Owner of Upper Valley Inns Pleads Guilty to Stalking, Assault Charges

By Jordan Cuddemi

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 02-09-2017 3:36 PM

White River Junction — The co-owner of historic inns in Windsor and Hartland had stopped taking medication for depression when he stalked two employees and fired a bullet into one of their vehicles last fall, his lawyer said in court this week.

Kenneth Lucci, 51, pleaded guilty to several charges on Wednesday in Windsor Superior Court and was sentenced to serve 90 days of an 18- to 24-month sentence. Lucci has been held without bail since his Nov. 18 arraignment, and with credit for time served, he will be released from Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt., in about a week.

Through his attorney, Christopher Dall, Lucci expressed remorse for his behavior toward Zack Burch and Savanna Mason, whom Lucci referred to as not only employees but as family in statements he wrote that are filed in the White River Junction courthouse.

From the defense table, Dall said Lucci “suffered a psychotic break” that was worsened by alcohol intoxication on Nov. 14, when he followed Burch to his Windsor home after drinking with him and rapped on the door, calling for him to come outside. Lucci also telephoned Burch repeatedly.

When Burch didn’t answer, Lucci fired a single bullet into Burch’s vacant truck, according to a police affidavit. Burch and his father, William, along with Mason and her young son, were inside the residence at the time.

The altercation was spurred after Lucci inserted himself into Burch and Mason’s relationship, according to several court documents.

Lucci told police he thought he heard several gunshots and that’s what prompted him to draw his weapon.

Lucci also was accused of smashing the windows out of Mason’s SUV on Nov. 9, according to the affidavit.

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Mason read a victim impact statement aloud in court on Wednesday and said she now lives in fear because of Lucci’s acts.

“This whole thing has put us through an emotional roller coaster,” Mason said from a lectern in the center of the courtroom. “Ken took the feeling of ever feeling safe away.”

Mason said she didn’t wish for Lucci to serve a lengthy jail sentence, but rather pay for the damage he caused and perhaps take “anger management” classes.

“To be honest, Zack and I don’t see how jail time will help the situation,” Mason said. “(We) don’t see the point of wasting more taxpayer dollars.”

William Burch accompanied Mason in court; Zack Burch didn’t attend.

Meanwhile, Windsor Mansion Inn Manager Gayle Ballard said Lucci has resigned as the managing partner of the inn, which he bought with his sister, Brenda Bradley, in 2015. The other partners continue to operate the inn, which Ballard characterized as “alive and well.”

Previously known as the Juniper Hill Inn, it was built in 1902 for Maxwell Evarts, a prominent railroad attorney whose family had long-standing ties in Windsor.

Ballard isn’t sure about Lucci’s current involvement in the Sumner Mansion, which he and Bradley bought in 2014. No one was at the Sumner Mansion on Wednesday morning, but a recording on the answering machine indicates the venue has reached its capacity for the 2017 event and lodging season. The brick federal-style mansion near Route 5 was built around 1810 by David Sumner, a lumber baron in his time.

Once Lucci is released from jail next week, he will remain on probation for 3½ years. Lucci originally faced eight charges, but ultimately pleaded guilty to one felony unlawful mischief charge and misdemeanor stalking, assault and reckless endangerment charges.

In court on Wednesday, Lucci had wanted to plead no contest to the charges, but prosecutor Karen Oelschlaeger objected.

Lucci received a deferred sentence on the felony charge. Because he pleaded guilty to a felony, he will be barred from possessing a firearm. A restitution hearing likely will be scheduled within the next 60 days.

Dall, Lucci’s attorney, filed a sentencing memorandum in support of the plea agreement that said a mental health professional evaluated Lucci and concluded he has symptoms of bipolar disorder and wasn’t taking his depression medication at the time of the incident.

He also had “obsessive thought patterns” about Burch and Mason’s relationship, according to the document.

Lucci’s behavior on Nov. 14 was out of character, according to several people, including Burch and Mason. Lucci has no prior criminal record, attorneys said in court.

In statements Lucci wrote to Burch and Mason from jail, he apologized for his behavior that night and said he went to Burch’s home with the intention of talking to him, not hurting anyone.

Lucci, who didn’t address his victims in court, described himself as a father figure to Burch and Mason in the filing.

“(I’m) deeply sorry for the bad things I did at your house that night and (I’m) sorry for scaring you,” Lucci wrote to Burch. “I would never hurt you or anyone else for that matter — it’s not in me drunk or sober.”

“There is no way I can adequately apologize to you or take back the horrible things I did or said to you,” he wrote to Mason. “All I can tell you is how deeply sorry I am for having said and done those things. I am sorry for ever getting involved in any way with your relationship with Zack.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.

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