VERGENNES — The Vergennes City Council on Tuesday indefinitely postponed its scheduled disciplinary hearing for Police Chief Mike Lowe, and at the same time confirmed that Lowe will no longer be drawing his salary while he remains on administrative leave.
Lowe, 51, had been on paid leave since a June 7 accident in Vergennes in which a cruiser driven by Lowe struck a parked car. Vermont State Police cited Lowe for driving under the influence of prescription drugs, a charge to which Lowe — through his attorney, Richard Goldsborough — pleaded innocent in Addison County District Court on Aug. 10. A state police affidavit revealed that blood tests showed Lowe had traces of six prescription drugs in his system at the time of the Aug. 7 crash.
But Lowe’s legal troubles didn’t end there.
The Vermont Attorney General’s office announced on Aug. 14 that Lowe faces five new charges, including embezzlement and two counts of fraudulently obtaining a prescription.
“The Attorney General’s Office announced today that a citation has been issued to Chief Michael Lowe of the Vergennes Police Department, to appear in the Vermont District Court in Middlebury on Aug. 24 at 12:30 p.m., to face charges of embezzlement by a public official, neglect of duty, possession of a depressant, stimulant or narcotic drug, and two counts of obtaining a prescription by fraud/deceit,” read the AG’s statement on the case.
Lowe is scheduled to answer to those charges in Addison County District Court on Monday. Goldsborough, during a phone conversation this past Monday, said that based on his understanding of the attorney general’s investigation, the embezzlement allegation “does not involve the taking of city funds.”
City councilors had been scheduled to hold a disciplinary hearing on Lowe on Tuesday evening. But Goldsborough said city officials and Lowe, through “mutual agreement,” agreed to a postponement.
That postponement will give both sides time to scrutinize details of the new allegations that will be released in a new affidavit following the Aug. 24 arraignment.
Vergennes City Manager Mel Hawley said Monday that no new date had been set for Lowe’s disciplinary hearing.
Lowe will no longer be drawing his salary, as city officials placed him on unpaid administrative leave as of Tuesday.
Lowe’s prosecution is being handled by Stuart Schurr of the Executive Director’s Office of the Vermont Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs Association. The Addison County state’s attorney’s office referred the case to that office to avoid a conflict of interest.
Still unresolved as of last report was a separate probe by the attorney general’s office into Lowe’s handling of a case this spring in which a bullet was found lodged in the side of a city home. At last word, city officials were still awaiting a report on whether Lowe had a conflict of interest in not referring the case to VSP after the chief made what he said was an offhand remark that even his son could be a suspect.