- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) - A former southern Vermont police officer has pleaded guilty to drug and neglect-of-duty charges.

Gary Harrington, 42, of Bennington had served on the Manchester and Winhall police departments and the Bennington County Sheriff’s Department.

He pleaded guilty Friday to two felonies - distribution of narcotics and forgery- and two misdemeanor charges of neglecting his duty and possession of narcotics, the Rutland Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1GSCD0q).

As part of the plea deal, his sentence on the felonies will be deferred for three years. If he stays out of trouble during that time, the charges will be dismissed. He will never be able to serve as a law enforcement officer. He was given a suspended sentence and placed on probation on the misdemeanor charges.

His lawyer James Valente said Harrington was in a car crash as a Manchester police officer in 2000 that led to serious chronic back pain. He said Harrington was prescribed painkillers to which he became addicted.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think Mr. Harrington realized the extremity of addiction that is associated with those types of medications,” he said. “Although he was able to make both things work for years, it caught up to him just as it does most.”

State’s Attorney Erica Marthage said Harrington said the sentence was unusual but appropriate.

“This was on a different level, specifically because my office takes the position that it’s a higher standard of care for a law enforcement officer,” Marthage said.

Valente was arrested in May 2014 after a woman he was involved with accused him of asking her to sell prescription drugs. The woman said Harrington also created a fake auto insurance policy card after she had been in a crash while uninsured, the newspaper reported.

Police said they found nearly 440 hydromorphone pills, an opioid drug, and nearly 160 methadone pills when they searched his home.

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