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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Massena sex assault suspect sent back to jail following appearance on marijuana violation

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MASSENA - A Massena man charged in late September with sexually assaulting a woman in her mid-80s three years ago was sent back to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility following a brief appearance in village court on a marijuana violation.

Jason D. Tassie, 29, of 8 Tracy St., Massena, had been charged with unlawful possession of marijuana when he was found in possession of a small amount of marijuana in a baggie in his front pocket when he was being taken into custody on the sexual assault and burglary charges at 11:36 a.m. Sept. 22 at his workplace. Tassie was employed as a cook at The Via Main restaurant.

Massena Village Justice Eric J. Gustafson told Tassie the court was entering a not guilty plea on his behalf and adjourning the marijuana violation case until Oct. 30. He was sent back to the county jail, where his bail is $100,000 cash on two felony counts.

Village police had charged Tassie with felony counts of first-degree burglary and second-degree aggravated sexual assault on Sept. 22 after a recently submitted DNA sample for a conviction in another case allegedly connected the Massena man to the August 2009 sexual assault of a woman in her 80s living in the Beach Street area.

In other recent village court action:

■ Kenneth A. Laughlin, 20, of 64 Perkins Road, Massena, pleaded not guilty to fourth-degree criminal mischief and fourth-degree grand larceny charges as well as tickets for driving with no headlights, unlicensed operation, failure to keep right, reckless driving and leaving the scene of a property damage accident at 9:14 p.m. Sept. 28.

Laughlin reportedly stole his mother’s Dodge Durango, drove on Barnhart Road and then went off the right side of the road, crashing moments later into some trees and shrubs at the 296 Hubbard Road residence of David E. Tuttle, approximately a half mile from his residence.

Laughlin told police he took the truck because no one would give him a ride to his girlfriend’s house.

Mr. Gustafson sent Laughlin, who tested positive for marijuana use on the day of his court appearance, back to the county jail with bail continued at $2,000 cash or $4,000 bond. The court scheduled a preliminary hearing for later this week.

Laughlin made a plea to be released from custody.

“You have to go back to jail,” Mr. Gustafson told Laughlin, urging him to cooperate with the probation department’s recommendations. “I’m not ready to release you at this point.”

■ Steven P. Thompson, 21, of 1705 Salmon St., Fort Covington, was released from custody and placed under the supervision of the probation department. He had been held on $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond bail since his Sept. 26 arrest for a felony count of fourth-degree grand larceny and second-degree criminal trespass.

He was taken into custody early that afternoon after an approximately 10-minute pursuit in the Stephenville Road area before he was found trying to hide in the cat tails in a swampy area between state Route 37 and Stephenville Road. He attempted to enter a Sunmount home on Stephenville Road when he was fleeing from police.

Police said Walmart’s asset protection staff stopped Thompson when he walked past the store’s last point of sale without paying for $1,021.62 worth of merchandise in his cart. Those items reportedly included area rugs, strawberry Twizzlers, an eight pack of Mountain Dew, a magic glove and two 32-inch Vizio televisions.

■ Nolan P. Mitchell, 23, of Norfolk was sent back to the county jail with bail set at $100 cash on an aggravated driving while intoxicated charge stemming from a Sept. 16 traffic stop in the village of Massena, where he reportedly had a blood alcohol content of 0.21 percent. Mitchell told the court he is also being held on a bench warrant issued by the St. Lawrence County Court.

■ Kevin J. Brainard, 23, of 69 Sycamore St., Massena, was fined $25 and a $125 surcharge after pleading guilty to a disorderly conduct count.

He had been charged with engaging in tumultuous behavior and attempting to attack another person at 5:25 p.m. Sept. 3 in the presence of four uniformed police officers.

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