Crime and Justice

Bennington white nationalist sentenced to 2 years of probation for assault, hate crime

Max Misch is sentenced on Monday, Aug. 8, in Bennington Superior criminal court. Photo by Tiffany Tan/VTDigger

BENNINGTON — A local white nationalist was sentenced Monday to two years of probation for a felony assault and a misdemeanor hate crime under a deal with the Bennington County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Max Misch, 39, pleaded guilty to both first-degree aggravated domestic assault and disorderly conduct as a hate crime shortly before he was sentenced in Bennington Superior criminal court.

In the domestic violence case, Misch admitted to reinjuring the broken arm of a woman living at his home while they were arguing sometime between December 2020 and July 2021.

In the other case, he admitted uttering a white supremacist slogan during an argument in June 2021 with a Bennington woman whose son is a Black teen. But Misch denied the prosecutor’s statement that he used a racial slur against the boy, who was also present.

After a back-and-forth with Misch about what occurred that day, Judge John Valente decided that his guilty plea would stand even without the racial slur admission. Deputy State’s Attorney Alex Burke had the same opinion: “I believe that’s sufficient.”

Under Vermont law, Misch’s two offenses are altogether punishable by up to 17 years in prison. But in a resolution under the state’s new “Act 14 pilot project,” the Bennington County State’s Attorney’s Office agreed to recommend suspended jail sentences of one to three years on the felony crime and three to six months on the misdemeanor.

Misch’s probationary conditions include screening to determine if he needs mental health treatment or counseling, the possibility of being placed on electronic monitoring and not using any firearms or deadly weapons.

Because of his felony conviction, Misch was also reminded that he can no longer possess firearms.

The State’s Attorney’s Office also agreed to dismiss with prejudice five pending cases against Misch, which include another charge of first-degree aggravated domestic assault and a related felony charge of obstruction of justice. Dismissing with prejudice means the charges cannot be refiled against Misch.

Public defender Fred Bragdon thanked the State’s Attorney’s Office for treating Misch “like they would treat any other client with these kinds of charges.” The defense attorney said he appreciated that the county prosecutors didn’t bring in matters which other people might find “distasteful” or “socially inappropriate.”

Misch declined to speak when the judge gave him an opportunity to make a statement.

The hearing attendees included three members of Allies for Racial Justice, which was started within the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bennington, who described the group as allies to Bennington County community members who are dealing with racial injustice.

After the sentencing, members told VTDigger the outcome of Misch’s case shows the “privilege of white skin.”

“What’s incredibly striking is how very different this entire process would have been if he were Black,” member Naomi Miller said.

Misch, a combat veteran of the Iraq War, still has four more open criminal cases in Bennington, which are being prosecuted by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. They include two charges of illegally possessing high-capacity firearm magazines in 2019 — his oldest and highest-profile charges.

Last Tuesday, Misch’s attorneys renewed their request to have the court dismiss the magazine charges.

Assistant Attorney General Robert Lees asked the court to give the prosecution until mid-September to issue a response.

In 2019, Misch had asked the Vermont Supreme Court to invalidate the magazine law, saying the 2018 statute was unconstitutional, but the court upheld it last year.

In December, Misch was placed on house arrest 22 hours a day due to his mounting charges, but he is seeking to have this condition amended.

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Tiffany Tan

About Tiffany

Tiffany Tan is VTDigger's Southern Vermont reporter. Before joining VTDigger, she covered cops and courts for the Bennington Banner from 2018 to 2021. Prior to that, Tiffany worked for the Rapid City Journal in South Dakota and spent more than 10 years working for newspapers and television stations in Manila, Singapore and Beijing.

Email: [email protected]

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