Local News

Daniel Banyai, owner of Slate Ridge, is arrested, will remain jailed 

By Ethan Weinstein and Diane Derby/VTDigger

Daniel Banyai, owner of the controversial former Pawlet gun range and paramilitary training facility known as Slate Ridge, was charged Wednesday, March 20,  with aggravated assault on a protected person and resisting arrest after a traffic stop led to an altercation with a Pawlet constable, according to Vermont State Police.

Banyai was arraigned the next day, March 21, in Rutland Superior Criminal Court. During the brief court hearing, Banyai’s lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his client’s behalf. Judge Cortland Corsones deemed Banyai a flight risk and ordered him held on $15,000 bail. Banyai is expected to remain at Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility until he posts bail on the assault charge, and until his Pawlet property is found to be in compliance with Environmental Court orders that led to the arrest warrant for contempt of court.

Banyai, 50, has had an active arrest warrant since last year after he refused to dismantle unpermitted structures on his Slate Ridge property.

In December, an environmental court judge reissued a warrant for Banyai’s arrest after finding him in contempt.

Courtesy of Vermont State Police
Daniel Banyai

“The threat of incarceration is the only remaining tool at the Court’s disposal to encourage compliance,” Judge Thomas Durkin wrote in his ruling, ordering Banyai to turn himself in to the Vermont Dept. of Corrections by Dec. 22.

According to state police, Banyai was a passenger in a vehicle that Second Constable Tom Covino pulled over for speeding on Route 30 in Pawlet around 2:20 p.m.

Covino recognized Banyai and informed him of the active arrest warrant pending against him before instructing Banyai to get out of the truck. In response, Banyai called Covino a “dirty cop” and “refused to comply” with the orders, according to Covino.

“After repeated attempts to get Daniel to exit the vehicle failed, I informed him that I was going to administer pepper spray to him in order to gain compliance,” Covino wrote in his statement. “He postured up in the passenger seat, removing his seat belt, leaning in an aggressive manner towards me,” Covino wrote, later describing Banyai making a “fist” at him while yelling.

Courtesy FB
Banyai’s militia training site terrified neighbors in West Pawlet, including posts like this one.

“It is unclear if Daniel struck me first on my left side of my head or I administered my pepper spray first,” Covino wrote. The constable said he experienced bruising on his left temple as a result of the “initial strike,” which he described as a seven out of 10 on a pain scale.

The driver of the car was identified by Covino as David Brodsky, according to court documents. Brodsky was identified in a New Yorker story as having supported Banyai financially. He reportedly owns land near Pawlet. 

Banyai was transported to Rutland Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for what state police described as “minor injuries.”  He was then taken to the Rutland State Police Barracks and later the Rutland jail.

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