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New Jersey man sentenced to prison on heroin charges

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CANTON — One of four men charged in a heroin bust by St. Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies last year was sentenced to state prison Monday in County Court.

Christopher A. Lopez, 23, of Union City, N.J., was sentenced to 2 years in prison by County Judge Jerome J. Richards after his Jan. 14 guilty plea to felony third-degree attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Mr. Lopez was arrested by the county Drug Task Force on Oct. 9, along with Christopher J. Sharp, 23, of 1 Ann St., Norfolk, Allen J. Oshier, 30, of 94 Lincoln Ave., Waddington, and Christopher J. Hughes, 32, of 81 Grantville Road, Norfolk.

The arrest followed a traffic stop on Route 37 in the town of Louisville where a sheriff’s department K-9 unit and deputies said a free-air sniff of the vehicle’s exterior led to the discovery of 21 packets of heroin.

During the arrest, deputies also seized $3,571 from Mr. Lopez.

In court on Monday, Mr. Lopez’s attorney, county Public Defender Stephen D. Button, said his client should be eligible for Willard Drug Treatment Center, Romulus, which focuses on treatment of drug-addicted convicts and is operated by the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

“Mr. Lopez has a substantial drug problem that has not been addressed to date,” Mr. Button said.

Judge Richards said that while Mr. Lopez had previous convictions in 2007 and 2008, he was granted youthful offender status, wiping his record clean. Eligibility for the program requires the defendant to be a second felony offender, the judge said.

Judge Richards said Mr. Lopez could have sought treatment while he was free on bond, but did not.

“So, you have to look at it from my point of view, that it appears that you are trying to avoid more prison time,” he said.

In addition to his prison sentence, Mr. Lopez was sentenced to two years of post-release supervision and was ordered to pay $375 in court fines, fees and surcharges which will be paid from his seized funds.

In other court action Monday:

Derek J. Kellison, 22, of 10 South St., Massena, was sentenced to five years’ probation after his Dec. 19 guilty plea to fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Mr. Kellison sold the narcotic painkiller OxyContin on Jan. 10, 2012, in the town of Brasher.

In addition to his probation sentence, he was ordered to pay $80 in restitution and court fines, fees and surcharges totaling $50.

Garrad P. Rusho, 18, of 364 Talcville Road, Edwards, was placed on one year of interim probation after his Dec. 19 guilty plea to felony third-degree burglary.

On Oct. 1, Mr. Rusho broke into a vacant camp off Talcville Road and took alcoholic beverages.

If he successfully completes interim probation, he will have the opportunity to have his felony plea vacated and plead guilty to a misdemeanor petit larceny charge. He also was ordered to pay $2,959.94 in restitution, and fines, fees and surcharges totaling $295.99.

Anthony P. Culver, 20, of 605 Raquette Road, Potsdam, pleaded guilty to felony third-degree arson.

About 4 a.m. July 25, Mr. Culver stole a white 1988 BMW two-door sedan from a parking area at the rear of 15 Market St., Potsdam, and later set fire to the vehicle to cover up the theft. He was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crime, he told Judge Richards.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 28. Mr. Culver was released under probation supervision.

Joseph G. France, 39, of 195 Pink Schoolhouse Road, Canton, was placed on one year of interim probation supervision after his Dec. 17 guilty plea to felony driving while intoxicated.

Mr. France had a blood alcohol content of 0.14 percent when he was stopped on Oct. 31, 2011, on County Route 21, Canton.

He was convicted of felony DWI in 2007 and misdemeanor DWI in 2009, according to the indictment.

Sentencing was adjourned to Feb. 10.

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