BURLINGTON, Vt. — The elderly parents of this county's deputy prosecutor were arrested last week and accused of driving marijuana cross country that they planned to give as Christmas presents.
Patrick Jiron, 83, and his wife, Barbara, 70, of Clearlake Oaks, Calif., were apprehended following a traffic stop Dec. 19 on Interstate 80 in York, Neb. The couple had loaded the bed of their pickup truck with bags full of pot, which they told police they intended to distribute as holiday gifts to relatives in Vermont and Boston, according to the York County Sheriff's Department.
The couple's son is Justin Jiron, the chief deputy Chittenden County state's attorney. Burlington is the county seat of Chittenden County, home to about 160,000 people on the shores of Lake Champlain.
"Justin is in no way connected to this allegation other than by relation," his boss, Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George, wrote in email Tuesday night to the Burlington Free Press. "Justin is and has been a dedicated public servant for over 15 years, and I assure you he is as surprised and upset about these allegations as anyone."
Attempts since Friday to reach Justin Jiron by email and Facebook message have been unsuccessful. A home phone number for him could not be located.
The prosecutor has been the sole chief deputy under George since January. He previously worked in the office under T.J. Donovan, now Vermont's attorney general.
As a deputy state's attorney, Jiron is responsible for handling criminal prosecutions in Vermont's busiest state's attorney's office. He has worked on a number of the state's highest profile cases during his career.
Among them: the prosecution of Brian Rooney, who abducted, raped and murdered 21-year-old University of Vermont senior Michelle Gardner-Quinn in 2006; and the case against Christopher Williams, who went on a shooting spree through Essex, Vt., including at an elementary school, that left two dead the same year.
Patrick and Barbara Jiron were pulled over on the rural stretch of highway in eastern Nebraska after sheriff's deputies spotted the pickup truck swerving and failing to signal, the department said in a statement.
Police "detected the odor of raw marijuana coming from the vehicle," the sheriff's department said. Patrick Jiron, who was driving, agreed to a search of the truck, and deputies discovered the pot under a topper in the back.
The pot was packaged in more than 25 clear plastic bags and at least one empty bulk-sized container of cheese puffs, according to a photo of the seized evidence. The name of the marijuana strain was marked on each plastic bag.
Police calculated the street value of the drugs in excess of $300,000.