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Judge denies motion to lower Tassie’s bail

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MASSENA - A Massena man charged with sexually assaulting a woman in her mid 80s in her home three years ago was sent back to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility with bail continued at $100,000 following a brief appearance in Massena Village Court.

Village police charged Jason D. Tassie, 29, of 8 Tracy St. with first-degree burglary and second-degree aggravated sexual abuse for his alleged role in the Aug. 8, 2009 attack.

Mr. Tassie’s attorney, Mark Snider, urged Acting Massena Village Justice James M. Crandall to reduce Tassie’s bail. He argued Tassie, a Massena native and homeowner who is engaged and the father of a one year old and four year old, his client was not a flight risk. Mr. Snider added Tassie is employed as a cook at a Main Street restaurant and said his employer had agreed to take his client back if he was released from jail.

“It’s his employment that pays the mortgage at that home,” Mr. Snider said, adding his client doesn’t have “any serious criminal background. He can’t leave his children. He can’t leave his employment and he can’t leave this country. He is not going anywhere,” Mr. Snider said.

St. Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Botts said he was opposed to any reduction in the bail amount, which currently stands at $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond.

“The people strongly and unequivocally oppose any reduction in bail,” he said, citing the nature of the crimes and the age of the victim, who still lives in Massena.

Prior to making his decision, Judge Crandall explained that the maximum sentence for either of the two felonies Mr. Tassie is facing is 15 years in prison. He also noted that prior to the most recent contact with the criminal justice system Tassie had been arrested six times.

“What the court notes is Mr. Tassie is not a beginner,” he said. “Although Mr. Snider makes a very decent argument, the fact remains anyone who is facing 15 years in prison is a flight risk.”

As the close of Tuesday’s appearance, which was originally scheduled as a preliminary hearing, a right that Mr. Tassie waived, Mr. Snider recused himself from the case, noting he knows the victim in this case.

“There is a real victim in this case,” he said. “Whether or not she is the victim of Mr. Tassie is the question.”

Mr. Snider explained the relationship by noting the victim went to school with his father and pointed out he had spoken with her as recently as last week.

“It’s not a conflict, but it doesn’t look good,” he said.

The case was sent up to county court for possible grand jury action.

Police have said a recently submitted DNA sample for another criminal conviction connected the Massena man to the August 2009 sexual assault.

Police Chief Timmy J. Currier said the case demonstrated the value of DNA evidence. “As technology has evolved, law enforcement has improved our use of it. Victims of cases like this one have a greater chance in seeing justice done. This case illustrates just that. Thankfully this crime will not go unsolved, and this defendant can now be held accountable for this despicable act,” he said.

Massena Village Police Investigator Joseph W. Brown said evidence collected at the time of the attack had been placed in the DNA data base. He said Tassie had recently submitted DNA evidence for a November 2006 conviction for second-degree menacing.

“That sample was also entered into the data base and within the last week we were notified they had discovered a match between the John Doe sample submitted in 2009 and the offender sample recently obtained from Mr. Tassie,” he said.

Police said at the time of the incident the womanwas alone in her home shortly before 10 p.m. Aug. 8, 2009, a Saturday, when an assailant entered her unlocked residence and assaulted her.

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