2 are sentenced to state prison on drug charges

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 August 2017 at 11:06 pm

ALBION – Two people were sentenced to state prison today by acting Orleans County Court Judge Sara Sheldon, who presided over a full calendar of cases for the first time following the retirement of James Punch.

Sheldon ruled in favor of one of the defendants by dismissing a weapons charge.

Erika Poole, 37, of Medina was found guilty during a trial that concluded May 12. She was convicted of criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance. During a search of her residence on Salt Works Road, police also found a shotgun.

Poole’s attorney, Jon Ross Wilson, said in court today that Poole notified police that a stolen shotgun was under a mattress. She also gave written consent for a search warrant inside the house.

Wilson said the gun may have been someone else’s or put there by someone besides Poole.

The judge dismissed the weapons charge but and gave Poole three years in state prison for the drug charges. She could have faced five years after being found guilty of three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree (for having cocaine with the intent to sell). She also was found guilty of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree (for having more than 500 milligrams of cocaine). 

The judge ruled the charges would run concurrent or be served at the same time. Poole let out a sigh of relief and a smile when Sheldon made her ruling.

The judge noted several letters of support for Poole, including one from a teacher in the jail through the Orleans-Niagara BOCES. The teacher said Poole is one of her best students – ever. Poole also has taking drug treatment programs through GCASA, and been active in a Bible study program. She has been in the jail for more than a year.

Her attorney said her criminal history in connected to her struggles with substance abuse. Wilson requested a drug treatment program for Poole as part of the sentence.

“She needs the tools to get back on the straight and narrow,” Wilson told the judge. “With the right programs I think she can turn her life around.”

The judge said Poole needs to be mindful of “people, places and things” that can pull her back to addiction.

“Three years is significant for a drug charge,” Sheldon said during sentencing. “This isn’t your first charge. Let it be your last.”

The judge also sentenced Mathew P. Stearns, 34, of Holley to 3 ½ years in prison after he pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree.

That charge could have carried a maximum of eight years in prison, but as part of a plea deal on June 19, the sentence was capped at 3 ½ years.

Stearns admitted in court on June 19 that he sold drugs while living at the Holley Hotel.

He apologized to his family and the community for the crime, and said drugs have cost him everything. He said his drug use went back 25 years.

His attorney David Wade asked the judge to sentence Stearns to the Willard drug treatment program, but Assistant District Attorney Susan Howard objected because Stearns was guilty of selling drugs.

The judge told Stearns he wouldn’t go to Willard, but he could find treatment.

She said Stearns thus far has been a “waste,” with his persistent drug use.

“A huge waste,” Stearns then replied.

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