Feds hit Edson with armed robbery charge

Burlington Police Dept. photo

by Mike Donoghue

BURLINGTON — A Burlington man with more than 40 felony convictions in state court cases and still causing havoc in society will now face the federal court system for an armed robbery committed during his latest crime spree, officials said Friday.

Eric J. Edson, 52, of Ethan Allen Parkway was nabbed by state police and Vermont game wardens in the town of Georgia on Thursday after a two-week crime spree spread over three counties, authorities said.

He pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court on Friday morning to a litany of crimes and was ordered held without bail at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans Town.

By late Friday afternoon the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and U.S. Attorney’s Office hit Edson with a felony robbery charge in U.S. District Court.

Edson is charged under the Hobbs Act — by unlawfully obstructing commerce with the Aug. 24 armed robbery at the Sierra Trading Post at 555 Shelburne Road near Interstate 189 in Burlington, the ATF said in court papers.

The U.S. District Court system has enhanced penalties for career criminals that are built into the federal sentencing guidelines.  Federal court also have mandatory minimum sentences, including for felons convicted for having guns.

The state of Vermont has a habitual offender statue that allows for up to life sentences after three felony convictions.  However Vermont prosecutors rarely file the charge and state judges do not like imposing lengthy sentences.

Edson threatened a loss prevention officer at the Burlington store with a gun and fled with multiple items valued at $374.85, ATF Special Agent Sam Brown wrote in his criminal complaint.

The loss prevention officer said the thief, later identified as Edson, had used “aggressive communications toward customers and associates,” Brown wrote.  The thief had stuffed store merchandise into his backpack, Brown said.

When confronted, the robber threatened to shoot the store employee and later partially pulled out a gun and repeated the threat. “Dude, I’ll blow your head off,” Brown said.  The robber then fled in a Mercury Milan. 

Six days later Burlington Police responded to 669 Riverside Avenue in the Old North End for a welfare check.  The driver, later identified as Edson, slammed the driver’s door on a female officer’s arm and nearly hit a second officer while driving away, police said.

Vermont Probation and Parole also on Aug. 30 confirmed that the pictures captured on police body cameras showed the suspect was Edson in that case too.

Edson made it back to both Lamoille and Franklin counties earlier this week with various sightings and possible crimes over the previous two weeks, police said.

He had eluded law enforcement authorities by using various modes of transportation, police said.  They included a car, dump truck, bicycle, a paddle board, sailboat, tractor, kayak and running.

The arrest occurred after troopers and game wardens, responding to a tip, saw Edson about 1 p.m. Thursday in a kayak on the Lamoille River. Edson landed the kayak, which is believed to have been stolen, on the northern riverbank near Vermont 104A. He then fled from law enforcement on foot, jumped into the river and swam to the southern shore near Georgia Mountain Road. Troopers and game wardens arrested him.

Milton Police and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department provided support on scene when Edson was taken into custody. The Colchester and Essex police also dispatched resources to assist.

Edson appeared for his arraignment by video from the St. Albans prison.  He denied various state charges, including grand larceny of the $23,000 sailboat from Charles Guthrie, operating a boat without consent and negligent operation of the craft.   Edson’s short trip at the helm ended when he crashed the sailboat into the cliffs at Rock Point on Aug. 30 and eluded the U.S. Coast Guard. 

The other state charges, besides the assault and robbery count, include eluding police, reckless driving and simple assault on police.

In addition, Edson also is facing a misdemeanor charge in Lamoille County of retail theft, police said.

The charges from Franklin County are under consideration by the new State’s Attorney, Bram Kranichfeld.  Vermont State Police released photos of Edson from surveillance footage showing him on Goose Pond Road in Fairfax on Wednesday.  

One image showed him approaching the door of a residence. The second showed him operating a stolen dump truck, police said. Edson subsequently abandoned the truck, which the state police have located and seized as part of the ongoing investigation.

Edson was transported to the hospital after his arrest in the town of Georgia for evaluation of injuries he apparently sustained while he was at large.

The Vermont State Police investigation into this matter remains active and ongoing, and additional charges are possible related to Edson’s conduct during his time on the run.

Officials encourage anyone who has information or who might be the victim of an unreported theft in the areas Edson frequented during the past week to call the state police at Williston at (802) 878-7111 or at St. Albans at 802-524-5993.

Categories: Crime

1 reply »

  1. If you are asking yourself “why is a person with 40 felony convictions out on the street” you wouldn’t be alone. 40 felony convictions means he was found guilty of 40 felonies. If he was charged with 40 felonies, we would say ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Where is the blame ? Edson certainly guilty of 40 previous felonies, but the real blame falls to the attorney general, and the courts, by allowing Edson to run free to commit more crimes, hurt more people. The attorney general, and every judge that responsible for Edson being on the street to commit additional felonies need to be held accountable.

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