Authorities arrested a Church Street business owner Tuesday night after an undercover investigation found he was allegedly selling marijuana inside his store.
Derek Spilman, owner of Good Times Gallery, was charged with knowingly possessing a firearm in or affecting commerce and knowingly and intentionally distributing marijuana.
Documents show an undercover officer purchased more than seven grams of marijuana from Spilman on Friday.
According to court documents, Burlington police started receiving tips in September about the alleged marijuana sales, which included reports the drug was being sold to high school-aged children. One tip included a mother who said her daughter was hospitalized after eating a THC-infused candy bought at the store.
A police affadavit shows one of the first complaints came from Stephen Sclafani, owner of Full Tank, a business next door to Good Times Gallery. Sclafani told police he “routinely sees high school-aged children walking out of the shop with small amounts of marijuana.”
Documents show a long history of conflict between the two store owners, including an complaint filed by Spilman in October that alleged Sclafani was harassing him and telling people he sold drugs in his store.
Shortly before that complaint was filed, Sclafani met with investigators and said Good Times Gallery was “breaking the law and drawing all kinds of customers.”
During his arrest, Spilman told police that Sclafani had attacked him, and the handgun he possessed was to defend himself in the event of another attack.
Police seized over $10,000 in cash from Spilman, along with prescription drugs and two firearms.
Burlington Police Chief Brandon Del Pozo said the arrest was not a top priority for his department, but was only done at this time because a news report was about to be published.
“As far as marijuana, you’re allowed to grow it in your home, you’re allowed to consume it and the state is constantly on the cusp of making commercial sale legal,” Del Pozo said. “If we’re going to prioritize our work to protect Vermonters and follow the needs of our populace, marijuana enforcement is not going to be on the top and it hasn’t been on the top of priorities for awhile now.”
U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan said the store’s presence in a high foot traffic area combined with alleged sales to children made it necessary to use federal resources for Spilman’s arrest.
Spilman is due back in court on February 20th.