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Former Gouverneur mayor pleads innocent

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CANTON — The former mayor of Gouverneur pleaded innocent Friday in St. Lawrence County Court to charges that he bilked two Gouverneur residents by fraudulently selling them a house.

Christopher A. Miller, 30, of 171 Rowley St., Gouverneur, appeared with his attorney, John W. Hallett, Watertown, to plead innocent to third-degree grand larceny and offering a false instrument for filing and to hear the district attorney’s office announce it is ready for trial.

Mr. Miller is accused of selling a house at 31 Edith St. in Gouverneur to Ronald and Heather Sliter for $50,000 on a fraudulent land contract because he failed to mention there was a co-owner who did not sign off on the transaction.

Mr. Miller earlier rejected a plea agreement because it would have required sentencing him as a second-felony offender.

As a result of the accusation, Mr. Miller also faces charges of violating the three-year probationary sentence he received in January 2010 in Jefferson County Court, where he pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal trespass and petit larceny, both misdemeanors.

A hearing on the probation violation was adjourned by County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards.

Mr. Miller resigned as mayor Aug. 15 and was charged six days later.

Also in County Court on Friday, Corey H. Shantie, 33, Massena, was sentenced to an interim probation of one year and is to repay his mother, Terry Shantie, the $19,100 he was accused of taking from her bank account over a five-month period in 2009 when she lived with him.

The thefts and Mr. Shantie’s refusal to repay his mother before criminal charges were filed caused an irreparable rift in the family, according to a letter written by Mrs. Shantie that was read aloud in court by another of her sons.

“It was never my intention to hurt Corey. Apparently he doesn’t care that he has hurt me,” she wrote. “I did not and still do not deserve to be treated this way. Even now that the matter is settled legally, I have not received an apology.”

Judge Richards gave Mr. Shantie the opportunity to make amends but he declined.

While Mrs. Shantie shook her head, he said he has already apologized to her.

“I can’t force you, but I’ll tell you this — life is too short,” Judge Richard said. “You close your eyes and years go by. You don’t think you’ve done anything wrong. Go ahead and punish them.”

Theron A. Pankey, 35, of 1121 Route 11, Lot 32, Gouverneur, pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal contempt, admitting he violated an order of protection to not have contact with Melissa M. Bonnell.

The plea satisfies several other open charges pending against Mr. Pankey in the towns of Gouverneur, Fowler and Rossie, including third-degree assault and second-degree criminal contempt.

Arley L. Dahlberg, Gouverneur, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.

He admitted having a car June 15 that belonged to Michael Chambers.

Mr. Dahlberg is to be sentenced Dec. 21 as a second-felony offender.

Timothy A. Shippee, 24, Gouverneur, pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted assault, which also satisfies DWI and first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation charges pending against him.

Mr. Shippee admitted punching Daniel J. Ashley June 23 in the town of Gouverneur, breaking his jaw. He will be sentenced Dec. 21 as a second-felony offender.

Shane W. Caskinette, 33, Massena, pleaded guilty to fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, satisfying additional charges of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Mr. Caskinette admitted he sold morphine March 22 in the village of Massena. He is to be sentenced next year.

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