the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Department.

One of the hungry grocery shoppers turned out to be Jamir Fitzgerald, 22, of Jersey City, N.J. and he is wanted on multiple felony arrest warrants related to drug trafficking in Hudson County, N.J., the sheriff’s department said.

Fitzgerald told the arresting detectives that he was relocating to Vermont to try to start a new life after getting out of prison in New York, a court affidavit stated.

Chittenden County Sheriff Dan Gamelin said members of his department’s Street Crimes Unit, after being part of an eviction case, were at a Shelburne Road grocery store in South Burlington last Friday afternoon when they spotted two suspicious acting customers.

The deputies, who were wearing shirts, vests and gear that had the word “Sheriff” in plain view, told the man and woman that they could not eat food directly from the hot bar – that the items had to be weighed and paid for, Gamelin said.

The woman offered some attitude, but the man was fine, and they moved on after filling two food packages, the sheriff’s department reported.

The deputies still monitored the couple and saw them continue to eat food out of their packages as they shopped and eventually stuffed one of the empty containers behind a food shelf display, Gamelin said.

The deputies confronted the couple again as they left the store without paying, Gamelin said. This time the man provided several identifications and dates of birth before eventually providing his true name and actual date of birth, the sheriff said.

A police computer check showed the man had four outstanding felony warrants for heroin and cocaine charges, including trafficking within 500 feet of public property, deputies said. The law is designed to cover public housing, parks, and schools, but in this case the charges stem from a case inside a local courthouse, records show.

A check with the Hudson County Sheriff’s office in New Jersey revealed authorities said they would extradite Fitzgerald back home, Gamelin said.

Records indicate Fitzgerald had recently been released from Rikers Island, a city-operated jail in the Bronx and he was identified as a member of a gang, the department said. He has a long criminal record in New Jersey and New York, including for drug cases, harassment, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, terrorist threats and shoplifting, court records show.

Sheriff’s deputies lodged Fitzgerald at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans for lack of $25,000 on the fugitive charge. He appeared in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington on Monday and was ordered held without bail.


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