AUBURN — When the Finger Lakes SPCA denied William Butler's request to adopt a dog last spring, the Union Springs man said he decided to take matters into his own hands. 

On May 2, Butler said he drank some Southern Comfort and consumed Xanax pills to calm his nerves. Then, he broke into the shelter on York Street and stole a 10-week-old pit bull puppy named Lil Jed.

At the time, the SPCA and Auburn Police Department asked the public for help finding the missing dog. SPCA Executive Director Carol Russell said Lil Jed had come to the shelter on April 11 as an owner surrender and was not available for adoption as he did not have all of his required vaccines. 

Officers recovered the puppy unharmed on May 4 after receiving tips from the public. Those tips led police to Butler's residence in Union Springs

Butler was arrested and charged with third-degree burglary, a class D felony. He was also charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief and petit larceny, both misdemeanors. 

On Thursday, the 39-year-old admitted his crime in Cayuga County Court. He told Judge Thomas Leone that he broke into the SPCA through a window at the back of the shelter. 

Butler, of 636 Farley Point Road, pleaded guilty to one count of burglary in full satisfaction of the charges. A second felony offender, Butler was convicted of fourth-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property in July 2008. He was also charged in a separate, unrelated incident with driving while intoxicated and third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. 

According to Leone, Butler could face up to seven years in prison for stealing Lil Jed. However, he agreed to sentence the defendant to the minimum of two to four years in prison with a Willard order, which would allow Butler to serve the majority of his sentence as parole supervision. 

Butler was remanded to Cayuga County Jail without bail. His sentencing was scheduled for Dec. 14. 

Also in court: 

• A Queens woman has admitted that she tried to smuggle heroin and suboxone into Cayuga Correctional Facility in Moravia. 

Cassie Rodrigues, 29, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of first-degree attempted promoting prison contraband, a felony.

Rodrigues said she was visiting an inmate at the medium-security facility in September 2016 when a K-9 officer searched her belongings. She told Leone she gave the officer permission to look through her things. 

Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann said officers found 56 suboxone strips and 10 grams of heroin in a medicine bottle in Rodrigues' purse. She intended to give it to the inmate she was visiting. 

Rodrigues could face up to four years in prison, but Leone agreed to sentence her to nine months in Cayuga County Jail. She was remanded to jail pending sentencing Dec. 14. 

• An Auburn man was arraigned on an indictment Thursday, which charged him with sexually abusing a young girl in his home. 

Richard C. Gould, of 63 Owasco St., was arrested in April 2016 for having sexual contact with a girl under the age of 11, Auburn police said. At the time, officers said the victim knew Gould but was not related to him. 

On Thursday, the 55-year-old pleaded not guilty to two violent felonies — first-degree sex abuse and second-degree aggravated sex abuse — and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

Gould was released from Cayuga County Jail on $10,000 cash bail. He is due back in court Jan. 4. 

Staff writer Megan Blarr can be reached at (315) 282-2282 or megan.blarr@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @CitizenBlarr. 

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