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Pre-hearing drug indictments surprise attorneys in Ogdensburg crack case

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OGDENSBURG - Defense attorneys were caught by surprise Thursday when four cocaine possession suspects were indicted by a St. Lawrence County grand jury just before they were set to appear at an Ogdensburg City Court preliminary hearing to weigh the charges against them.

Charles J.H. “Whiz” Caviness, 24, Eldridge “L” Gossom, 25, Andre L. “Dre” Wilson, 40, and Tige K. “Jeeb” Smith Jr., 24, all of Buffalo, were indicted on Dec. 6 charges against each of felony third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

The indictments came as a surprise to attorneys for Mr. Gossom and Mr. Wilson, both of whom were in city court for a scheduled preliminary hearing before Judge William R. Small. Mr. Caviness was absent, having waived his right to the proceeding, which is held to determine whether criminal charges are warranted.

Mr. Smith was also absent. His attorney, Mary E. Rain, Ogdensburg, expected him in city court to testify. Ms. Rain conceded that whenever a grand jury votes to indict, there is no need for a preliminary hearing.

But she said she did not know District Attorney Nicole A. Duve held her client for the grand jury that morning until she arrived in Ogdensburg for the hearing.

“Basically, she (Ms. Duve) hijacked my client,” Ms. Rain said. “That grand jury indictment is a farce.”

Ms. Duve said Mr. Smith’s rights were protected at all times, but said she couldn’t comment on the grand jury proceedings.

“It’s confidential by law,” she said.

The other two defense attorneys at the hearing had differing takes on the timing of the indictment.

“It’s very irregular,” said Mr. Gossom’s attorney, Thomas B. Wheeler of Potsdam.

“I don’t have anything negative to say about it,” said Mr. Wilson’s attorney, Greg Storie of Rensselaer Falls.

Police officers found in a Belmont Courts apartment 111 mini-baggies of crack cocaine and seven mini-baggies of powdered cocaine with a cumulative weight of 28.7 grams and an estimated total street value of $5,900.

All four defendants remain in St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility.

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