Pubdate: Sat, 04 Aug 2012
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2012 Los Angeles Times
Author: Laura J. Nelson


Deputies hear a car alarm and rush out to find a nasty surprise in 
the parking lot.

The deputies with the Orleans County Sheriff's Department were 
rousted from a quiet Thursday afternoon in the Newport, Vt., office 
this week by a car alarm - from their own parking lot.

Two deputies bolted for the door. In the back lot, they found five 
cruisers, one transport van and another department vehicle crushed on 
the concrete like soon-to be-recycled cans.

They also saw a large tractor rumbling down the road and out of sight.

Without cars, the deputies couldn't give motorized chase, so they set 
out on foot. The tractor, although certainly not fast, quickly 
outdistanced them.

Then a motorist pulled up beside the jogging men. "What are you guys 
doing?" he asked. One of the deputies explained. "Jump in," the man said.

With the help of the driver and the Newport Police Department, the 
deputies stopped the tractor and arrested its driver, Roger Pion, at gunpoint.

Sheriff Kirk Martin got the call about the incident around 1 p.m. 
Thursday as he was headed toward Fenway Park in Boston to watch the 
Red Sox play the Minnesota Twins.

"You've got to come home," his captain said, according to Martin. 
"I've never seen anything like it. The cars - they're gone. They're gone."

The air conditioner had been humming, deputies said, so they didn't 
hear the demolition derby out back. When a car alarm went off and a 
911 call came in, they ran outside to see the tractor clipping down 
U.S. 5 - nicknamed Derby Road - at 40 mph.

Martin missed the game. (The Sox lost.)

Pion, a farmer, was obviously disgruntled, Martin said Friday. Less 
clear is why he would have taken out his frustration on the Sheriff's 
Department. He had been arrested in July on charges of resisting 
arrest and possession of marijuana, Martin said, but the arrest was 
made by local police, not the Sheriff's Department.

The apparent vendetta appears to have been against law enforcement, 
however. Officials said Pion, who was armed with a revolver at the 
time of his arrest, pushed deputies' personal cars out of the way 
before starting in on the cruisers.

In court Friday, Pion declined to enter a plea for 14 charges, 
including seven felony counts of unlawful mischief. He's being held 
on $50,000 bail.

The damage to the vehicles and the equipment inside was around 
$250,000. No one was hurt, and all the cars were insured.

Adjusters declared the vehicles totaled Friday. Until they can be 
replaced, deputies are using five borrowed cars from other sheriff 's 
departments in Vermont.

When Martin returned from court Friday, his voice mail was full. Of 
the 16 messages, 13 were from car sales representatives.
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