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Former Norwood man sentenced to prison for violating probation

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CANTON — A former Norwood man was sentenced to prison Monday in St. Lawrence County Court for violating his probation sentence.

Mathew J. Despaw, 33, of North Carolina, formerly of 3209 County Route 47, Norwood, was resentenced to 2 to 6 years in prison for felony driving while intoxicated.

Mr. Despaw originally pleaded guilty to an Oct. 8, 2009, DWI after he was stopped on Bridge Road in the town of Potsdam by St. Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies and refused a breath test. He had two previous DWI convictions in the last 10 years at that time.

St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards sentenced Mr. Despaw on April 25, 2011, to time served in county jail and five years’ probation. On Monday, Judge Richards vacated that sentence after Mr. Despaw’s June 12 DWI and unlicensed operator arrest in North Carolina. Mr. Despaw was sentenced in North Carolina on that charge, but failed to report the arrest, resulting in the violation.

Judge Richards scolded Mr. Despaw on Monday, saying that this was his fifth or sixth DWI and that he showed no regard for the court as he appeared and also tested positive for cocaine.

“This is not the first time you have been placed on probation in North Carolina,” Judge Richards said, shaking his head. “I don’t know what to say to you.”

In addition to his prison sentence, Mr. Despaw was sentenced to a three-year conditional discharge, was ordered to pay $850 in fines, fees and surcharges, had his driver’s license revoked and will have to install an ignition interlock device in his vehicle for one year when his license is returned.

In other court action Monday:

James A. Pierce, 52, of 1700 County Route 53, Brasher Falls, was sentenced to six months in St. Lawrence County jail and five years’ probation after admitting to violating his five-year probation sentence given April 11, 2011, for second-degree criminal possession of marijuana, a class D felony.

On Feb. 24, Mr. Pierce was charged by state police with third-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon after he went to a neighboring home to visit an ex-girlfriend and got into a dispute with another man who lives at the address, cutting him on the leg with a utility knife and causing a minor injury. Those charges were satisfied in court Monday under Mr. Pierce’s admission.

Joshua A. Pitts, 28, of 7 Pink School House Road, Pyrites, admitted to violating his Sept. 17, 2012, five-year probation sentence for third-degree burglary.

Mr. Pitts told Judge Richards that he failed to report to probation as directed on multiple occasions, missed chemical dependency meetings and tested positive for opiates and Suboxone. He also failed to make scheduled restitution payments.

Mr. Pitts was returned to St. Lawrence County jail, where he is being held awaiting a chemical dependency referral for inpatient treatment.

Brian N. Gray, 31, of 49 Maple St., Lot 1, Massena, was returned to County Court on a warrant after allegedly violating his July 6, 2009, five-year probation sentence for fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Mr. Gray was charged Feb. 4 by state police with third-degree grand larceny and petit larceny for alleged improper use of a credit card belonging to Danko Construction.

Judge Richards entered a denial to the charge on Mr. Gray’s behalf as he was without counsel and adjourned the matter to April 8. He was returned to St. Lawrence County jail, where he is being held without bail.

Gregory A. Dunning, 30, last known address 82 Snell Road, Colton, had his probation sentence for driving while ability impaired by drugs continued Monday after successfully completing inpatient treatment at Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam.

On Sept. 8, 2010, Mr. Dunning smoked marijuana before driving a motorcycle. Troopers stopped him on County Route 22 in the town of Rossie. He has two drunken-driving convictions within the past 10 years, troopers said.

Mr. Dunning’s probation was extended to Sept. 18, 2017.

Morgan E.B. Hastings, 44, of 67 Waverly St., Potsdam, had his Jan. 14, 2013, guilty plea to a felony DWI vacated after successfully completing one year of probation supervision.

It was suggested by probation that in addition to pleading guilty to a lesser misdemeanor DWI charge, Mr. Hastings be placed on three years’ probation with one year credit. However, St. Lawrence County Public Defender Stephen D. Button said Mr. Hastings should be sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge due to duress by a former member of the St. Lawrence County district attorney’s office.

Mr. Button told Judge Richards that, while still employed by the county, former Assistant District Attorney Jonathan L. Becker visited Mr. Hastings at his home and told him he wouldn’t have to worry about checking in with probation on weekends in an attempt to trip Mr. Hastings up and make him violate probation.

“Mr. Becker also contacted Mr. Hastings’s girlfriend and advised her to leave him due to the pending felony,” Mr. Button told Judge Richards.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua A. HaberkornHalm said he was unaware of Mr. Becker’s actions and said he took over the case because Mr. Becker had a “close relationship with a family member.”

“He was not supposed to have contact with Mr. Hastings,” Mr. HaberkornHalm told Judge Richards. “So the people would not oppose a conditional discharge.”

Judge Richards granted the one-year conditional discharge and ordered Mr. Hastings to pay $1,145 in court fines, fees and surcharges.

Christina L. Dent, 45, of 1700 County Route 25, Lot 17, Canton, was sentenced to time served in jail and five years’ probation after her April 1, 2013, guilty plea to driving while ability impaired by drugs.

On Sept. 23, 2012, Ms. Dent was involved in a property-damage accident in the town of Canton. Police said she took a wide turn onto County Route 25, entering the oncoming lane and brushing against another vehicle, causing minor damage to her own car. In her attempt to back up, she drifted off the road and her vehicle hit a fence. She had a suspended license from a prior DWI conviction.

In addition to her probation sentence, Ms. Dent was ordered to pay $1,570.

Matthew J. Seaver, 31, of 1427 County Route 47, Winthrop, was sentenced to five years’ probation after his March 6, 2012, guilty plea to felony criminal possession of marijuana after failing to complete one year of interim probation successfully.

Had he completed probation successfully, he would have been afforded an opportunity to plead to a misdemeanor and given one year of credit for probation, bringing his sentence down to four years.

Judge Richards cited failure to report to probation, leaving mental health treatment without permission and multiple arrests including an Aug. 12, 2012 DWI in the town of Stockholm.

He had a blood alcohol content of 0.17 percent, more than twice the legal limit.

In addition to his probation sentence, Mr. Seaver was ordered to pay $2,375 in fines, fees and surcharges.

In court action Friday:

Jebadiah J. Brenno, 30, of 164 Lee Road, Ogdensburg, was sentenced to 4 years in prison after his guilty plea to the class D felony of second-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

The plea satisfied all original charges which, along with the felony marijuana charge, included second-degree kidnapping, first-degree unlawful imprisonment, third-degree assault, second-degree menacing and two counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief.

On Feb. 19, 2013, Mr. Brenno allegedly locked Emily Ives, his girlfriend at the time, in a bedroom during an attack in which he threatened to kill her, kicked her jaw multiple times and urinated on her.

When troopers went to arrest him, he was found in possession of more than 4 pounds of marijuana.

Besides his prison sentence, Mr. Brenno was sentenced to two years of post-release parole and ordered to pay $375 in court fines, fees and surcharges. Judge Richards also issued an order of protection for 14 years.

A request for restitution of $1,800 was denied by the court. The court recommended Mr. Brenno for any and all programs while in prison.

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