V.H. man sentenced to 10 years in federal prison

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U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison praised the collaboration by law enforcement that led to Damon Burke's prosecution.

A 49-year-old Vineyard Haven man who traveled to Michigan, where he attempted to kidnap a woman he once dated approximately 20 years ago, was sentenced July 12 to more than 10 years in federal prison on the attempted kidnapping charge.

Damon Burke admitted in his plea agreement that he attempted to kidnap the woman — an ex-girlfriend from approximately 20 years ago, and with whom he had not had contact recently, according to a press release issued by U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison.

According to the release, Burke had previously stalked the victim, and restrained her in a vehicle without her consent after their relationship ended. That episode led to a conviction on state charges of criminal possession of a firearm in New York in 2002. In March 2021, Burke resumed his harassment of the victim, the release states. “After driving from Massachusetts to Michigan, Burke assaulted the woman’s housemate, and tried to steal a key to the victim’s home,” the release states. “Burke then attempted to go to the victim’s home. Police later stopped Burke near that location. In his car, Burke had a note to the victim, a stun gun, and a variety of kidnapping tools, including zip ties, handcuffs, smoke grenades, and other items.”

Ison praised the collaboration between law enforcement agencies. “This conviction is a result of a joint effort between local and federal law enforcement to apprehend our most violent offenders and hold them accountable,” Ison was quoted as saying in the release. “The swift action of law enforcement at the outset of this case surely prevented what could have been a far more serious crime. And the offender’s sentence will serve to protect the victim and our community going forward.”

“Mr. Burke terrorized his victims both physically and emotionally, and while that harm cannot be undone, today’s sentence is a first step towards getting justice,” FBI special agent James Tarasca said in the release. “We are grateful to the Northville and West Bloomfield Police Departments for working alongside the FBI to pursue those who seek to harm members of our community.”

Burke has also pleaded guilty in the Third Judicial Circuit Court to armed robbery, and was sentenced to serve 12 to 25 years in prison for his robbery and assault of the victim’s roommate.

The case was the result of a joint investigation by the Northville Police Department, the West Bloomfield Township Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as a cooperative effort between the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erin Ramamurthy and Christopher Rawsthorne.