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Judge vacates marijuana possession plea, others sentenced

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CANTON - Judge Jerome J. Richards adjudicated a Malone man as a youthful offender Monday and vacated his conviction for possessing 22 pounds of marijuana.

Philip A. Sharpe III, 19, of 243 McGillic Road, pleaded guilty in April to second-degree criminal possession of marijuana in May 2011 in the town of Stockholm. He was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to attain his general equivalency degree within one year.

Judge Richards admitted to Mr. Sharpe that, while growing up, he was involved in similar trafficking behavior. “Had I been caught then, I might still be in prison,” he noted.

The judge also vowed to make future sentences for those convicted of possessing more than 10 pounds of marijuana more harsh. He warned Mr. Sharpe that he “slid under the change.”

In other cases on Monday:

Ernest W. Brothers, 39, of 524 Covington St., Ogdensburg, pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny, a class-D felony. He was released under probation supervision and will be sentenced on Sept. 24.

If he complies with the probation terms, Mr. Brothers will be sentenced to probation and ordered to pay $15,742.69 in restitution. If not, he faces up to seven years in prison.

Mr. Brothers, an ex-driver for Econo Fuels Inc., was accused of never delivering $12,000 worth of fuel and falsifying business records. He was indicted in November 2011.

Brothersallegedly tampered with ticket numbers for fuel deliveries and used 4,445 gallons of fuel used in construction equipment from August to October 2011 to Alcoa, according to court documents.

Massena-based state police said in March Brothers falsified business records on several occasions by signing Econo Fuels delivery tickets for fuel that had not been delivered to customers.

Brothers claimed to have made several deliveries of diesel fuel to Alcoa East, including 475.1 and 175 gallons on Aug. 10; 500 and 200 gallons on Aug. 19; 225 and 450 gallons of on Aug. 26; 550 and 230 gallons on Sept. 23; and 200 and 500 gallons on Oct. 15

He also claimed to have off-loaded 950.3 gallons of diesel fuel at Econo Fuels on Sept. 10. The fuel had a value of $2,718.81, court documents noted.

The grand larceny charges stem from thefts that occurred between Aug. 10 and Oct. 15, when Brothers reported delivering fuel to Alcoa East but instead off-loaded it at an unknown location. On Sept. 10, he also reportedly claimed he had off-loaded fuel at Econo Fuels in the village of Massena, but instead off-loaded it at an unknown location.

The estimated value of that fuel was $9,797.22, according to court documents. Michael B. Darling, part owner of Econo Fuels, told police in a statement that he became suspicious after receiving a call from Alcoa on Sept. 27 telling him they had run out of diesel fuel. Mr. Darling said he reviewed his records and video from the Alcoa East front gate and determined that Brothers had not signed in or out of Alcoa on any of the dates when he was reportedly making deliveries.

Brothers, in his statement to police, denied the allegations. He told state police investigators he had delivered the fuel to Alcoa. Brothers said the guards had frequently waved him through the gate without making him sign in.

“I did deliver the fuel to Alcoa. I mostly went in through the construction gate ... because it was easier for me, and most of the time I did not sign in for the same reason,” he said in his statement.

“I have been going through financial problems lately and did borrow some money from Mike to help make my truck payment. If I was selling fuel on my own, I wouldn’t be borrowing money from anybody. I also could have made more money this summer on unemployment, but I felt like I wanted to do Mike a favor for loaning me to the money so I decided to work for him through the summer, which is our slow time,” he added in his statement.

William P. Sapoff, 20, of 304 E. Main St., Gouverneur, was sentenced to one year of probation. He pleaded guilty on April 19 to fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class-E felony.

Mr. Sapoff and two other men were pulled over on County Route 25 in March. A K9 helped officers locate one pound of hallucinogenic mushrooms stored in the vehicle’s trunk.

Randy A. Smart, 26, of Fulton was sentenced to five years’ probation after pleading guilty April 17 to third-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Mr. Smart was pulled over and found with 10 pounds of marijuana on Route 310 in March 2011.

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