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Former Massena man sentenced to more time in state prison

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CANTON - A former Massena man’s attorney was unsuccessful in his effort to have the time his client in served in prison on an unrelated conviction credited as time served for a drug possession conviction.

St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards sentenced James Waite Jr., 45, listing an address of 259 Center St., Massena, at the time of his last arrest, to two years in state prison followed by one year of post-release supervision for a second-degree criminal possession of marijuana conviction. He was also ordered to pay $375 in fees and surcharges, which will be reduced from his prison earnings, and had restitution of $6,802 reduced to civil judgment.

St. Lawrence County Public Defender Steven D. Button noted Waite has been incarcerated since his Sept. 30, 2011 arrest on the marijuana possession count and was sent back to state prison on Oct. 6, 2011 in a previous fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property conviction. He argued Judge Richards had only released Waite under the supervision of the probation department on the marijuana charge on June 18.

Judge Richards said the latest prison sentence would run concurrently with Waite’s existing sentence but rejected efforts to grant him credit for additional time served in custody.

Waite was previously sentenced to 1 1/4 to 3 3/4 years in state prison for the stolen property conviction. His conditional release date on that conviction is Dec. 1, 2013. Mr. Button said Waite also owes the state of Rhode Island two years and eight months when he is released by the New York state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

The former Massena man told the court he has made positive strides since being incarcerated. He said he was one of 13 inmates that completed a drug treatment court from a class that initially included 60 inmates.

“I’m just trying to move forward and do better in life,” he said, suggesting he had benefitted from the substance abuse treatment program. “I realize I need to change.”

But Judge Richards wasn’t moved by the arguments made by Waite or his attorney. He suggested Waite’s involvement in the drug program was simply an attempt to shave some time off his prison sentences.

“Mr. Waite has an outrageous criminal history. On his original conviction, he had an opportunity to avoid prison. He failed. He committed this offense while he was on interim probation,” he noted.

“This is now about punishment, letting Mr. Waite know he has to accept the consequences of his behavior. I’ve never seen someone work so hard not to comply with interim probation,” the county court judge added.

Waite and a co-defendant had been charged with second-degree criminal possession of marijuana. They are accused of possessing more than one pound of marijuana on Elliot Road. They were reportedly carrying pot plants, with a combined weight of 1 1/2 pounds, out of a wooded area off Elliot Road in the town of Potsdam.

The stolen property count stemmed from a July 2009 incident when he was charged with possessing more than $1,000 worth of tattoo equipment - a thermoface tattoo machine, an autoclave tattoo machine and three boxes of tattoo needles - that he knew were stolen from Old Tyme Tattoo, Malone.

Waite, an acquaintance and customer of Old Tyme Tattoo owner Christopher L. Lawrence, reportedly sold the items to Bryan Binan of Massena for $1,000 on July 18, 2009.

Mr. Binan, in a statement he provided police, said Waite called him the next day, told him the items were stolen and suggested he should scrape off the serial numbers and engrave his name on the machines.

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