Judge again orders arrest of owner of former firearms training center in Vermont
Dec 5, 2023, 11:06 AM
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A judge has again issued an arrest warrant for the owner of a former firearms training center in Vermont, ruling that he is in contempt of court for failing to bring his property into compliance after an inspection last week.
“Respondent has failed to do so. As such, imprisonment is an appropriate coercive remedy in these circumstances,” Vermont Environmental Court Judge Thomas Durkin wrote on Monday.
The Pawlet property, known as Slate Ridge, included multiple buildings and two firing ranges on land about the size of 30 football fields (12 hectares). After complaints from neighbors, the town attempted unsuccessfully for several years to get the facility owner Daniel Banyai to remove structures he built without a permit.
In March 2021, the Environmental Court ordered Banyai to end any firearms training at the center and remove unpermitted structures. The Vermont Supreme Court rejected Banyai’s appeal in January 2022.
Last February, the Environmental Court issued a scathing order that Banyai was in contempt of court for deliberately flouting a series of court orders issued since the legal case began. At the time he faced jail and fines that could exceed $100,000 if he failed to comply by June 23.
In July, a judge ordered that Banyai be arrested until he proves that parts of the 30-acre facility have been removed or demolished. The warrant expired after 60 days without an arrest.
The Monday ruling orders Banyai to turn himself in by Dec. 22. The arrest warrant was directed to the Rutland County Sheriff and Vermont State Police but may be executed by any Vermont law enforcement officer, the judge wrote.
Banyai’s attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment.
In response to Slate Ridge, Vermont State Sen. Philip Baruth, a Democrat and progressive from Burlington, introduced a bill in the Legislature to ban paramilitary training centers in the state. The bill passed and was signed in May by Republican Gov. Phil Scott.