Franklin County's top prosecutor resigns amid impeachment investigation
Franklin County State’s Attorney John Lavoie will resign at the end of this month amid an investigation into allegations that he harassed and discriminated against his employees.
Gov. Phil Scott will appoint Lavoie’s replacement after getting recommendations from the “the appropriate Franklin County political party committee,” said Jason Maulucci, the governor’s press secretary, in an email.
“The Governor believes this development will offer greater stability in the office, and allow the people of Franklin County to put this unfortunate chapter behind them,” Maulucci said in an email.
Lawmakers began impeachment proceedings against Lavoie in May and gathered testimony from witnesses throughout the summer, mostly behind closed doors. The impeachment committee is set to meet Friday afternoon to “review and vote” on the group’s recommendations and report regarding Lavoie.
"We've been thinking of all the different scenarios that could happen, and certainly resignation is one of them," said Rep. Martin LaLonde, the chair of the committee, on Thursday. "But it would really be premature to for me to tell you where exactly we're going, because there are details still being worked out."
Lavoie, a Democrat, was elected to the office last November after serving as a deputy state’s attorney in Franklin County for two decades.
Lavoie did not respond to a request for comment Thursday morning.
He initially refused to resign after the Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs released an internal investigation into his workplace behavior. The report found Lavoie made dozens of inappropriate or offensive comments about race, religion, sexual orientation, weight and people with disabilities and substantiated at least two instances of unwanted physical contact, including an instance where Lavoie allegedly pinched a female employee’s midsection and said “I don’t think you need to eat lunch today,” the report says.
Lavoie admitted to making some of the comments, but said they were just “banter.”
“I used to look at this office as an extension of my home,” Lavoie told Vermont Public in May. “And now, it's clear that that can't be so.
Lawmakers are also investigating Franklin County Sheriff John Grismore, who was elected in November 2022 after being fired from the department earlier that year. Grismore was caught on video kicking a handcuffed and shackled man at the department. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of simple assault. That case is still pending.
State police are also looking into financial issues at the Franklin County Sheriff's Department.
Grismore could also face sanctions from the Vermont Criminal Justice Council, which regulates law enforcement certifications. The group could strip Grismore of his law enforcement credentials, though Grismore has said that wouldn’t stop him from serving as sheriff.
The council was set to take up the matter this month, but the hearing was delayed until October after a request from Grismore.
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