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Gun-waving Hannawa Falls teen faces more counts after breaking probation

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CANTON — The Hannawa Falls teen jailed last month for violating the probation to which he was sentenced after bringing a rifle to the Colton-Pierrepont Central School campus in March was resentenced to probation Thursday in St. Lawrence County Court.

In a plea deal with the county district attorney’s office, Sawyer M. Pignona, 17, of 96 Postwood Road, will have to restart his one year of interim probation.

Mr. Pignona was arrested by state police on Feb. 21 and charged with sexual misconduct, first-degree unlawfully dealing with a child and endangering the welfare of a child, all misdemeanors. He is scheduled to answer those charges in April in Pierrepont Town Court.

Following the arrest, troopers brought him before County Judge Jerome J. Richards, who sent him to the county jail, Canton, where he was held until Thursday.

On Sept. 30, Judge Richards placed Mr. Pignona and co-defendant Connor I. Warden, 17, of 19 Sisson St., Potsdam, on one year of interim probation for criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds, a class E felony. Mr. Pignona also was charged with second-degree menacing after he and Mr. Warden went to Colton-Pierrepont school on March 18 and Mr. Pignona brandished the weapon from a car window, sending the school into lockdown.

Thursday’s plea deal to release Mr. Pignona under a resentencing of interim probation came despite a recommendation from the county probation department that he should remain in jail pending a chemical dependency evaluation.

In a three-page memorandum from probation officials, Judge Richards said Mr. Pignona had attempted to arrange for the purchase and use of drugs and was accused of having sex with minors, consuming alcohol and providing alcohol to minors during a party at his father’s home while he was out of town.

“While you were in jail, you told your father ‘I’m just trying to be a teenager. They just catch me being a teenager and this is what happens,’” Judge Richards said. “I have a 63-page printout from your cellphone where you discuss your behavior and activities.”

After a meeting at the bench and a 10-minute meeting in chambers with Assistant District Attorney Joshua A. HaberkornHalm and Mr. Pignona’s attorney, Anthony M. Neddo, Judge Richards questioned the teen about his behavior.

“You think this is teenage behavior?” Judge Richards asked.

In a murmur, Mr. Pignona said he “supposed” not all of his behavior was appropriate.

“Do you think your father approves that you used his house? You don’t respect your father enough to not do these things?” Judge Richards asked him.

“I do respect him,” Mr. Pignona said.

“That’s pretty hard to believe,” Judge Richards quickly replied.

Judge Richards told the teen that he would be placed under more strict conditions of probation, including a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, a chemical dependency evaluation and participating in any treatment suggested following the evaluation.

The plea deal also requires Mr. Pignona to spend six months of weekends in jail following his Pierrepont Town Court date.

Judge Richards adjourned Mr. Pignona’s final sentencing to Feb. 23.

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