Six of the local residents arrested last month in a Franklin County-wide roundup of dozens of suspected drug dealers pleaded guilty to various drug charges in county court in Malone this week.
One Tupper Lake man is expected to face state prison time for selling heroin. Sentences for the other five could include probation or some combination of probation and jail.
Michael Delair, 39, of Tupper Lake, pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance (heroin).
Eleven of the 36 defendants arrested during the Aug. 28 sweep - one of the biggest drug busts in Franklin County history - appeared before Judge Robert G. Main Jr. on either Monday or Tuesday and entered guilty pleas, according to county District Attorney Derek Champagne. Six of those 11 are from Saranac Lake or Tupper Lake, and of the six, Champagne said one - 39-year-old Michael Delair of Tupper Lake - will likely be headed to prison.
Delair was indicted in August by a Franklin County grand jury on two counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to the sale counts and is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 2.
Based on Delair's plea to that class B felony, Champagne said he could "in theory" face from one to nine years in prison, five years of felony probation or a split sentence with a maximum six months in jail and five years of felony probation.
However, Delair is one of two people among this first group of 11 "who we've already agreed that the sentences have to be state prison," Champagne said. The other is Adam M. Petell, 28, of Malone. The DA said there's a "tentative agreement" that Delair will get no more than four years behind bars.
"Mr. Delair was viewed by local law enforcement as a significant dealer who was severely impacting the community," Champagne said.
"Michael Delair's name has come up numerous times over the years since I've been here and involved in narcotics investigations, most of the time as being one of the main dealers in the community," Tupper Lake Police Chief Eric Proulx told the Enterprise. He said he's pleased Delair will get a prison term.
"Probation this time around wouldn't have sat well with me, and it wouldn't have sat well with the officers who are out doing narcotics investigations and enforcement," Proulx said. "They like to see repeat offenders go to prison. They've put a lot of time into these investigations, and when they see them come out on probation, it kind of defeats the hours of time they have put in working these things."
Delair is being represented by the Franklin County Conflict Defenders Office. A phone message left there Thursday wasn't returned by press time today.
Champagne said the prosecution is still awaiting pre-sentencing reports on the rest of the defendants who entered guilty pleas this week. Their sentencing will ultimately be in the hands of the judge, but the DA said he's taken state prison off the table as an option. He said many of these defendants are addicts who need drug rehabilitation.
"If they're essentially deemed as nonviolent and solely using (drugs) to support their addiction, then those people would likely get straight probation or perhaps some combination of some jail time and probation," Champagne said. "Then there will be a number of them that will probably receive a split sentence. They'd be locked up for up to six months and get five years of felony supervision."
In addition to Delair, the other local residents who were in court this week are as follows:
-Scott Baker, 28, of Tupper Lake, pleaded guilty to three counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance for selling heroin and Fentanyl. He's scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 16.
-Matthew Taylor, 30, of Saranac Lake, pleaded guilty to fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance for selling Xanax. He's scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 25.
-Kyle Simpson, 29, of Saranac Lake, pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance for selling Suboxone. He's scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 16.
-Beth Woodruff, 40, of Saranac Lake, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance for selling Suboxone. She's scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 16.
-Rodney Sheldon, 36, of Saranac Lake, pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance and one count of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance for possessing cocaine. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 2.
Champagne said all those who entered pleas this week were remanded back to the Franklin County Jail in Malone without bail, pending sentencing.
The DA said he was pleased that so many of the defendants' cases could be resolved so quickly, less than a month after they were arrested.
"Studies are showing it's the same as when you discipline your children," Champagne said. "If you try to discipline your 5-year-old for something he did three days ago, it's absolutely worthless. There's no understanding of cause and affect. If someone is locked up for their conduct, it's resolved, and then they're locked up until the time they're sentenced, for the ones that were able to wake up as far as their addiction problem and the fact that they were selling to feed their addiction, I think this is a very efficient way to do it."
Champagne said many of the remaining 27 suspects arrested in the roundup have been released under the supervision of probation, pending future court appearances.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or email@example.com.