Burlington man pleads not guilty in alleged thefts from restaurants, bars

Lance Mason

Lance Mason. Burlington police photo

BURLINGTON — A Burlington man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to burglary charges in connection with what police say was a spree of robberies at city restaurants and bars.

Police were pursuing Lance Mason, 44, who had escaped from the Department of Corrections, in connection with two overnight burglaries at the Red Onion Deli and Red Square on Sept. 29. He was arrested Saturday night after allegedly taking a backpack and purse from a St. Paul Street restaurant.

Police said Mason had been identified in the earlier thefts by surveillance video, and that there was a warrant out for his arrest because of his escape from corrections.

He reportedly removed a GPS tracking bracelet in late August, officials said. His criminal record in the state includes 17 misdemeanor convictions, 19 felony convictions, four violations of court orders, an assault on an officer, five escapes, six parole or probation violations and four failures to appear in court.

Officer Joe Corrow, responding to a larceny report at the St. Paul Street restaurant, found two patrons’ belongings were taken from the coat hooks inside the restaurant. A videotape showed a man removing the items, and following a search of the area, Corrow found Mason near the corner of Church and Main streets.

Police said that Mason supplied false names several times before being identified properly and police found a cellphone on him that they say was one of the items stolen from the restaurant.

He was arrested on the warrant for escape and held on $100,000 bail, facing charges of escape, a burglary at the Red Square nightclub, a burglary at the Red Onion Deli and grand larceny in the restaurant theft.

Mason’s attorney, public defender Stacie Johnson, entered a not guilty plea for all the charges, including escape, in Chittenden Superior Court on Tuesday. Mason is due to return to court Nov. 12.

Jess Wisloski

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