Good Times Gallery owner will serve prison time for selling marijuana, witness tampering

Elizabeth Murray, Burlington Free Press Published 8:26 a.m. ET Dec. 18, 2019

The former owner of Church Street business Good Times Gallery arrested for selling marijuana out of his downtown shop will spend more than two years in federal prison.

Derek Spilman, 45, appeared in U.S. District Court in Burlington on Monday, where he was sentenced to 29 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.

He had pleaded guilty in August to conspiring to distribute marijuana, being a drug user in possession of a firearm and witness tampering.

A screen shot of court papers filed with U.S. District Court shows a photo included as an exhibit by the U.S. Attorney's Office that depicts the distance between Good Times Gallery and Full Tank on Church Street.

A screen shot of court papers filed with U.S. District Court shows a photo included as an exhibit by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that depicts the distance between Good Times Gallery and Full Tank on Church Street. (Photo: Free Press)

Original arrest in January

Spilman, who was originally arrested in late January, has been detained in federal custody since March. His detention came after a judge found that Spilman violated conditions of release by attempting to intimidate a witness in the case.

Spilman’s nephew took responsibility for one of the intimidation tactics — smearing dog feces on the storefront window of the business next door — but was later found to have lied under oath.

Derek Aviles pleaded guilty to witness tampering in July, and he is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

A screenshot of federal court papers shows photos of Derek Spilman, the owner of Good Times Gallery, on the day of his arrest in late January 2019.

A screenshot of federal court papers shows photos of Derek Spilman, the owner of Good Times Gallery, on the day of his arrest in late January 2019. (Photo: Free Press)

Spilman’s mother Donna Mahar has also pleaded guilty to witness tampering for her role in pressuring Aviles to take credit for her son’s actions. She is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

Both Mahar and Aviles remain free on conditions while their cases are pending.


The Cannabis Catch-Up: Has Vermont’s Hemp Bubble Popped?


Fields of green? - KEN PICARD

  • Fields of green?

Vermont is in the middle of a hemp boom.
Hundreds of farmers of all sizes and skills registered with the state about 9,000 acres for hemp in 2019. Most joined the green rush to capitalize on the popularity of cannabidiol-infused everything.
Yet all that glitters is not gold. Those who didn’t line up buyers before the season are finding that out the hard way. In fact, some hemp farmers will have to leave crops in the field to rot as demand fails to meet supply, reports. Bigger companies, including Sunsoil in the Northeast Kingdom, are having no such problems.
“I see the mistakes folks are making and I wish I could warn everybody,” Sunsoil cofounder Alejandro Bergad told Digger. “Farmers are going into this without knowledge of where they are going to dry their products in a sanitary environment, and without knowledge of where they are going to fit into the supply chain.”
That’s certainly the case when some 1,000 farmers are taking a stab at hemp production this year. And that’s just in Vermont; production is up in other states as well. In Kentucky, for example, farmers planted an estimated 60,000 acres of hemp this year, more than six times Vermont’s output.
Here are some other recent cannabis stories we’ve followed:

October 6: As a trade war rages on and CBD becomes all the rage, farmers nationwide are turning to hemp to diversify their crops. An estimated 285,000 acres of hemp was planted across the country this year. [Amelia Nierenberg, the New York Times]

October 6: “Marijuana should not be legalized because it is popular. Pennsylvania should legalize recreational marijuana because it is the right thing to do.” [Editorial Board, the Philadelphia Inquirer]

October 7: If you’re hoping to nab that “I Love Weed, LLC” business name in Vermont then you better get on it: “Already, there are 68 active businesses, nonprofits or trademarks with the word ‘cannabis’ in their name, according to filings with the Secretary of State.” [Isaac Fornarola, Burlington Free Press]

October 10: “Though ‘wine mom’ culture has long been the source of many a mommy meme and largely socially acceptable, marijuana-using moms are stepping out of the shadows and proudly extolling the virtues of cannabis.” [Genevieve Shaw Brown, “Good Morning America”]

October 11: People in the Illinois cannabis industry are already bracing for weed shortages when recreational dispensaries open for business in January 2020. [Ally Marotti, Chicago Tribune]

October 11: “Public cannabis companies are facing a capital crunch as investors are recognizing that some firms were vastly overvalued and sweeping regulatory changes may come later than previously hoped.” [Alicia Wallace, CNN Business]

October 12: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) spent two days visiting with members of California’s cannabis industry, raising hopes that he might change his tune on cannabis banking reform. Purveyors of legal pot have pushed for the SAFE Banking Act, which would allow banks to do business with marijuana companies in states that have legalized it. The House passed the bill but it faces an uphill climb in the Senate. [Max A. Cherney, MarketWatch]

