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Judge rejects Cayuga County drug dealer's request for probation

Judge rejects Cayuga County drug dealer's request for probation


A drug dealer's request to be placed on probation instead of being sent to prison was rejected Tuesday in Cayuga County Court. 

Charles Leavens, 31, was sentenced by Judge Mark Fandrich for fourth-degree sale of a controlled substance, a class F felony. The proceeding was partially held remotely, but Leavens and his attorney, John Price, were in court for the sentencing.

Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann said Leavens previously appeared in court Sept. 15 and pleaded guilty to the sale charge in satisfaction of three other charges — another sale charge and two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child — but sentencing had been adjourned.

Budelmann also noted that Leavens was previously convicted of selling drugs illegally. Budelmann said Tuesday that Leavens said in his presentence investigation report that he was selling to help his children, but Budelmann said it was determined one of his children was present during the sales.

"Judge, this defendant was selling prescription drugs given out to try to help people who are addicted to drugs get over their addiction," Budelmann said. "The defendant's sale of them indicates either he didn't need as much as he was getting or didn't need it at all." 

Price said Leavens lives with his ill mother and two children and was working multiple jobs to support them. 

"I had asked the court to consider a term of probation given those circumstances. Mr. Leavens is significantly concerned about what would happen to his children should he not be there," Price said.

Leavens also made his argument to Fandrich.

"My daughter's birthday is next Monday. I am truly sorry for doing this, absolutely, I'm sorry. I can't take it back. I wish I could," Leavens said.

Leavens was then sentenced to 2.5 years in state prison, along with a shock camp order, and three years of post-release supervision. As Fandrich spoke, Leavens occasionally put up his hands on his eyes.

Also in court:

• A Cayuga County man's sentencing was delayed in light of him facing additional charge.

Kyle Phillips, 29, of 7430 N. Street Road, 1, Sennett, was set to be sentenced by Fandrich for failure to notify of a sex offender address change, a class D felony. Phillips was arrested on Aug. 6.

Rome Canzano, Phillips' attorney, requested an adjournment and for sentencing be rescheduled "for a plea by way of (superior court information)," to an additional offense — another failure to notify of a sex offender address change charge, which Phillips was charged with Dec. 16.

Canzano said after court there is an agreement for sentencing in light of this additional charge. He said this new sentencing is set to be 1 1/3 to four years in state prison.

"My understanding is that (the additional charge) predated the original charge, but was discovered later," Canzano said.

In court, Cayuga County Senior Assistant District Attorney Heather DeStefano said she conveyed the offer to Canzano in a letter last month, adding that she agreed with the adjournment request.

Phillips is due back in court March 2.

• An Auburn man was arraigned on several drug felonies.

LaShawn D. Forgit, 23, of 50 West St., B, was in front of Fandrich for six counts of third-degree sale of controlled substance and seven counts of third-degree possession of a controlled substance, all class B felonies, and two misdemeanor counts of second-degree using drug paraphernalia.

Budelmann said after court that Forgit had to be released under the state's bail law. Forgit's next day in court is April 13.

Fandrich asked Forgit if he understood that the various felonies he was charged with carry a maximum sentence of nine years in state prison and two years of post-release supervision.

"And if you fail to appear at any point in time, I can proceed in absentia and have a trial in your absence and if you're convicted, sentence you in your absence, do you understand that?" Fandrich said, adding that many of the charges appear to have occurred on different dates, so Forgit's sentences could run consecutively. Forgit said he understood.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.


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Education and City Reporter

Hello, my name is Kelly Rocheleau, and I cover the education and city beats for The Citizen and I've been writing for the paper since December 2016.

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