Federal judge gives Berino another chance for recovery

By MIKE DONOGHUE

A federal judge is giving one more chance to a former Hinesburg resident arrested multiple times for building illegal methamphetamine labs and testing positive for drugs.

Jacob A. Berino, 25, now of South Burlington, appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss on Friday and admitted violating the terms of his supervised release by resuming methamphetamine use in August.

Federal Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy jailed Berino in mid-August on grounds the convicted felon was a danger to himself and others.

When he returned to federal court last week, Berino freely admitted his latest methamphetamine use. He will be sentenced Nov. 30.

In the meantime, defense lawyer Robert Katims asked the court to consider releasing Berino to Valley Vista, a residential drug treatment center in Bradford, when a bed opens up there.

Reiss was skeptical but, after quizzing Berino about his commitment to trying to overcome his addiction, she said yes. Berino, who was kicked out of Valley Vista six years ago, said he does not want to go back to federal prison, which he said was not a good experience.

By this week, Berino apparently had gone for treatment; he was no longer listed as detained at a Vermont prison on Tuesday.

The former Champlain Valley Union student, at age 19, was booted from Valley Vista for non-participation in December 2012. He’d been arrested when the meth lab he was constructing outside his Hinesburg home exploded in October 2012; he was seriously burned.

He was eventually sentenced to 3 years and one day, followed by four years of supervised release. However a few days after he got out of prison, Shelburne police found him making a meth lab at the Days Inn on Shelburne Road.

In that case, Judge Reiss imposed a two-year term for the meth lab, plus 12 months for violating his earlier supervised release.

About a week after his release from prison in August, Berino resumed using drugs, court records show.

Conroy appeared miffed at the Aug. 17 hearing that Berino, scheduled to be on federal supervised release for three years, lasted only one week before violating the rules.

Berino is well known to Hinesburg Community Police and other police agencies. The Burlington Free Press, citing public records and officials, reported Berino had been charged with eight crimes between July and December 2012, most designed to support what his mother called a “horrible drug problem.”

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