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Tue., Oct. 6
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Judge reinstates Linsky sentencing


CANTON — Judge Kathleen M. Rogers on Thursday reinstated the misdemeanor sentencing for Zachary D. Linsky, rejecting an Article 78 proceeding filed by St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole M. Duvé.

Ms. Duvé was seeking to have the misdemeanor dismissed and a felony drug possession charge reinstated.

Mr. Linsky, 19, Norwood, who originally faced a felony drug charge stemming from an early June traffic stop, pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge June 6 before Potsdam Village Justice Nicholas Pignone.

“This court has no authority to take back that plea,” Judge Rogers said.

The reduction to a misdemeanor came after prosecutors failed to provide the weight of drugs Mr. Linsky allegedly was in possession of, setting off the chain of events resulting in the appeals dismissed Thursday by Judge Rogers.

Mr. Linsky and Lamarion J. Blanks Jr., 18, of Brooklyn, were accused of possessing 250 Ecstasy pills and a small amount of marijuana found at the traffic stop, and both were charged with second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a felony.

Justice Pignone scheduled separate June 6 hearings for the men, and Assistant District Attorney Andrew Botts’s failure to provide the 74-gram weight of the pills at Mr. Linsky’s arraignment resulted in the reduction.

Mr. Linsky quickly pleaded to a misdemeanor charge of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

On Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Jonathan L. Becker claimed the hearings were separated illegally. The court abused its power and ruled arbitrarily, he said.

“Had the hearings been together, it would have been absolutely clear that the defendants had committed the AII felony together,” Mr. Becker said.

Judge Rogers, however, found no proof that the defendants had or should have been joined together under one hearing, and dismissed the prosecution’s motion. She said Judge Pignone, who came under fire by the prosecution, had done nothing wrong.

Public Defender Stephen D. Button argued that Mr. Botts had several opportunities to object to the reduction at the June 6 hearing or seek a grand jury indictment, which would have stayed the process, but failed to do so.

Judge Rogers agreed, but dismissed the defense’s motion for matching $10,000 sanctions against both Ms. Duvé, who was not at Thursday’s hearings, and Mr. Becker.

In a lawsuit filed by Mr. Linsky through the Public Defender’s office June 27, the defense alleged that by scheduling a second grand jury proceeding for June 28, the prosecution was bringing charges against Mr. Linsky precluded by double jeopardy and “trying to take two bites out of the same apple.” Ms. Duvé sought to charge Mr. Linsky with second-degree conspiracy and second-degree attempted sale of a controlled substance, but postponed the hearing when the lawsuit was filed a day before.

Mr. Becker indicated Thursday the prosecution plans to appeal Judge Rogers’s ruling, asking for a written version of the decision before leaving the courtroom.

The defense will ask for Mr. Linsky’s sentencing to be completed as soon as possible.

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