A St. Johnsbury man has been accused of breaking into the COVID-19 trailer at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital and stealing medical supplies.
Keith Courtemarche, 32, pleaded not guilty in Caledonia Superior Court on Monday to felony burglary and was released on conditions by Judge Timothy B. Tomasi.
Caledonia Superior Court
Courtemarche, who is already on probation for multiple burglary convictions, was charged after state police say a male suspect was caught on NVRH security video entering the trailer in the early morning hours of Oct. 5, 2021.
“The male can be seen using some sort of tool in his hands to pry the door open and at 0123 hours, he made entry into the trailer,” wrote Vermont State Police Tpr. Domonique Figueroa in her report. “The male can be seen exiting the trailer at 0139 hours with what appeared to be a garbage bag or black plastic bag of some sort.”
Hospital officials told police the trailer contained various medical supplies such as needles, alcohol pads and band-aids that had been “rummaged through,” according to the report.
“There were no actual Covid vaccines in the trailer at the time of the break-in,” wrote Tpr. Figueroa. “The nurses who worked in the trailer had their sneakers taken.”
Hospital officials told police that based on the sneakers that were taken and “various other items that were rummaged through,” the total value of the stolen items is estimated to be around $200.
Courtemarche told the court during the hearing that he was “homeless at the time.”
The stolen items were not recovered, said police.
Judge Tomasi released Courtemarche into the community subject to an 8 p.m. - 7 a.m. curfew at 139 Central Street in St Johnsbury.
“He’s described it to me as a halfway house for probation that took over for Judd House,” said defense attorney Sam Swope during the arraignment. “I’m not exactly sure of the details of that, but that’s where he resides.”
Caledonia County State’s Attorney Jessica Zaleski had asked the court to impose a 24-hour curfew on Courtemarche but Attorney Swope successfully opposed the request.
“I don’t think it rises to the level of extraordinary circumstances as described in the bail statute,” said Swope.
A probation and parole official told the court during the arraignment that the Central Street halfway house was a “transitional house through the Community Justice Center” which had no supervisory staff.
Courtemarche was also ordered to not enter the NVRH property except for emergency medical or verified medical appointments.
State’s Attorney Zaleski, in her argument for the 24-hour curfew, told the court that Courtemarche was suffering from a substance abuse relapse and that the Department of Corrections was already preparing a violation of probation against Courtemarche.
Courtemarche faces a possible sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a $1,000 fine if convicted.