Free Press Staff Report
Two U.S. Border Patrol agents were indicted Thursday on accusations that they caught a person with 60 pounds of marijuana, let the suspect go, and concocted a story to explain their actions, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Burlington.
A grand jury indicted Steven Garceau, 32, and Ross Schofield, 33, both of Newport, on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements, according to the release.
The indictment says Garceau and Schofield found an individual who had 60 pounds of marijuana at the Newport City Motel in Newport, according to the release. Instead of arresting the suspect, the indictment alleges, the agents released the individual and then submitted a report that said they found the marijuana abandoned, according to the release.
The agents' actions led federal Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to believe that the marijuana was found abandoned, according to the release.
According to the release, Garceau and Schofield sought cooperation from the suspect. The Border Patrol agents did not falsify the report for their own personal gain, according to the release, but the document sheds no further light on their motives.
"The federal criminal justice system relies on the accurate reports and truthful testimony of sworn law-enforcement officials," Vermont's U.S. Attorney, David Kirby, said in a statement. "Today's indictment should reassure the citizens of Vermont that a federal officer who creates a false report, gives another agency false information, or provides false testimony will be held accountable."
If convicted, Garceau and Schofield face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Hearings for the men in federal court in Burlington have yet to be scheduled.