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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Massena heroin sent up to county court

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By RYNE R. MARTIN

MASSENA - The Massena couple charged with having 1,640 bundles of heroin in their apartment discovered during a police search of the residence as part of an Oct. 22 stabbing and shooting at 15 Bishop Ave. were sent back to the count jail following a Wednesday court appearance.

Megan N. Laflesh, 19, now listing a different Massena address, waived her right to have a preliminary hearing on a third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance count and was sent back to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility with her bail reduced from $20,000 cash and $40,000 bond to $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond. Her case is now headed for possible presentment to a county grand jury.

Her attorney, Jaime M. Bello, of the New York City law firm of Musa-Obregon and Associates, also asked Acting Massena Village Justice James M. Crandall to issue an order to have his client evaluated for substance abuse issues.

Gerald L. Dissottle Jr., 21, now listing a 532 Elliot Road, Norwood, address, was sent back to the county jail with his bail continued at $50,000 cash or $100,000 following a preliminary hearing whose sole witness was Massena Village Police Investigator Joseph W. Brown. His case was also held for possible grand jury action.

Mr. Brown testified he was investigating the shooting and stabbing on the evening of Oct. 22 at a three-bedroom apartment in a triplex at 15 Bishop Ave, He said during the execution of a search warrant he found a paper bag that appeared to contain narcotics inside a plastic bag in a closet in the front of the apartment. He said a field test of one of the bundles tested positive for heroin.

The village police invesigator said the closet contained women’s clothing, women’s shoes and female health and beauty products.

He said police also found personal papers - including social services applications and bank statements in Laflesh’s name - as well as a court document about a traffic ticket appearance pinned to a corkboard on the wall in the bedroom

Mr. Brown said when he arrived at the residence two people were in the apartment - Dissottle and a New York City man, Patrick Lloyd.

He said he questioned the two men that night, and Dissottle told him he had lived at 15 Bishop Ave. for the past month with his girlfriend, Laflesh. The other man in the apartment, Patrick Lloyd, said he was simply visiting the apartment.

Mr. Brown noted police had gone to court to get a search warrant after Dissottle declined to sign a voluntary consent form for a search of the apartment. “He said he lived there, but he didn’t pay rent and his name wasn’t on the lease,” the village police investigator testified.

Defense attorney Peter Dumas, during his cross examination, asked if the warrant had stated police were searching for narcotics. Mr. Brown said the initial warrant had been for evidence related to the shooting, stabbing and assault that had taken place at the apartment.

But he said that warrant had been amended to include narcotics later that evening. “Once we found the narcotics, we stopped our search, backed out of the apartment and contacted the court to get the warrant amended,” he said.

Under questioning from Mr. Dumas, Mr. Brown said he didn’t recall finding any men’s clothing or papers with Dissottle’s name in the bedroom where the heroin was located.

He argued during his closing argument that evidence hadn’t been presented at the preliminary hearing to give the court probable cause to believe Dissottle was linked to the heroin found in the apartment.

“The evidence showed the heroin was found in the bedroom of Megan Laflesh. There was no evidence that Gerald Dissottle lived in that bedroom. There was no evidence shown he didn’t live in one of the two other bedrooms. To assume one way or the other is dangerous,” he suggested.

St. Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney Andrew L. Botts countered Dissottle’s own statement to the village police investigator connected him to the heroin, noting Mr. Brown testified the former Massena man told him he lived with Laflesh at the apartment. “It’s totally reasonable to infer he lived in that bedroom,” he said.

Mr. Crandall, in ruling there was probable cause to hold the case over for possible grand jury action. He said if it was 50 years ago Mr. Dumas’ argument about the possible living arrangements in the house might have more merit. But he said in today’s social context is was reasonable to believe Dissottle was staying in Laflesh’s bedroom, based on the investigator’s statement that the couple were living together.

The acting village justice also denied Mr. Dumas’s request to have his client’s bail reduced from $50,000 cash to $10,000 cash. He pointed out his client is currently released under the supervision of the probation department on a felony charge pending in the town of Louisville court and has not missed any court appointments.

“He understands the gravity of this situation, as do his family are with him in the courtroom today. He wants to fight these charges wholeheartedly,” Mr. Dumas.

Mr. Botts countered he was opposed to any bail reduction. He noted Dissottle is facing a second-degree assault charge in Louisville and his latest arrest ties him to the narcotics community.

The acting village justice said he was going to hold the bail at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond. “One of the considerations that has to be taken by the court is we are on the Canadian border. The court is also taking into consideration that on his prior felony conviction there were three revocations of his parole,” Mr. Crandall said.

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