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Lawsuit filed against district attorney

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CANTON — Controversy regarding a June misdemeanor drug charge plea has led to a lawsuit filed against the St. Lawrence County district attorney.

Zachary D. Linsky, 19, of Norwood, is accusing District Attorney Nicole M. Duvé and Assistant District Attorney Jonathan L. Becker of bringing charges against him precluded by double jeopardy.

Mr. Linsky, through the public defender’s office and his attorney, Steven G. Ballan, filed an Article 78 action June 27.

Mr. Linsky and Lamarion J. Blanks Jr., 18, of Brooklyn, were stopped June 2 in Potsdam and accused of possessing 250 Ecstasy pills and a small amount of marijuana.

They were both charged with second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, an A-II felony carrying heavier penalties.

However, Mr. Linsky’s second-degree felony charge was dismissed by Potsdam Village Justice Nicholas Pignone after prosecutors failed to provide the weight of the Ecstasy pills during Mr. Linsky’s hearing, though they did—about 74 grams—during Mr. Blanks’s arraignment.

Mr. Linsky then pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of misdemeanor seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, along with unlawful possession of marijuana, no head lamp and unsafe lane change, at the June 7 preliminary hearing. He could be sentenced up to one year in county jail for those crimes.

After a court-ordered presentence investigation, Ms. Duvé scheduled another grand jury proceeding for June 28, seeking to charge Mr. Linsky with second-degree conspiracy and second-degree attempted sale of a controlled substance.

That proceeding was postponed because Mr. Linsky countered by filing the Article 78 a day earlier. No new grand jury proceeding has been scheduled.

The conspiracy and attempted sale charges, Mr. Linsky alleges in the lawsuit, arise from the same “criminal transaction” to which he pleaded guilty June 7. In the lawsuit, his attorneys state that the district attorney’s office “is engaging in activities outside the scope of their lawful authority” by bringing the new charges against him. Ms. Duvé didn’t respond to a request seeking comment, and Mr. Becker declined to comment.

While exceptions to the double jeopardy policy exist, Mr. Linsky alleges that the conspiracy and attempted sale charges are neither “substantially different” nor “clearly distinguishable” from the criminal possession charge originally brought against him.

Mr. Linsky is seeking to permanently stay the grand jury presentation and asking for an unspecified amount of money from the district attorney’s office for “engaging in frivolous conduct and initiating proceedings and correspondence with an intent to harass and maliciously injure.”

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