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Charges dismissed against NYC man due to potential prejudice

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CANTON — The charges against a New York City man indicted on multiple felonies related to drug sales in Ogdensburg have been dismissed by St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards.

Joseph A. Peterkin, 32, of Brooklyn, was indicted by a St. Lawrence County grand jury on Aug. 30 for two counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. All four charges are class B felonies.

But those charges were dismissed Monday when Judge Richards determined that the testimony to a St. Lawrence County grand jury by Ogdensburg Police Narcotics Enforcement Detective Daniel C. Mousaw provided information about an uncharged crime which might have swayed the jury to indict Mr. Peterkin.

All four counts against Mr. Peterkin involved an alleged sale of cocaine to one of two confidential informants who made wired buys in the city on March 19, and April 30.

Judge Richard wrote, in his issued dismissal of the counts, that Detective Mousaw testified about a totally separate unindicted crime “involving drugs found in the execution of a search warrant on May 30.” St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole M. Duve said after she heard about how the evidence played out through the testimony of Detective Mousaw, Assistant District Attorney Andrew T. Botts, who was handling the case, had a change in heart about the testimony.

“The ADA made a determination that it was not sufficient to warrant asking the grand jury to consider an additional charge in an effort to be fair to the defendant,” Ms. Duve said. “He instructed the grand jury to disregard that bit of evidence.”

Judge Richards wrote in his dismissal that this instruction did not purge the error and that grand jurors still asked questions about the uncharged crime.

“The court held that the instruction couldn’t have cured the potential for prejudice to the deliberation on the other charges they were asked to consider,” Ms. Duve said.

The case will be presented without that prejudicial evidence to a new grand jury, Ms. Duve said.

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