Northern New York Newspapers
NNY Business
NNY Living
Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Judge to alleged rehab scofflaw: “Man up, deal with your problem”


CANTON – An Ogdensburg man might get another shot at rehab, but not without a stern warning from St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards.

“The taxpayers of this county are the ones paying for your treatment, and their pockets are not endless,” Judge Richards warned admitted felon Rusty T. Simmons, who stood before the bench Tuesday seeking a second chance after allegedly walking out of a substance abuse program just hours before he was due to be released to a halfway house.

Mr. Simmons, 24, pleaded guilty on Aug. 31 to fourth-degree grand larceny in the 2010 theft of two computers from Walmart in the town of Potsdam. Probation officials reported that he left rehab at Canton-Potsdam Hospital on Oct. 18 against medical advice, the judge said.

After being arrested on Oct. 31, Mr. Simmons tested positive for THC, a chemical component in marijuana, as well as cocaine and Suboxone, which is used for opioid dependency treatment, the judge said. Later, in county jail, Mr. Simmons was recorded yelling at his girlfriend for not sending him money for Suboxone, the judge said.

“Man up, deal with your problem,” the judge said.

“I was trying to get Suboxone,” Mr. Simmons replied. “I do have a drug problem that I’d like to get taken care of.”

Judge Richards remanded Mr. Simmons back to jail, but did direct probation officials to see if a halfway house placement was possible, with sentencing set for Jan. 28.

“I can still send you to state prison if I think it’s appropriate,” the judge said.

In other court activity on Tuesday:

■ Daniel P. Mackey, 64, Potsdam, was released on probation after pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated on April 5, 2011 in the village. He registered a 0.30 percent blood alcohol content, police said. Aggravated DWI is charged when the BAC is 0.18 percent or more.

“That’s an extremely high level of intoxication,” Judge Richards said. “People who blow a 0.30, Mr. Mackey, are extremely, extremely experienced drinkers.

Sentencing was set for March 4, with Mr. Mackey instructed to seek inpatient alcoholism treatment as soon as possible.

■ Martin R. Berger, 38, Norfolk, pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in connection with a June 7 traffic stop in the town of Potsdam. Information on his blood alcohol content was not immediately available. Sentencing was set for March 4.

■ Bonnie M. Gibson, 50, Nedrow, was sentenced to five years’ probation and 90 days in county jail, concurrent with probation, after pleading guilty in April to one count of second-degree criminal possession of marijuana. Ms. Gibson was charged with possessing 32.5 pounds of marijuana May 27, 2011 in the town of Morristown.

■ Joel Rivera, 35, Cocoa, Fla., was sentenced to six months in county jail and five years’ probation on weapons charges from 2010.

Mr. Rivera pleaded guilty in September to one count of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a class D violent felony.

When he was pulled over on Route 11 in Canton on Dec. 12, 2010, U.S. Border Patrol agents allegedly found a Taurus .45-caliber automatic pistol, a Kimber .45-caliber automatic pistol, a Smith & Wesson 9 mm Luger pistol, a Cheetah stun gun and .45-caliber ammunition.

Mr. Rivera expressed remorse and had asked the court to consider straight probation so he could return to his family and work in Florida.

Judge Richards replied that the charge required imprisonment, adding that Mr. Rivera was being sentenced to at least 18 months less than recommended, and in a county facility rather than state prison.

“You brought not one but three loaded weapons,” the judge said. “These were not hunting weapons ... what the heck was going on?”

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