BURLINGTON, Vt. – A criminal defendant in Vermont is facing federal charges after he reportedly threatened to kill a state court judge, a defense attorney, and sexually assault a state prosecutor.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont issued a press statement which says, “Josh Puma, 35, formerly of Chittenden County, was arraigned today in Burlington before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle on three counts of transmitting threats in interstate commerce to injure the person of another.”
“Puma pleaded not guilty to the charges and Magistrate Judge Doyle ordered Puma detained pending trial,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
According to prosecutors, “Puma called a Vermont Department of Corrections reporting line and threatened to kill a state court judge, a defense attorney, and a state prosecutor and to sexually assault that same prosecutor. The calls were recorded, and Puma specifically stated that when he is released from jail, he will use violence and kill and maim those state officials, in addition to harming and killing other members of the legal community.”
The feds said Puma was recently hospitalized by order of the state court due to mental health considerations.
Puma was incarcerated on apparently unrelated charges when he issued the threats, federal prosecutors said.
Because of the calls, Puma was charged with three counts of transmitting threats in interstate commerce to injure the person of another, Law&Crime reported.
A three-page indictment says Puma made the threats to kill the judge and the defense attorney “[o]n or about” Sept. 30, 2021. He is said to have again threatened to kill a judge on Oct. 26, 2021, and on that date added the sexual assault threat regarding the prosecutor. He again threatened to kill a judge on Nov. 30, 2021, according to the indictment.
Hence, prosecutors asked the judge to keep Puma locked up while the trial is pending.
“This defendant is eligible for detention because the charged offense is a crime of violence,” they wrote.
Accordingly, the magistrate responded there was “clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions of release will reasonably assure the safety of any other person and the community.”
Furthermore, the magistrate said the “[w]eight of evidence against the defendant is strong,” cited the defendant’s “[p]rior criminal history,” and noted a history of “alcohol or substance abuse” as grounds for keeping the defendant in custody.
According to Law&Crime, Puma was previously alleged to have been involved with the heroin trade out of a South Burlington condominium in a 2013 case.
Puma is being held at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield and has been locked up since March 10, 2022, according to a Vermont jail inmate roster.
He has a maximum exposure of up to 5 years imprisonment on each count related to the telephone threats, if convicted.