By MICHAEL DONOGHUE
Islander Staff Writer
NORTH HERO – A Winooski Police officer pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court in North Hero on Thursday to multiple counts of domestic assault, criminal threatening and unlawful restraint in connection with a series of attacks on his girlfriend at his Alburgh home.
Detective Christopher Matott, 31, was assigned to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Drug Task Force until earlier this month when his employer, the city of Winooski, placed him on paid leave pending further investigation.
State police said the incidents reported by the victim about Matott involved a series of claims. They include physical assaults that involved strangling, being restrained by force, receiving repeated threats of death and violence and being prevented from leaving a room or residence, Detective Lt. Jason Letourneau said.
Veteran defense lawyer Robert Katims entered the not guilty pleas on behalf of his client during a brief court hearing.
Grand Isle County State’s Attorney Doug DiSabito said he was willing to allow Matott to be released on conditions including that he has no contact with or harass the victim.
Matott also is prohibited from possession any deadly weapon or any alcoholic beverages. He was told to “follow all family court orders” and to report to the State Police barracks in St. Albans to be fingerprinted and photographed.
Matott was charged with one count of felony unlawful restraint, three counts of domestic assault, two counts of criminal threatening all in Grand Isle County and one felony count of aggravated domestic assault in Chittenden County, Letourneau said.
The victim, who is 29, maintains the reported assaults took place at least four times between July 2019 and January 2020 at a home in Alburgh, court records say. The one felony count in Grand Isle County is for unlawful restraint on Dec. 15, 2019, records show.
State police worked closely with DiSabito during the investigation. DiSabito has asked to incorporate the one Chittenden County charge into his prosecution to keep the cases together. Katims said he would like time to consider the request.
Judge Sam Hoar Jr. said he would also check with the court in Burlington on possible consolidation.
The investigation began after the Grand Isle County Sheriff's Department served an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) on Matott, State Police Spokesman Adam Silverman said. The Sheriff’s Department requested state police investigate the assault allegations.
Meanwhile officers from State Police and Winooski Police accompanied Matott to his residence to impound eight shotguns, rifles and handguns as the investigation began to unfold, officials said.
Matott, originally from Rouses Point, N.Y., has served with Winooski Police since July 12, 2017. He had worked for South Burlington Police from 2014 until moving to WPD. After working in the patrol division for about two years, Matott was assigned to the federal drug task force last fall, Winooski Police said.
Judge Hoar set the next court hearing for March 26.