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Auburn man gets prison time for drug charges — again

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AUBURN | There are five felonies and nine misdemeanor convictions on Richard Bizardi's criminal record since 1992, and his latest felony has resulted in a six-year prison term.

The 39-year-old Auburn man was sentenced in Cayuga County Court on Tuesday for third-degree criminal sale of narcotics, a felony. He pleaded guilty to the act on Feb. 11.

On Tuesday, District Attorney Jon Budelmann referenced Bizardi's criminal history, saying the Auburn man's most recent conviction, prior to this one, was in 2012 for fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

In prior years, Bizardi has been convicted of criminal possession of drugs and attempted criminal sale of drugs as well as burglary, among others. The Auburn man now has felony convictions in Cayuga County, Onondaga County and three separate counties in New York City, according to Budelmann.

Speaking before Judge Mark Fandrich on Tuesday, Bizardi voice rose in frustration as he indicated his displeasure with the services of his counsel, attorney Joseph Sapio.

Bizardi claimed he was seeking treatment for substance abuse issues from multiple organizations, alleging that Sapio had failed to submit the appropriate forms to show this effort.

However, the judge indicated that the sentence would have likely remained the six years in prison, with two years of post-release supervision, solely based on Bizardi's lengthy criminal history.

Before leaving, Bizardi submitted a notice of his appeal regarding the issued sentence.

Also in court

• An Auburn woman's failure to stay sober and follow the terms of her probation sparked Fandrich to send her to prison.

Camille Racona, of 88 Orchard St., was sentenced to five years of probation two years ago for third-degree grand larceny, third-degree welfare fraud and criminal misuse of food stamps.

She was ordered to pay $8,022 in restitution. This was paid upon the woman's formal sentencing in June.

While Racona's probation called for her participation in drug treatment court due to substance abuse issues, the 24-year-old has repeatedly tested positive since that time for cocaine and opiates, among other substances, according to Fandrich.

The judge sounded exasperated during Tuesday's proceedings.

“I don't know what to do with you, Camille,” he said during the initial brief of Racona's case. “I just don't.”

Prior to sentencing, Racona's counsel, attorney Norman Chirco, argued for her to be remanded to Cayuga County Jail with continuing drug treatment, but attested that she needs to take responsibility for her actions.

“There have been a lot of people that have tried to bring her around,” he said, referring to efforts from Racona's family and case workers.

Racona also attempted to make a case for herself, saying she has been trying to get into various rehabilitation programs in an attempt to get her life back.

However, she alleged she was brought into contact with drugs and opiates by another individual.

“It's hard to say no,” she said.

With the dispositions in account, Fandrich sentenced Racona to two to six years in prison, each, for the grand larceny and welfare fraud charges. Both will run concurrently with each other with a recommendation for further drug treatment

She was additionally sentenced one to three years for the criminal misuse of food stamps, which rolls into the overall sentence.

• A Cato man appeared in court on charges of fracturing a 1-year-old's femur.

Jacob Waloven, 20, 10269 Slab City Road, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment. He has been charged with second-degree assault, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, from an incident in January.

Waloven was remanded to the Cayuga County Jail without bail.

• A Skaneateles woman is facing five-years of probation after drunkenly driving her car into a ditch with her daughter as a passenger.

Melissa Russell, 29, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of aggravated driving while intoxicated and endangering the welfare of a child. With her plea, Russell admitted to driving drunk on State Route 34B in Scipio with her then 3-year-old daughter in October.

The incident ended with her car off road and in a ditch. Both passengers only suffered bruises from the crash, she said.

“You're both very fortunate,” Fandrich said.

Russell's plea satisfies all charges associated from the incident. Her attorney, Adam Van Buskirk, said he recommended the deal as it is much more lenient than the alternative, which could be four years in prison.

Additionally, Russell's license will be suspended for at least a year, an ignition interlock device will be installed on her vehicle for one year and she will be required to participate in alcohol treatment and drunk driving programs on a later date.

Formal sentencing for Russell's case was scheduled for June.

• An Auburn man will go to prison for five years for selling drugs. After pleading guilty in February, Axel Brooks, 26, of 16 Steel St., will also serve two years of post-release supervision.

Staff writer Greg Mason can be reached at (315) 282-2239 or Follow him on Twitter @CitizenMason.


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