Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

January 16, 2013

Man who disagrees with law sentenced

BY JOE OLENICK
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A city man was sentenced for growing marijuana, breaking the very law he said needs to change.

Jeffery R. Thomas, 48, of Webb Street, will serve six months in Niagara County Jail following his sentencing Tuesday in Niagara County Court.

Judge Matthew J. Murphy read portions of the probation pre-sentence report to Thomas, noting sections where the office said Thomas wouldn’t take responsibility for his actions and thought the marijuana laws in New York state needed to be changed.

But, the judge also mentioned the number of letters he received in support of Thomas. William Berard, Thomas’ lawyer, said probation spent a small amount of time with Thomas, while the letters came from those who knew him well.

“It’s like we’re looking at two different people,” Berard said.

“I realize I made a tremendous mistake,” Thomas said.

When asked by Murphy about his view on marijuana laws, Thomas said he felt they needed to change.

“Ask a lot of people, a lot would say so too,” Thomas said. “I don’t think I’m different.”

Murphy said he agreed with the pre-sentence report and its view of Thomas.

“Those are the laws on the book,” he said.

Thomas admitted to second-degree criminal possession of marijuana at a November court hearing. Back in August, the county Drug Task Force raided Thomas’ former home on Youngstown-Lockport Road in Porter and found he had been growing marijuana outdoors. Officers found over 10 pounds of it.

• In another case before Murphy, a Lockport man was sentenced for another drug charge.

Kurtis R. Washington, 22, of Cottage Street, will serve one-and-a-half years in state prison. In November, he pleaded guilty to fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. He sold crack cocaine in December 2011 in Lockport.

Washington already is serving a state prison sentence for another drug conviction.

• In state court action Tuesday, a Newfane woman will come back before Justice Richard C. Kloch, Sr. on Feb. 26 for sentencing in a burglary case.

Sasha N. Botting, 24, of Hatter Road, turned down the court’s drug treatment program prior to Tuesday’s appearance.

Kloch called Botting’s pre-sentence report “alarming,” noting she was sliding downhill with her drug issues. Botting also failed a drug test in court Tuesday.

So, Kloch said, an in-patient program would be what Botting needed. He gave Botting interim probation and will send her to the Clearview treatment program at Mount St. Mary’s in Lewiston this week.

“You’re worth fighting for,” the judge said.

Botting pleaded guilty in November in State Supreme Court to burglarizing her next-door neighbor’s home Aug. 2 and making off with about $700 worth of jewelry and cash. The charge was third-degree burglary, a class D felony.

Travis J. Watts, 28, who was a co-defendant in the burglary, was placed in the judicial diversion drug treatment program last month.