2 avoid jail for first-time drug crimes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 January 2017 at 7:42 am

ALBION – Two people who pleaded guilty to drug crimes won’t be going to jail, but instead will be on probation.

County Court Judge James Punch had stern warnings for both on Monday. If they test positive for a drug while on probation, they would likely be put in jail.

Betty Russell, 57, of Medina was sentenced to four years on probation. She pleaded guilty on Oct. 3 to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, which normally carries a maximum sentence of 1 ½ to 3 years in prison.

Russell is battling health problems and is on disability. She has a “very limited criminal history” with her last misdemeanor from 41 years ago, her attorney Mark Lewis told Punch.

Russell in a previous court appearance admitted to selling hydrocodone and acetaminophen pills on Jan. 29, 2016.

“This is an aberration,” Punch said during sentencing on Monday. “It’s not something you would normally do but you did it and there has to be some consequences.”

Russell also was ordered to pay $89 in restitution to the Orleans County Major Felony Crimes Task Force. She also had her driving privileges suspended for six months.

Maja L. Pugh, 19, of Lockport was sentenced to three years probation for criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. She admitted to using meth at an Albion apartment on April 19.

Pugh is a first-time offender who didn’t have a role in the meth manufacturing, Punch said.

She apologized for the crime in court on Monday.

Punch told Pugh to stay away from drugs.

“It will suck the soul right out of you and destroy you,” Punch said.

The judge also sentenced her to 40 hours of community service and suspended her driving privileges for six months. He said she will be tested regularly while on probation and if there is a positive test she will face a year in jail.

“I can’t stop you from using but here is my therapy for you. If you use, you will go to jail for a year,” Punch said.

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