The owners of a well-known skate board shop in Burlington were arraigned in federal court Thursday for allegedly selling marijuana at the store.
John Van Hazinga, also known as “Big John,” and Samantha Steady are accused of selling pot at their store, Ridin' High Skate Shop, which is around the corner from the Burlington Police station. Both pleaded not guilty to multiple charges. Van Hazinga and Steady voluntarily turned themselves over to authorities, according to their attorneys.
Steady was released on conditions. Van Hazinga was detained pending a detention hearing to be held next week.
U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan said in a statement that openly dealing marijuana won’t be tolerated.
“Those who deal this drug and have prior criminal records, those who deal it to children or in their presence, those who engage in violence while dealing it, those who deal it for high profit, and those who deal it in areas of high commercial foot-traffic should expect to receive heightened attention from the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Nolan said.
Attorneys for Van Hazinga and Steady said they did not have any statements on behalf of their clients.
Steady’s attorney Timothy Fair, who focuses on cannabis law, said generally it’s absurd to waste “resources on something as benign as cannabis.”
“With the opiate epidemic killing Vermonters everyday, one would think that law enforcement and prosecutorial resources may be better allocated towards a true public health risk,” Fair said.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the investigation began after witnesses reported teenagers were sold pot at Ridin’ High. Burlington Police also responded to multiple incidents, including altercations associated with the sale of marijuana at the store, according to prosecutors.
During the investigation, Van Hazinga allegedly sold marijuana, multiple times, to an undercover officer at the store. Prosecutors say Steady allegedly made marijuana edibles that were also sold at the shop.
Law enforcement also found that the couple was allegedly growing pot at their house in Underhill and were linked to a rural camp in Keene, New York. When authorities searched the premises, they found more than 50 marijuana plants, over 5 kilograms of pot, "numerous edibles suspected of being infused with THC" and about $67,000, according to prosecutors.
This is the second business in downtown Burlington that’s been busted for allegedly selling marijuana this year. In January, Seven Days reported Derek Spilman, the owner of Good Times Gallery, was dealing pot from the store, which was directly across the street from Burlington City Hall. Spilman was arrested shortly after the story was published.