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Judge sends former Gouverneur resident to prison again in 2009 traffic death

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CANTON — After accepting a plea deal last month, former Gouverneur resident Michael F. Lewis was sentenced Monday to 9 to 13 years in state prison in connection with the July 2009 death of his grandmother in a traffic accident, ending a legal saga marked by an appeal of his original sentence.

Mr. Lewis was driving on Garrison Road in Pitcairn on July 18, 2009, when he lost control of his pickup truck and crashed into a telephone pole. Irene D. Layboult, 70, Pitcairn, who was his passenger, died the next day at Upstate Medical University, Syracuse.

A toxicology report found that Mr. Lewis had drugs in his system at the time of the accident.

In December 2009, Mr. Lewis, then of 65 Austin St., Gouverneur, pleaded guilty in St. Lawrence County Court before Judge Jerome J. Richards to second-degree vehicular manslaughter. He also pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree burglary in connection with a June 2008 burglary in the village of Potsdam.

Before he was due to be sentenced in January 2010, Mr. Lewis violated his probation by drinking alcohol and violating a protection order held by a family member.

Judge Richards refused to sentence Mr. Lewis to concurrent terms and sentenced him to a total 813 to 13 years in state prison for the two cases. If Mr. Lewis had not violated probation, he would have been sentenced to about six years.

Mr. Lewis appealed, which resulted in a vacated sentence and a return to County Court. On Jan. 13 he entered a guilty plea that resulted in essentially the same sentence he would have faced three years ago, but not without some rumblings that irritated the judge and grieving relatives.

Judge Richards said probation officials reported that Mr. Lewis, 33, told them he already was considering an appeal of the new sentence.

“It’s not a game here,” the judge said, warning that he could vacate the plea and “we’ll have a trial.”

As she did in 2010, Vicki L. Layboult, Mrs. Layboult’s daughter, gave a victim impact statement.

“It was you who killed my mother, and nobody but you,” she said. “Your sentence is nothing compared with what you did to my mother.”

“I am very sorry for what happened,” Mr. Lewis said.

The judge also sentenced him to $13,251 in restitution and $695 in fines and fees.

Also in County Court on Monday:

n Dwain A. Mashaw, 33, Ogdensburg, was sentenced to 1 to 4 years in state prison in connection with a felony DWI plea after twice failing to show up for substance abuse treatment and violating his release by testing positive for cocaine and other substances.

n Terry A. Derouchie, 46, Massena, was sentenced to two concurrent five-year probation terms and $1,120 in restitution and $375 in fines and fees in connection with a 2009 incident in which he punched a St. Lawrence County sheriff’s deputy in the face during a dispute following a Family Court hearing.

n Jennifer Warren Kari, 25, Balmat, received five years’ probation for an insurance fraud case in which she reported her car stolen to state police in 2011 when she actually had given permission to someone to get rid of it. The car was found in Syracuse the same day destroyed by a fire.

Judge Richards noted that Mrs. Kari had cooperated fully with probation and begun restitution making payments, with about $22,000 remaining, and was credited for one year of probation served.

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