Umar “Goldie” Koon comes to Vermont to sell fentanyl, police say
by Mike Donoghue
BURLINGTON — A New York City man, who authorities said set up a major drug distribution business from an apartment house on South Meadow Drive in Burlington, pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court on Thursday to seven felony charges of selling or trafficking fentanyl and crack cocaine.
Umar “Goldie” Koon, 45, who splits time between the Bronx and Burlington, also denied a misdemeanor charge of possession of a switchblade when he was arrested on Pearl Street after getting off a Greyhound bus when returning from New York City about 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Vermont Drug Task Force said.
Koon tried to run from the arresting officers, but he was quickly detained, the task force said. Judge A. Gregory Rainville ordered Koon detained overnight for lack of $25,000 bail.
While the office of Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Sarah George was happy to allow Koon’s release on few conditions, Judge Michael Harris said Thursday he was concerned about the defendant not appearing for future court hearings based on his criminal record and conduct.
Koon, who lives with his wife in the Bronx, comes to Vermont to visit a girlfriend, Nikkol Champagne, 34, who has two young children — 3 months-old and 10 years-old — by the defendant, the judge was told during the arraignment.
Champagne lives with the two children at 107 South Meadow Drive, where police said Koon often came from or returned to after making recorded drug sales to a confidential informant in recent months, court records indicate.
A public defender said Koon could live at an apartment at 833 Queen City Park Road in South Burlington with another lady friend, Jennifer Baker, but Harris was cool to the idea until the court gets a letter from the landlord that he agrees to allow the defendant to live there pending trial.
Harris also said a 24-hour curfew was needed and could only be broken for medical and legal appointments. The proposed conditions included no possession or use of any drugs, but did not order Koon to refrain from any new criminal charges.
Harris also ruled Koon was to avoid any kind of contact with Champagne while in jail or on release. The judge also prohibited him from visiting 107 South Meadow Drive and said the defendant could only have incidental contact with his two children. As of Thursday evening, Koon remained at the St. Albans prison.
A Vermont Drug Task Force detective testified during the court hearing about concerns about drug trafficking at the Queen City Park Road apartment complex in South Burlington. The detective also said he had checked with South Burlington Police and they reported they have responded to calls from concerned residents about drug activity on the premises.
The prosecution also asked for a 24-hour curfew, but the defense said that would be difficult if Koon was not living with Champagne, the mother of their two children at 107 South Meadow Drive. Champagne works and needs Koon to take on his fatherly responsibilities, Public Defender Sarah Varty said.
Search warrants executed after Koon’s arrest resulted in the seizure of about 55 grams of crack cocaine, which equates to approximately 183 doses with an estimated street value of $9,100, the task force said.
Also seized was 51 grams of powder cocaine, which equates to about 170 doses with an estimated street value of $10,200; and about 36 grams of fentanyl, which equates to approximately 1,845 doses with an estimated street value of $22,140, police said.
The task force said it also seized a firearm and suspected drug proceeds.
George, the prosecutor, charged Koon with five felony counts of sale of fentanyl and two felony counts of sale of crack cocaine, records show.
He also denied two misdemeanor counts, the switchblade case and a charge of illegal possession of about 10 doses of hallucinogenic drugs, MDMA, records show.
More criminal charges are expected, including transporting regulated drugs into the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans Town, the task force said. There initial news release indicated they arrested him on 18 charges.
A prison guard uncovered a small plastic bag of pills in his buttocks, the drug task force said.
The Vermont Drug Task Force began the investigation into in August with help from South Burlington, Burlington and state police, and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
Also assisting the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives and FBI.