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Former chief to be sentenced for drug abuse

The Burlington Free Press (Vermont), SECTION: VERMONT; Pg. A05
BYLINE: By, Sam Hemingway, Free Press Staff Writer

Vergennes, VT

MIDDLEBURY - Former Police Chief Michael G. Lowe, facing 18 months to four years in jail on a series of drug-related charges stemming from a June car accident, is expected to ask a judge today to give him a sentence that does not include time in jail.

"I intend to make the point that this is not the kind of offense that requires incarceration," Richard Goldsborough, Lowe's attorney, said in advance of the sentencing hearing.

Lowe pleaded guilty in January to driving under the influence of drugs, fraudulently obtaining prescription medication and neglect of duty following a June 8 accident during which a cruiser he was driving struck a parked car in Vergennes.

Lowe was off duty at the time. A Vermont State Police investigation later found that he become so dependent on prescription painkillers that he had pressured fellow officers to obtain the medications for him.

In addition to the DUI charge, Lowe was arraigned on five criminal counts in August and resigned his post in September. Three charges, including one for embezzlement, were dropped when Lowe pleaded guilty to the remaining three charges as part of a plea deal worked out in January.

According to a police affidavit, Lowe had an arrangement with one of his officers whereby the officer allowed Lowe access to his ongoing prescription for Adderall, an amphetamine-based drug, and eventually allowed the chief to pick up the prescriptions himself at a local pharmacy.

In another instance, Lowe took a handgun from the department's evidence locker and traded it to a Vergennes officer in exchange for $300 in vitamin supplements, the affidavit said.

Lowe entered a Florida treatment facility for his drug problem. Goldsborough, who in January said Lowe would have "a lot to say" at his sentencing, declined last week to say who will testify today in favor of Lowe's bid to avoid a prison sentence.

On file at Vermont District Court in Middlebury are letters from eight people asking Judge Cortland Corsones not to send Lowe to jail or otherwise advocating for Lowe on his behalf. The letters include ones from Lowe's estranged wife and a treating psychiatrist.

"Chief Lowe was and still is very well respected in Vergennes," wrote Mathew J. Birong, a Vergennes businessman. "His loyalty as chief of police was admirable. He is repentant for his actions this experience has truly humbled him. ... Please be kind in your ruling."

"Mike has got the help and changed his life," wrote Tammy Delphia of Vergennes. "Why can't you as judge change things, make him the teacher to others that will not get the help?

With his knowledge and training we should have him teaching others."

Lowe's sentencing hearing is scheduled to get under way at 10 a.m.

Contact Sam Hemingway at 660-1850 or e-mail at

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