Doney agrees to plea deal in Shelburne prostitution case

By MIKE DONOGHUE

A longtime Central Vermont rescue member and law enforcement officer, arrested in Shelburne in May on charges of soliciting prostitution and obstruction of justice, has cut a deal with Chittenden County prosecutors to avoid possible prison time and for a chance to have his criminal record wiped clean.

Lynn Doney pleaded guilty in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington recently to the misdemeanor charge of prohibited sex acts by soliciting a male prostitute at Harbor Place, a residential motel serving low-income guests in Shelburne.

Doney, 57, received a 12-month deferred sentence, which means if he stays out of trouble for one year and complies with probation terms, his criminal arrest and conviction will be removed from his record. Doney also must do 100 hours of community service and complete the Community Reparative Board program.

The deal also requires Doney to seek counseling for issues surrounding his prostitution arrest.

The Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office agreed in the plea deal to drop a felony obstruction of justice charge. The prostitute had an unserved arrest warrant, but Doney – a certified police officer – failed to arrest him, Shelburne Police said.

Defense lawyer Stephen Craddock said he expects Doney will return to his full-time job as an emergency medical technician with Barre Town.  He had been placed on paid leave. It was unclear if Doney would remain a part-time Barre Town Police officer.

Craddock said it was an appropriate resolution for the case, given that there have been few prosecutions in Vermont for solicitation. He said neither a second man also suspected in the case, nor the prostitute, were charged.

The more serious obstruction charge was dropped because Doney was not expected to make arrests as a court officer and doing traffic or crowd control, Craddock said.

Shelburne Police said they arrested Doney during a sting operation at Harbor Place when he arrived in May to have sexual relations with the male prostitute, who also was an acquaintance. Court records indicated Doney had paid the man for sex multiple times.

Doney acknowledged he had been in a sexual relationship with the other Washington County man for four or five years, but he told police he did not consider it prostitution because no money was exchanged for the sex acts, records indicated.

Doney described the relationship as helping a friend with his rent. He estimated he provided about $150 to the man “to help him out,” police said in court papers.

Doney is well-known in Central Vermont through his past work as an EMT, police officer, union delegate, court officer at Vermont Superior Court in Barre and as a Northfield Selectboard member.

An EMT for 30 years, Doney was placed on paid leave by Barre Town Emergency Medical Services and on unpaid leave with town police after his arrest. Attempts to confirm with Barre Town his employment status this week were unsuccessful.

Doney, a part-time deputy sheriff for 28 years, also was initially placed on unpaid leave from the Washington County Sheriff’s Department but resigned a couple of weeks after his arrest.

As of the Aug. 14 Northfield Selectboard meeting minutes, Doney is still on the board.

Shelburne Police said the criminal investigation began earlier this year after management at Harbor Place reported suspicious activity. Police located a man who acknowledged he had been paid to perform sexual acts at the motel. Investigators determined the sex acts had happened in both Shelburne and Barre, police said.

Shelburne Police, Barre City Police and the Washington County Special Investigations Unit collaborated on the case, which lead to surveillance and Doney’s arrest.

The prostitute told police he met Doney through Barre Town EMS about a dozen years ago and had re-connected recently through Craigslist.

Doney initially pleaded innocent to the two criminal charges. Judge David Fenster released Doney on conditions, including he refrain from any contact with the prostitute and he stay away from Harbor Place.

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