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AUBURN — An Auburn man has admitted to possessing drugs with the intent to sell. 

Nathan Smith, 26, of 39 West St. Apt. 3, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class D felony. During his plea, he told the court he intended to sell Suboxone, a narcotic often used to treat addiction. 

Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann said Smith was participating in drug treatment court late last year when officers suspected he was selling narcotics, and after a months-long investigation, the Finger Lakes Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at his home. The search uncovered more than $2,900 and 17 Suboxone sublingual films, which Smith said he planned to sell for cash. 

Smith — who was previously sentenced to probation for other drug-related charges — could face up to seven years in prison for the crime. However, in exchange for his plea, Judge Mark Fandrich agreed to sentence him to 2 1/2 years in prison followed by one year post-release supervision. He would also have to pay $120 in restitution and forfeit the $2,905 that was seized during the search warrant. 

Smith was remanded to Cayuga County Jail, where he has been since his arrest in January. He will remain there until his sentencing June 12. 

Also in court: 

• A Cayuga County man who tried to run down a deputy in 2008 will spend the next one to three years in prison for driving without a license. 

In 2008, Dale Rigby was arrested following a high-speed chase in Wayne County, where he nearly ran over a sheriff's deputy with his van. That incident ended when the deputy shot out Rigby's tires in the town of Conquest, and he was ultimately sentenced to 1 1/3 to four years in prison for reckless endangerment. 

Then, last year, Rigby was rearrested for leading police on another high-speed chase, this time in the town of Geddes. He was charged with second-degree unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, unlawfully fleeing a police officer, reckless driving and several other traffic violations.

In June, Rigby was sentenced to five years probation for driving without a license in Onondaga County. And on Tuesday, he appeared in Cayuga County Court for violating the terms and conditions of his probation.

Rigby, 49, of 10524 Duck Lake Road, Conquest, admitted the violation Tuesday before Judge Thomas Leone who then sentenced the defendant to one to three years in prison and three years post-release supervision. He would be given credit for time served. 

• A Genoa man was restored to probation Tuesday after one of New York state's highest courts vacated his prison sentence. 

In October 2016, Claude Zirbel, of 9569 Creeks Road, was resentenced to 2 1/3 to seven years in prison for his second violation of probation in Cayuga County.

Zirbel was previously sentenced in 2011 to 1 1/3 to four years in prison and five years probation for felony driving while intoxicated. Then, after serving the full four years in prison, Zirbel violated his probation on two occasions — first in 2015 when he was caught in possession of alcohol and again in 2016 when he was arrested and charged with his sixth drunk driving offense. 

After pleading guilty to felony DWI in Cortland County, Zirbel reappeared before Judge Leone, who revoked his probation and resentenced him to prison. But last month, the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division vacated that sentence on appeal, stating that the court could not impose additional prison time for the violation. 

The case was sent back to Cayuga County Court where Leone restored Zirbel to his probation. While Leone said he respected the Appellate Division's decision, he said he was uncomfortable restoring Zirbel to community supervision given the defendant's history. His probation term is set to expire next year. 

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


Crime and Courts Reporter