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Sun., Dec. 28
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Massena man sentenced to 30 days in jail for gas driveoff

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MASSENA - A $20 gas driveoff last October will result in a Massena man starting this October with an address in Canton at the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility.

Massena Village Justice Eric J. Gustafson sentenced Joshua A. Barrett, 25, of 74 Ames St., Massena, to 30 days in the county jail for an attempted petit larceny conviction.

He had been charged with petit larceny after putting $20 worth of gasoline in his vehicle on Oct. 5, 2012 at Stewart’s on North Main Street and then driving off without paying for the fuel. Police apprehended Barrett a short time later after being provided with information about the vehicle that led them to the Massena man.

St. Lawrence County Assistant Conflict Public Defender Sean R. McDermott asked the court to adjourn sentencing, noting his client had decided he wanted to hire his own attorney. Mr. Gustafson, after noting Barrett had failed to appear for two scheduled pre-sentence interviews with the probation department since entering his guilty plea to the reduced count in April, denied the request for the adjournment.

The probation department, in a memorandum to the court, noted it had mailed Barrett a letter on May 24 informing him his pre-sentence interview had been scheduled for June 21. They said Barrett failed to appear for that appointment and did not contact the probation department to reschedule it.

They said a second letter was sent to Barrett scheduling an interview for July 1, and Barrett contacted his probation officer on June 25 to confirm the time and date of that appointment and to ask if there was any documentation he should bring with him to the interview. But they said Barrett again failed to appear for his scheduled appointment.

Barrett told the court one of the letters had arrived three days after he was supposed to have met with probation for the psi.

He asked the court not to sentence him to jail, noting he had full-time employment. He told the village justice he was self employed operated Barrett’s Landscaping. “I have many clients,” he noted.

Barrett asked the judge to consider a weekend sentence if he felt incarceration was a necessity.

“If you were new here, I might have a different take on it. There are a combination of things I take into consideration when I am looking at a sentence,” Mr. Gustafson told Barrett.

He said that review convinced him Barrett should be sentenced to 30 days in jail, not as an intermittent sentence. But Mr. Gustafson had given Barrett 72 hours to get his business affairs in order before reporting to the county correctional facility.

He also ordered Barrett to pay a $205 surcharge and a $50 fee to submit a DNA sample to the state database if one was not already on file. The surcharge was reduced to a civil judgment.

In other recent court action before Judge Gustafson:

■ Dennis J. Burns, 37, of 946 County Route 27, Oswegatchie, was sentenced to 30 days in the county jail and was ordered to pay a $205 surcharge, which was reduced to civil judgment, for an attempted petit larceny conviction.

Village police had charged Burnsand Ronald J. Dancause, 45, of 1920 County Route 27, Russell, with petit larceny at 7:07 p.m. Dec. 10 following a shoplifting incident at Walmart. Dancause reportedly walked past the last point of sale without paying for four undisclosed items, while Burns was in possession of a headlamp flashlight, sunglasses, a filet knife and two pairs of MX gloves. Police said the value of Burns’ merchandise was $112.48.

Mr. McDermott noted his client disagreed with the probation department’s recommendation that he be sentenced to jail time. “He feels if he was placed on probation he would have a better opportunity to address the concerns of the court,” Burns’s attorney said.

Mr. Gustafson handed down the jail sentence. “You have a long and varied criminal history,” he told the Oswegatchie man. “Mr. Burns, you have had your opportunities with probation in the past.”

■ John H. Dashnaw, 55, of Ogdensburg, was classified as a Level 1 sex offender, the classification for offenders deemed a low risk to commit another sex crime. He was convicted of second-degree sexual abuse.

Dashnaw had been accused of having sexual contact with a 15-year-old female several years ago. Dashnaw, in the statement he provided to police at the time of his arrest, had suggested it was simply an accident. He said he had fallen asleep and woke up to discover he was touching the intimate parts of a female. “When I was fully awake and realized this was not my girlfriend, I pulled my hand away,” he suggested in his statement.

Other witnesses had filed statements casting aspersions on Dashnaw’s claims of innocence.

Defense attorney Marcia L. LeMay, whose client came to his sexual offense registry hearing wearing his “Whose your daddy?” tee-shirt, told the court Dashnaw had committed no further offenses since his arrest several years ago on the sexual abuse charge.

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