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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Norwood man charged with possessing heroin has long criminal history

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MASSENA - Five years ago, St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards told a then-16-year-old Gerald L. Dissottle Jr. of Norwood that the teenager had a scary drug history.

Five years later, Dissottle and his girlfriend, Megan L. Laflesh, stand accused of possessing approximately $30,000 worth of heroin found in their apartment at 15 Bishop Ave., Massena, Monday night when police were searching for evidence in a stabbing and shooting that took place inside the home they had apparently shared over the past month with transients from outside the area.

Dissottle denied having any knowledge that there was heroin in the residence when he was arraigned Saturday on a third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell charge.

Dissottle’s bail was set at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond.

Laflesh, who has no prior criminal history, was sent to the county jail with bail set at $20,000 cash or $40,000 bond following her arraignment Saturday afternoon.

Massena-based state police had charged Dissottle and his father, Gerald L. Dissottle Sr., 41, of 9851 state Route 56, Massena, with second-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon after they allegedly beat Benjamin R. Tipping with a tire iron at approximately 3:30 a.m. June 29 during an altercation on the side of state Route 37 in the town of Louisville.

Mr. Tipping, 26, of 14120 state Route 37, Louisville, in his statement to police, said he had been at his residence with Patience Dissottle and she left his residence about 3:30 a.m. June 29 and started walking back to Massena. He claimed she took his cell phone before leaving his residence. He said he left his residence a short time later to look for Ms. Dissottle and his cell phone.

He said a short time later as he was walking down state Route 37 following Ms. Dissottle, a vehicle driven by her father stopped in the traffic lane. He said Gerald Dissottle Sr., Gerald Dissottle Jr. and David Labarge stepped out of the vehicle and attacked him.

“Jerry said to me you. ‘You are gonna get it now ... Both Jerry Sr. and Jerry Jr., along with David Labarge, ran up to me and swung at me several times and started beating ... me. I covered up my face and (laid) on my back. Then they started kicking me, and I just covered up,” Mr. Tipping told police.

He said there was a brief respite from the beating, and he heard the clanking of metal.

“I saw Jerry Sr. grab a metal tire iron out of the back of the vehicle, and I heard Jerry Sr. say, ‘Grab the bat,’ to Jerry Jr. I remember big Jerry standing over me holding the tire iron. I did see Jerry Jr. holding a bat at one point. I was laying on my back, and I saw Jerry Sr. swinging the tire iron, but I don’t remember much after that. I was in and out of consciousness after this,” he noted in his statement to troopers.

Troopers allege Mr. Tipping suffered a concussion and several contusions and abrasions in the baseball bat attack. Dissottle Jr., in his statement to police, admitted he and his father had punched Mr. Tipping after they saw him grab Ms. Dissottle by the hair on the back of her head after she had called asking for a ride back to Massena. He denied the men had struck Mr. Tipping with a baseball bat and a tire iron.

Dissottle Jr. told Acting Massena Village Justice James M. Crandall at his arraignment Saturday that those charges are still pending in Louisville Town Court.

Dissottle was one of two then teenagers indicted for a gun crime in August 2007. Dissottle and his co-defendant were indicted for two counts of attempted second-degree robbery and two counts of second-degree burglary.

According to court documents, Dissottle and two other teens went to 5 Spring St., Norwood, which was owned by Camvan Merrill, on Aug. 6, 2007 and approached and demanded money from Anthony Merrill.

Mr. Merrill was able to secure himself in the residence, where the subjects then proceeded to kick and pound on the door and during the incident allegedly displayed a handgun, according to police.

Dissottle pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted burglary to satisfy those charges and was sentenced to serve two years in state prison. He admitted he had served as a lookout during the burglary attempt.

He initially entered a state correctional facility in March 21, 2008 and was last sent back to prison in April 2011 on a parole revocation. He was released from prison on Oct. 21, 2011, the maximum expiration date of his attempted burglary sentence.

He had initially been expected to be placed on one-year interim probation in December 2007, with the caveat that if he successfully completed his probationary period he would be granted youthful offender status and placed on probation for five years. When he was unsuccessful on interim probation, he was sentenced to the minimum term of two years in prison.

Judge Richards had expressed concern about Dissottle during his December 2007 court appearance. “I don’t trust you. Your drug history is scary. I’m willing to release you from jail to a treatment bed,” he told the Norwood teenager at that court appearance.

“But I’m not willing to release you into the community. If I let you out now, I’m concerned there isn’t enough supervision in the community to keep track of you. I don’t think you have enough self control, discipline to stay out of trouble.”

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