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Winthrop man, long-time community volunteer, sentenced to 60 days in jail for vehicular assault

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CANTON— Despite receiving more than 10 letters and a petition with 80 signatures pleading that a 79-year-old Winthrop man be spared jail time, Judge Jerome J. Richards sentenced him Monday to 60 days in the St. Lawrence Country jail.

James L. Thompson, who pleaded guilty to felony second-degree vehicular assault and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated on May 22, also was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine in St. Lawrence County Court.

“If you were anybody else — a 20-year-old, a 30-year-old, a 40-year-old— would they be going to jail? The answer to that is undoubtedly yes,” Judge Richards said. “So the only thing, as you stand here this morning, in your favor for you not to go to jail is your age. And I don’t think that’s enough.”

Mr. Thompson struck a motorcyclist while driving on Route 11C in the town of Stockholm in May 2010, leaving the victim wheelchair-bound for 90 days, according to Assistant District Attorney Joshua Haberkornhalm.

“There’s only one person whose life will never be the same after this incident and that’s the victim,” Mr. Haberkornhalm told Judge Richards. “I would ask the court to strongly consider jail time.”

Several letters were written on behalf of Mr. Thompson, a long-time volunteer firefighter with the Brasher-Winthrop Volunteer Fire Department, and signatures from residents of Tennessee, Indiana, California and Ohio, among other states, were collected on a petition.

“Please do not send James Thompson to prison. This is his first offense. He has not driven in two years ... he is a good family man and friend. He does not deserve additional punishment,” according to the petition, which the judge read in court.

Those signatures, however, would have been more influential if they had come from locals, Judge Richards said.

“I have a suspicion that those people don’t have a good idea of what you did,” he said.

In other St. Lawrence County Court cases Monday:

Scott Briggs, 44, of 43 Johnstown St., Gouverneur, who pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary July 11, had his plea vacated by Judge Richards and was sent to jail without bail.

Mr. Briggs is accused of forcing a door open and entering Stephanie Sawyer’s home at 42 Smith St. in February 2011, then choking Robert Rathbun once inside.

In a statement after pleading guilty, Mr. Briggs said he didn’t intend to commit a felony when he allegedly opened the home’s door, which caused Judge Richards to vacate the plea.

The second-degree burglary charge, as well as a criminal obstruction of breathing charge that was dismissed as part of the plea agreement, were reinstated, but no trial date was set.

Heidi N. Perez, 29, of 8 Pink Schoolhouse Road, Canton, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor second-degree scheme to defraud. She was sentenced to three years’ probation, and given credit for one year already successfully completed.

Ms. Perez pleaded guilty to felony first-degree scheme to defraud on July 7, 2011, and was sentenced to interim probation with an opportunity to have the felony charge vacated.

Judge Richards determined she had earned the reduction, and Ms. Perez pleaded to the misdemeanor charge.

She originally was accused of writing 17 bad checks to 12 businesses in Canton, Potsdam, Russell and Waddington. The checks totaled more than $3,000.

Cassandra L. Premo, 23, of 147 Belmont Courts, Ogdensburg, was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to pay $188.08 in restitution.

Ms. Premo, who pleaded guilty May 23 to fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, was accused of selling cocaine in October 2010 in Ogdensburg.

Robert J. Donnelly, 30, of 49 Brighton St., Massena, pleaded not guilty to two counts of third-degree burglary and two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, all felonies.

Mr. Donnelly is accused of entering the Potsdam Moose Lodge on Dec. 2 with Kyle A. LaMay, 27, of 771 Hammill Road, and leaving with $1,108. He’s also accused of stealing two televisions, a computer, a Cat-5 cable and two bottles of shampoo on Dec. 6 from Walmart in Potsdam.

He faces up to 26 years in state prison if convicted.

Christopher Bomberry, 45, Salamanca, was sentenced to five years’ probation. He pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal possession of marijuana on May 22.

Mr. Bomberry was accused of possessing 4 pounds or marijuana during a traffic stop June 30, 2011, in the town of Pitcairn.

Christopher J. Kocienski, 39, of 1859 Route 420, Norfolk, was brought to court on allegations that he’d violated his probation by not reporting as directed, paying $50 of an ordered $803 in restitution and failing to let officers know he’d changed addresses in early June.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance in 2010 and was sentenced to five years’ probation.

Sentencing was adjourned until Aug. 28 so Mr. Kocienski could obtain legal representation.

He additionally was arrested and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor, and unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation, on Friday when he was picked up on the county court warrant.

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