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Village police make two arrests related to Bishop Avenue incident

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MASSENA - A Massena couple charged with having approximately $30,000 worth of heroin packaged for sale hidden in a bedroom closet both denied knowing the drugs were in their apartment during their arraignment on felony drugs charges Saturday.

Massena Village Police charged Gerald L. Dissottle Jr., 21, and Megan N. Laflesh, 19, both formerly living a 15 Bishop Ave., Massena, with a B felony of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance after they were taken into custody at 9:19 a.m. Saturday at an apartment on Route 56 at Townline Road in the town of Louisville.

State police assisted village police Saturday morning, and Dissottle and Laflesh were taken into custody without incident.

The couple were living in the Bishop Avenue apartment where one man was shot and another robbed during a drug-related incident Monday night. The couple have since been evicted from the apartment.

Dissottle is listing a Norwood address, and Laflesh said she was still living in Massena but no longer in the village.

Village police said they seized 1,640 “bundles” of heroin - nearly four ounces - in Laflesh’s bedroom closet when they conducted a search related to the shooting and stabbing Monday evening. Dissottle told police he was living with Laflesh. The street value of the drugs was over $30,000, Massena Village Police Chief Timmy J. Currier said in a statement.

Dissottle was arraigned by Acting Massena Village Justice James M. Crandall and sent to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility with bail set at $50,000 cash or $100,000. Laflesh was also arraigned by Judge Crandall. She was sent to the county jail with bail set at $20,000 cash or $40,000 bond.

Dissottle expressed surprise when the charge was read to him in court. “ ... a thousand and 40 bundles is a lot. I don’t understand what they (police) are saying. I’ve never seen any heroin in that house,” he told the acting village justice.

The Norwood-are man also expressed dismay when his bail was set at $50,000. “I’m not calling for bail. I’ve got a ridiculous amount of bail. We’ll deal with it Wednesday at the prelim (preliminary hearing,” a court proceeding where prosecutors need to meet probable cause standards that a felony offense was committed and that Laflesh and Dissottle committed that crime.

Laflesh also questioned the validity of the charge. “Know the people who broke into our house ... What if they put it there?” she asked.

Village police Investigator Joseph Brown, in a statement included in court papers, said the heroin had been located in a second floor bedroom closet that contained women’s clothing, women’s beauty products and women’s shoes.

He said there were personal papers on the bed belonging to Laflesh, including medical bills, bank statements and social service financial aid statements. He said a court document indicating she was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for a seat belt violation was pinned to the wall in the bedroom. A digital camera on the stand next to the bed included images of Laflesh, Mr. Brown said in his statement.

Speaking outside the arraignment, Mr. Brown said other people - described as transients from the New York City by sources close to the case - also had been living at the apartment from time to time. “They had friends visiting from out of the area,” the police investigator said.

“Our investigation is continuing, and other arrests are pending,” he added.

Mr. Currier said other evidence tied to the assault was located and collected as well during the execution of the search warrant Monday night.

“There is obviously a great deal of information I am unwilling to disclose about this incident, but given the details of these arrest today (Saturday), I believe people can better understand what was going down at that residence and why.”

It is no secret that the increased crime in Massena is driven by the illegal drug trade, from marijuana to opiates to heroin, Mr. Currier said.

“The amount of heroin found at this residence underscores the drug problem we face here in Massena and in this region,” Mr. Currier said.

Mr. Brown said Saturday’s arrest marked the first heroin arrest in Massena in recent years. “We have been hearing it was coming. Other agencies around us have had encounters with it. This is our first significant encounter with it,” he noted.

Police received a complaint at 6:59 p.m. Monday that someone had seen two men assault another man between 15 and 17 Bishop Ave. Police discovered there were also two other victims at 15 Bishop - one man who had been shot in the upper chest from close range and a second man who had been stabbed in the buttocks.

Mr. Currier said two males left the triplex apartment at 15 Bishop Ave. shortly before 7 p.m. to go pick up dinner, leaving two men inside the residence. While those two men were gone, two other men reportedly went into the apartment, tied up the two men they found inside the apartment with electrical zip ties and then stabbed one man in the buttocks and shot the other man in the chest.

The village police chief said the stabbing victim, who was treated and released from Massena Memorial Hospital Monday night, also had defensive wounds. The shooting victim remained hospitalized Tuesday.

He said as the two attackers were leaving the residence they encountered the two men returning to the apartment with a pizza. One of those men suffered blunt force trauma to the head when he was attacked by the two men leaving the apartment. That victim was also treated and released from Massena Memorial Monday night.

Mr. Currier said Tuesday he believed the two men that were injured at 15 Bishop live there, at least on an intermittent basis. Dissottle and Laflesh were not at home when the shooting and stabbing took place, Mr. Brown said Saturday afternoon.

The victims and attackers are believed to be part of a transient population that have addresses both inside and outside the north country. Mr. Currier said he believed several of the individuals involved in the incident move in and out of Massena on a regular basis and have contacts they stay with in Massena when they are in the north country.

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