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Hermon man gets one year in jail on child-endangerment plea

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CANTON — A Hermon man was sentenced to one year in jail after a St. Lawrence County judge was told he could not vacate his guilty plea Monday.

Frank W. Brown, 63, of 1162 County Route 21, Hermon, had his Aug. 6 guilty plea to endangering the welfare of a child vacated on Oct. 15 by County Judge Jerome J. Richards after he recanted his admission.

A trial date was set for Brown, originally indicted on charges of engaging in two or more acts of sexual conduct with a 10-year-old child from September 2010 to May 2011.

He was facing charges of second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

In a plea deal with the district attorney’s office, Brown was to plead guilty to the second, lesser charge in that indictment. But that plea was vacated by Judge Richards after Brown denied wrongdoing to probation officials.

On Monday, when Brown’s trial was scheduled to begin, Judge Richards was told he was unable to vacate Brown’s plea without the consent of Brown, who, despite what he told probation officials, didn’t ask the court to do so.

Case law says that if the defendant doesn’t consent to vacate a plea and is not misleading the court or misrepresenting facts, the judge cannot vacate a plea, District Attorney Nicole M. Duve said. Based on that research, Judge Richards had to reinstate Brown’s guilty plea.

“The victim’s family was very pleased that the child didn’t have to go to trial and testify and that they can start putting this incident behind them,” Ms. Duve said.

In addition to his jail sentence, Brown was ordered to pay $250 in court fines, fees and surcharges.

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