Police: Man and woman lied on witness stand during trial

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BENNINGTON — A man and woman both face charges that they lied under oath during a criminal trial last fall.

Both individuals were called as witnesses in the trial of a woman who, along with a man, had been accused of stealing over $1,000 worth of wood pellets from a business in 2015. Their statements under oath on the witness stand contradicted what they had previously told police, according to court documents.

George Guile III, 26, and Veronica L. Coon, 29, both of Bennington, each pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court Criminal Division Bennington on Tuesday to single felony counts of perjury.

Both were released on conditions. Judge William D. Cohen issued unsecured appearance bonds of $2,500 to each of them. Coon and Guile will both return to court for calendar calls on April 7 and March 27, respectively.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Dt. Larry Cole, a man and woman were arrested in the spring of 2015 and charged with stealing nearly $1,300 of wood pellets from the Stove Depot on Northside Drive.

Melissa A. Brown pleaded not guilty to single felony counts of grand larceny and conspiracy to receive stolen property. Both charges were dismissed after a trial in September. Michael J. Coon pleaded guilty last June to a felony count of grand larceny; a felony count of conspiracy to receive stolen property was dismissed.

The affidavit includes transcripts of separate recorded interviews with Coon and Guile conducted by former Bennington Police Officer James Gulley in April 2015, as well as transcripts of testimony they gave at Brown's trial in September.

Guile told police that Brown was involved in the theft and drove the vehicle used in the theft. He also provided details including when the series of thefts began and where the stolen pellets were stored.

Coon told police that she had spoken to Brown, that Brown was with Michael Coon during the thefts and that Brown drove the vehicle used in the theft.

Both Coon and Guile were called as witnesses in Brown's jury trial on Sept. 20, 2016. Responding to questions from Bennington County Deputy State's Attorney Alexander Burke, both Coon and Guile denied having ever spoken with Brown about the theft.

When asked about the interview with police, Guile said: "I told him that I was not aware that she had any part in it."

"Ultimately, the criminal charges against Melissa Brown were dismissed as a direct result of George Guile and Veronica Coon perjuring themselves on the witness stand," Cole wrote.

The prosecution requested a mistrial, which the court granted. Prosecution later filed to drop the charges without prejudice, meaning they can be filed again. In January, a judge granted a request from Brown's attorney the charges be dismissed with prejudice, meaning they were dismissed permanently.

Reach staff writer Edward Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111 or @edamon_banner.

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