A former Vermont state trooper has been sentenced to suspended prison time and two years of probation for three misdemeanor offenses last year.
Former state police detective Zachary Gauthier, 33, pleaded guilty in January to violating an abuse prevention order, providing false information to a law enforcement officer and violating the conditions of his pretrial release into the community.
He admitted to the offenses under a plea agreement with state prosecutors, which included the court’s dismissal of a fourth misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty.
Vermont State Police said Gauthier resigned from the agency in April 2022, two months after he was suspended from work, when a woman asked the court for a relief from abuse order. She alleged he’d placed her and her child in fear of serious physical harm and that she faced the danger of further abuse. VTDigger generally does not identify victims of domestic violence.
The court ordered him to stay away from the woman and not to contact her. But the woman told police Gauthier continued to contact her that March and April, asking her to drop the restraining order, which led to the charge of violating an abuse prevention order.
The court did not detain him while awaiting trial but required that he follow certain conditions, including not having contact with the woman. Gauthier was later charged with violating those conditions, when the woman reported that he had continued communicating with her through text messages from August to October of last year.
Gauthier was also accused of lying to police.
According to court records, the woman who secured the restraining order against him told investigators Gauthier punched a six- or seven-month old dog on the head in 2021 after discovering that it had defecated inside the house. She said Gauthier broke his knuckle in the process.
When police later asked Gauthier how he’d injured his hand that day, investigators said he initially denied punching the dog and explained he’d hurt his hand from a fall. They said he eventually admitted striking the animal.
Earlier this year, at a hearing Jan. 10 in Windsor County Superior criminal court, Judge John Treadwell sentenced Gauthier in accordance with his plea agreement: probation until Jan. 11, 2025, and a suspended prison sentence of three to six months.
The conditions of his probation include undergoing screening for mental health and alcohol issues, refraining from violent behavior and not engaging in any law enforcement activities, court documents show. If he were to violate the conditions, he could be ordered to serve the suspended sentence.
The Washington County State’s Attorney’s Office prosecuted Gauthier, because Windsor County prosecutors wanted to avoid a conflict of interest. Gauthier had been a resident of Weathersfield when the criminal charges were filed in 2022, and had last been assigned as a detective trooper at the Westminster barracks.
A misdemeanor conviction does not automatically disqualify a person from joining the Vermont State Police, said agency spokesperson Adam Silverman, citing the eligibility and basic requirements for becoming a state trooper.