October 15: The number of reported vaping-linked lung illnesses has risen to nearly 1,500 across the country. The tally includes 33 deaths in 24 states. Earlier this month, a 17-year-old boy died in New York City, the youngest person known to have died of the illness. As of October 17, Vermont health officials have confirmed three cases. [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]

October 16: It’s been one year since Canada legalized weed, a source of pride — and frustration — for our neighbor to the north. Legal sales totaled about $1 billion in the 12 months since. But the illicit market persists; buyers spent an estimated $5 billion to $7 billion on black market weed the same year. [Gene Johnson, Elaine Thompson and Rob Gillies, Associated Press]

October 16: The largest marijuana grower in Colorado lost millions of dollars in weed after a snowstorm earlier this month killed half of the farm’s outdoor-grown plants. The crop loss “is expected to send ripples throughout the state’s cannabis supply chain.” [Bart Schaneman, Marijuana Business Daily]
Got a story you want to see in our our weekly roundup? Send an email to [email protected].

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Police investigating discovery of body on Burlington rooftop Police investigating discovery of body on Burlington rooftop

By Calvin Cutler |

Posted: Mon 4:40 PM, Oct 14, 2019  |

Updated: Mon 7:31 PM, Oct 14, 2019

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) An investigation is underway after a body was found on the roof of a Burlington building.

Police are not yet providing many details but did confirm a body was found at about 2:30 p.m. on top of the Parkhill Building. That’s the building at the corner of Main Street and South Winooski Avenue where Mr. Mike’s Pizza is located.

No word yet on the person’s identity or how they died. Police would not say if they suspect foul play.

Shortly before 6 p.m., crews used a fire department ladder truck to remove the body from the rooftop.

The building houses several businesses, and people who work there told our Calvin Cutler that the only way to reach the roof is through one door in the center of the building.

Kid Rock is getting his own giant middle finger sculpture from Vermont "It’s quite a thrill for me, honestly."

“It’s quite a thrill for me, honestly.”

Ted Pelkey’s middle finger sculpture being installed at his home in Westford, Vermont. –Courtesy of Ted Pelkey


Nik DeCosta-Klipa

1:36 PM

Ted Pelkey’s giant middle finger sculpture apparently has fans beyond Vermont’s Route 128.  And the Westford resident’s work of “art” will soon have a twin in Nashville.

Pelkey says he’s driving down to Tennessee with his wife later this month to hand-deliver a second version of his 700-pound wooden sculpture to singer Kid Rock. As WCAX first reported last week, the country music star called the 54-year-old Vermont native in December to express his admiration — and to ask if he could get his own middle finger sculpture.

“It’s quite a thrill for me, honestly,” Pelkey told over the phone Wednesday. “He just really wants one.”

Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, has made the crude gesture something of his personal signature through his personal appearances, song lyrics, merchandise, and album art. Pelkey said he first got a voicemail from Rock around Christmas, in which the 48-year-old singer said he “liked my style.” Despite recent controversies, Pelkey noted that Rock came off as a real “down-to-earth guy” during their phone calls.

“I would do it for him if it wasn’t Kid Rock,” he added.

Pelkey had the original sculpture commissioned in November to protest Westford town officials, who he felt were treating him unfairly in a dispute over his efforts to build a garage on his property. He paid a local artist for the massive middle finger sculpture, which he mounted on a 16-foot platform in his yard and lit with floodlights. Considered a work of “public art” under Vermont law, the giant bird was allowed to stay up, catching the attention of both Route 128 drivers and nationalnews outlets.

“It was critical to me to make sure that my neighbors and the people who live in this town understood that I didn’t put that up there for them,” Pelkey told at the time. “It is aimed directly at the people who sit in our town office.”

Rock is paying $4,000 — the same amount that Pelkey paid — for the second sculpture. Pelkey says he recently picked up Rock’s sculpture from the same artist who commissioned the original and is looking forward to hauling it down to the singer’s Nashville home. According to the Tennessean, Rock owns 170 acres of property in the city’s Whites Creek neighborhood.

The second sculpture won’t be the first crass display Rock has put up in Nashville, even if it will be somewhat hidden in the city’s outskirts. Earlier this year, Nashville’s Metro Council reluctantly approved a 20-foot sign outside the rock star’s new Broadway restaurant, Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse, that featured a giant guitar that was intentionally made to look like a woman’s butt.

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