The state trooper involved in the racial profiling / bogus drug case the ACLU brought on behalf of Gregory Zullo of Rutland is no longer with the Vermont State Police, according to the Caledonian Record. "'He is no longer employed by the Vermont State Police,'" VSP spokesman Scott Waterman told the Record. "Waterman also declined to answer any other questions about Hatch 'because of the litigation' and referred all other inquiries about Hatch to the Vermont Attorney General's Office. A message left with at the attorney general's office, seeking further information about Hatch, was not returned by press time," according to the story.
Hatch was working at the Rutland VSP barracks when he stopped Zullo in Wallingford because a bit of snow covered a portion of the registration renewal sticker on the bottom right corner of his license plate. At the time, that wasn’t a violation of state traffic laws (the legislature has since passed a law making it one), but Hatch parlayed the stop into an interrogation of Zullo about possible drug use. When Zullo would not consent to a search of his car, Hatch called for a tow truck and left Zullo standing by the side of the road, coatless, on a cold March day. Hatch told Zullo he’d have to find his own way back to Rutland, where he lived. Wallingford is eight miles south of Rutland, on Route 7.
After the car was towed to the Rutland barracks, a judge granted Hatch a warrant to search Zullo’s car. No drugs were found, and Zullo was never charged with any crime or cited for any traffic violation. He did have to pay $150 to retrieve his car from the tow company, however.
The ACLU sued on Zullo’s behalf in September 2014. The case is still pending.
At least one other lawsuit was filed against Hatch for similar conduct. Brought by two New York men who Hatch had strip-searched by the side of the road, it was settled by the VSP for $65,000.
Hatch is known in the St. Johnsbury area (where the Caledonian Record is published) because he was re-assigned some time ago to the Bradford VSP barracks and because he is married to the Orleans County state’s attorney, Jennifer Barrett.
Despite his departure from the VSP, Hatch may continue to work as an officer in Vermont. Under current law, he retains his officer certification (unless he were to be charged with a felony at some point). Professional misconduct is currently not grounds for de-certification, and a bill introduced in the legislature to make it so was derailed by law enforcement. Hatch remains eligible for employment at any Vermont law enforcement agency.