By RYNE R. MARTIN
CANTON - A former Potsdam convenience store clerk has been sentenced to probation for his role in the robbery of a store patron in the early morning hours of Nov. 13.
St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards sentenced Kyle J. Neuroth, 22, of 182 state Route 345, Potsdam, to a probationary term of three years and ordered him to pay $200 in surcharges an fees and $99 in restitution for his misdemeanor fifth-degree conspiracy conviction. He was represented by attorney Rosemary Phillips.
Potsdam Village Police had charged Nicole Meunier, 26, of Massena and Ronald L. Freeman, 24, of Massena with second-degree robbery and fourth-degree conspiracy and Neuroth with fourth-degree conspiracy in connection with a robbery outside a Potsdam convenience store. Meunier is awaiting sentencing on a third-degree atempted robbery conviction in county court from that same incident.
Neuroth was an employee at the A Plus Sunoco station in Potsdam and on duty when Eric J. Lazore of Raymondville was allegedly robbed by Freeman and Meunier.
They reportedly forced Mr. Lazore to the ground during the incident at 3:50 a.m. Nov. 13 and stole his wallet, which contained $90 in cash, miscellaneous change and Subway, Price Chopper and Kinney Drugs cards.
Mr. Lazore, in a statement he provided police, said he went into the Sunoco store and purchased a pack of cigarettes with a $100 bill in the early morning hours of Nov. 13. He said he then waited at the store for a taxi to pick him up to take him to his home in Raymondville.
He told police he had noticed two people inside the store when he entered the building - the store clerk and a skinny male wearing his hat backwards.
The worker was behind the counter and the skinny guy was sitting on the counter between the two sections of the counter, he recalled.
Mr. Lazore said while he was waiting for his taxi he went outside to smoke a cigarette. He said after he smoked his cigarette, he went over by the garbage can in case he got sick.
He told police a blonde woman he knew as Nikki exited a vehicle, approached him and gave him a hug before entering the store.
A few moments later she came back out and ran out and jumped on me and took me down to the ground. It was at that time someone took my wallet, Mr. Lazore told police.
Prior to sentencing, Judge Richards noted he had been concerned by some of the statements attributed to Neuroth in the pre-sentence report. He pointed out the report indicated Neuroth said he had entered the guilty plea on the advice of counsel because he was being given an opportunity to plead guilty to a misdemeanor rather than a felony. He also stated he was not clear why he was even charged, the county court judge added, saying Neuroth said he would have come to the victims assistance if he knew he was about to be robbed.
I can vacate your plea. We can have a trial. The jury can decide if you are guilty ... or if you were involved in this crime you can tell me. Im perfectly willing to bring in a jury, and you can live by their decision, Judge Richard said.
I did know what was going to happen, Neuroth quickly responded.
You helped plan it. You had conversations that are on the videotape, Judge Richards interjected.
Yes, the Potsdam man admitted.
Ms. Phillips had encouraged the court to follow the terms of the plea bargain agreement despite Neuroths comments to the probation officer and his Aug. 21 arrest for petit larceny.
He has cooperated with substance abuse counseling. I can see changes in his behavior, but he still has a ways to go. Hes not a bad guy. Probation supervision is the best place for him, she argued.