Veronica Lewis Pleads Guilty to Interference with Commerce by Robbery and Possession of a Stolen Firearm
(STL.News) The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Veronica Lewis, 36, of Worchester, Vermont pleaded guilty today to Interference with Commerce by Robbery, and Possession of a Stolen Firearm. United States District Judge Christina Reiss deferred acceptance of the plea agreement by the Court until sentencing, which has been scheduled for May 28, 2021. The agreement is contingent on Lewis pleading guilty in a prosecution commenced in Vermont’s courts by the Attorney General of the State of Vermont to Attempted Second Degree Murder of D.M. in violation of 13 V.S.A. §§ 2301 and 9.
At today’s hearing, Lewis admitted that on June 29, 2015, she met with a firearm instructor (D.M.) at his business in Westford, Vermont. D.M. provided Lewis a Smith and Wesson Model K-22 .22 caliber revolver for use during the lesson. After receiving instruction from D.M., Lewis intentionally fired three rounds from the Smith and Wesson at D.M., striking him in the face and torso. After shooting D.M., Lewis left the business with the Smith and Wesson, which was still loaded with three rounds of ammunition. Lewis also took six additional rounds of ammunition. Later in the day on June 29, 2015, Lewis was apprehended outside her residence in Worchester, Vermont while still in possession of the stolen firearm. During the plea hearing today, the government noted that in March 2020, a forensic psychologist examined Lewis, and opined that Lewis was sane at the time of the offense, meaning Lewis was able to appreciate the nature and quality and wrongfulness of her acts on June 29, 2015.
Lewis was initially charged in federal court on June 11, 2019 with Unlawfully Possessing a Firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4) and possessing a stolen firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(j) in relation to the shooting of D.M. on June 29, 2015. Lewis was ordered detained pending trial. On November 14, 2019, the federal grand jury in Burlington returned a Superseding Indictment, charging Lewis with Interference with Commerce by Robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), Discharge of a Firearm During a Crime of Violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), and Possession of a Stolen Firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(j). Lewis faced a mandatory minimum of 10 years imprisonment and up to life imprisonment on these charges, and up to a 5-year term of supervised release.
On December 11, 2019, Lewis was ordered to be evaluated by a forensic psychologist to determine her competency to stand trial, and whether she was sane at the time of the offense. On May 4, 2020, after the examination by a Bureau of Prisons forensic psychologist appointed by the court, Lewis was found competent to stand trial.
On January 5, 2021, Lewis entered a plea agreement with the United States, agreeing to plead guilty. In the plea agreement, Lewis agreed to waive an affirmative defense of insanity. The federal plea agreement, if accepted by the court, would require the imposition of a 72-month sentence, without any credit for the four years of time Lewis served in state custody prior to her federal arrest on June 12, 2019. The sentence also must run concurrently with any sentence imposed by the State of Vermont. The federal sentence, if imposed, would functionally result in Lewis serving a 10-year sentence concurrent to the disposition in Chittenden Superior Court. Lewis would also serve a 3-year term of federal supervised release concurrent to any supervision imposed in the state proceeding.
Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced that Lewis is set to be arraigned on February 11, 2021 in Chittenden Superior Court-Criminal on one count of Attempted Murder in the Second Degree. These charges stem from the same shooting of D.M. on June 29, 2015. Lewis is expected to enter a plea of guilty as outlined in a plea agreement. Under the proposed plea agreement, if accepted by the Court, Lewis will receive a sentence of 20 years to life, all suspended but 10 years of incarceration, and 40 years of State supervision with special conditions including, but not limited to, mental health treatment.
United States Attorney Nolan and Attorney General Donovan commended the investigative efforts of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Vermont State Police.
In the federal matter, Lewis is represented by Assistant Federal Defender David McColgin. The federal prosecutor is First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ophardt.