Supreme Court upholds St. Lawrence County Court decisions

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The state Supreme Court last week denied a Massena woman’s appeal of a 2016 prison sentence for drug possession.

On May 2, 2016, Tina L. Savage, 49, an inmate at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, Westchester County, formerly of 9815 Route 56, Lot 109, Massena, was sentenced as a second-felony drug offender to six years in prison and three years of post-release supervision after being convicted of felony third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with a judicial mandate for shock incarceration.

On March 10, 2014, in the village of Massena, Ms. Savage possessed the narcotic drug fentanyl with the intent to sell it.

According to a Feb. 1 decision of the state Supreme Court Appellate Division Third Judicial Department, Ms. Savage had entered a plea agreement with St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards whereby she would plead guilty to the charge and participate in the Judicial Diversion Program and, if successful, be placed on up to two years of probation to earn a final sentence of five years of probation.

If unsuccessful, she faced up to 12 years in prison followed by three years of post-release supervision.

In addition, she had waived her right to appeal.

Ms. Savage later violated her probation and was terminated from the judicial diversion program and sentenced to the prison sentence she is currently serving.

The appellate court denied Ms. Savage’s appeal that claimed the sentence imposed was harsh and excessive.

“We therefore find that defendant’s combined oral and written waiver of the right to appeal was valid,” The decision read.

“In light of defendant’s valid waiver, her challenge to the severity of the sentence imposed is precluded, as she was informed of the maximum prison sentence that could be imposed should she violate the conditions of the plea agreement and fail to complete the judicial diversion program.

In other appellate decisions, the court on Jan. 25 agreed with Judge Richards’s April 11, 2016, resentence of John L. Murdie Jr., 31, last known address 22 Glasby Road, Gouverneur, to five years in prison for two counts of felony third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, to be served under parole supervision.

On Dec. 12 and 13, 2011, in the town of Gouverneur, Mr. Murdie sold oxycodone.

At the time of sentencing, Judge Richards said Mr. Murdie had violated the terms and conditions of the court’s Judicial Diversion Program by unsuccessfully completing treatment.

The purpose of the program, Judge Richards said, was to allow Mr. Murdie to work through his addiction with an opportunity to avoid prison.

At the time of his original May 22 sentencing, Mr. Murdie was mistakenly sentenced by Judge Richards as a second-felony offender.

Mr. Murdie successfully appealed that he was not a second-felony offender, leading to last Monday’s resentencing.

In addition to his prison sentence, Mr. Murdie was sentenced to two years of post-release supervision.

The court disagreed with Mr. Murdie’s argument that the resentence imposed is harsh and excessive.

“(W)e cannot say that County Court abused its discretion in resentencing defendant in the middle of the permissible sentencing range or that defendant has presented any extraordinary circumstances that would warrant a reduction of the sentence in the interest of justice,” the court ruled.

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