District Attorney’s Office Forced To Cut Services

For Immediate Release: August 17, 2015  

The recent decision by the County Legislators to cut another prosecutor has placed the District Attorney’s Office at dangerously low staffing levels, and forced District Attorney Mary E. Rain to take emergency measures in order to continue to prosecute felonies, misdemeanors, and violations.

“The Board’s vote to cut another prosecutor has put the District Attorney’s Office at lower staffing levels than the previous administration, and has left me with the unfortunate dilemma of either not prosecuting all of my cases or finding a way to free up more prosecutors to handle the crushing caseload”, said DA Rain.  

In an effort to ensure that all cases in her office continue to receive attention, DA Rain has instituted the following emergency measures:

Effective August 24, 2015, appearances by prosecutors in town, village, and city courts throughout the county will be temporarily suspended for a period of six months, at which point the office will reevaluate it’s position.  Prosecutors, however, will continue to appear in town, village, and city courts to conduct scheduled hearings and trials. 

Additionally, in step with DA Rain’s commitment to keeping her prosecutors accessible to the community, the District Attorney’s Office will begin holding weekly traffic violation office hours at the County Courthouse on Mondays from 3pm to 5pm and Wednesdays from 9am to 11am.  At these office hours, citizens seeking a reduction for non-DWI traffic infractions can meet with a prosecutor on a walk-in basis.

“Despite the absence of adequate resources, my office remains unwavering in its commitment to public safety.   I’m proud of my staff, and confident that they will continue to proudly serve the citizens of St. Lawrence County.”



 

Caleb Rayburn Pleads Guilty Before the Honorable Jerome J. Richards

For Immediate Release: May 5, 2015

After 6 days of trial, Caleb Rayburn pleads guilty on all counts of the 2014 Indictment for Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree, a Class A-II Felony and Unlawful Manufacture of Methamphetamine in the Third Degree, a Class D Felony.

Rayburn was arrested on May 27, 2014 in the town of Gouverneur with co-defendants Jackie Reynolds, Randy Reynolds, and Jessie Young. The three co-defendants’ cases were resolved prior to trial.

Rayburn is to be sentenced to 8 years for Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree and 4 years on the Unlawful Manufacture of Methamphetamine in the Third Degree. County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards will pronounce sentence on June 2, 2015 at 8:15 a.m. This case concludes one of the very first meth labs taken down by the St. Lawrence County Drug Task Force.

 Chief Assistant District Attorney David Haggard and Assistant District Attorney Sara Clothier tried the case. Based on the evidence they presented and additional evidence uncovered by District Attorney Investigator Daniel Manor, Mr. Rayburn decided to plead guilty.

 District Attorney Mary Rain stated “The District Attorney’s office worked closely with the St. Lawrence County Drug Task Force to bring an extremely successful conclusion to St. Lawrence County’s first conviction of this type. We will continue to aggressively prosecute meth lab producers as well as the growing drug epidemic that plagues this County.”

 


 

DA Mary Rain Secures Another "Guilty on all Charges" DWI Verdict

For Immediate Release: May 1, 2015

In May of 2014, Charles D. Larue Jr. was charged with Driving While Intoxicated, as well as other traffic infractions, in the Town of Lisbon.   During the investigation, the Defendant recorded a Blood Alcohol Content of .12%.

Yesterday, after less than 5 minutes of deliberation, a Lisbon jury returned a verdict of “guilty on all charges,” handing DA Mary Rain her third trial victory since the inception of Rob’s Policy. 

DA Rain reiterated her strong commitment to public safety stating, “Reducing the number of DWI related offenses in St. Lawrence County, is a top priority for my administration, and the aggressive prosecution of DWI offenses is a necessary means to that end.”    



 

Elvis E. Pigott Sentenced To Four And A Half Years In State Prison

For Immediate Release: February 2, 2015

Today Judge Jerome Richards sentenced Elvis E. Pigott to four and a half years in State Prison with two years Post Release Supervision.

Pigott was charged with Criminal Possession of a controlled substance in the Third Degree and Criminal Possession with intent to sell in the Third Degree.

Chief Assistant District Attorney David Haggard stated “We are pleased that Mr. Pigott will be off the street and will be going to State Prison for a substantial period of time, closing at least one source of drugs poisoning the Massena community.”



 

Oral Nicholas Hillary Arraigned On Second Murder Indictment

For Immediate Release: February 2, 2015

Oral Nicholas Hillary was arraigned today by County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards on a single charge of Murder in the 2nd degree. The indictment alleges that between 4:56 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Oct. 24, 2011, Hillary murdered Garrett Phillips by suffocation and strangulation in the boy’s home at 100 Market St., Apt. 4, Potsdam.

“Consistent with the May 2014 grand jury and Judge Jerome J. Richards ruling of October 16, 2014, a second grand jury found sufficient evidence to indict Oral Nicholas Hillary for murder in the second degree,” stated St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary E. Rain .

Hillary was arraigned with counsel and entered a not-guilty plea. The court continued Hillary on $150,000 bond along with additional provisions under the supervision of probation. Motions were filed in court with a return date of February 17, 2015.

 


 

Robert Petrie Accepts 30 Years In Prison

For Immediate Release: January 30, 2015

On March 25, 2014 Robert M. Petrie was arrested by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department for Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree in the town of Macomb. He was accused of sexual acts against a 12 year old boy.

 On January 30, 2015, Robert M. Petrie pleads guilty to 5 counts of criminal sexual acts in the 1st degree, class “B” violent felonies.

 Judge Jerome Richards committed to sentence the defendant Robert M. Petrie to 30 years in State Prison with an additional 10 years of Post Release Supervision.

 District Attorney Mary Rain stated, “I am pleased with the outcome of the case and believe justice has been served. This plea will relieve Petrie’s young victim from having to testify and relive those horrible acts. The family is satisfied that Mr. Petrie will no longer be in a position to harm anymore children.”

 


 

DA Rain Secures DWI Conviction Reinforcing Pledge to Public Safety

For Immediate Release: November 18, 2014

In her first DWI trial since the inception of the new policy (Rob’s Policy), the St. Lawrence County District Attorney stood firm on her promise to aggressively prosecute DWI offenses.

In June of 2014, Trisha Chapman was charged with Driving While Intoxicated, as well as other traffic infractions, when she collided with and injured a motorcyclist in the Town of Stockholm.   During the personal injury motor vehicle accident investigation, Chapman recorded a Blood Alcohol Content of .16%, or twice the legal limit. 

After brief deliberation, a Stockholm jury returned a verdict of guilty on all charges, reinforcing DA Rain’s pledge to public safety. “Reducing the number of DWI related offenses in St. Lawrence County is a top priority for my administration, and the aggressive prosecution of DWI offenses is a necessary means to that end,” DA Rain stated after trial. 

 


 

DA Mary Rain Determined to Re-indict Oral Nicholas Hillary

For Immediate Release: November 13, 2014

After considering all the options and after consulting the Phillips and Collins family, District Attorney Mary Rain has determined to re-indict Oral Nicholas Hillary.  When considering the option to appeal, DA Rain said, “it could take an additional 18 months before the family received justice and that is unacceptable.”  The process to re-indict will start Monday.   

 


 

Victims Outraged By County Court Judge's Decisions

For Immediate Release: October 6, 2014
 
District Attorney Mary Rain states the decision by County Court Judge Jerome Richards to dismiss two indictments on Friday ignored the facts and wrongly applied the law. “I find these dismissals, as well as Judge Richards’ decision last week to dismiss several counts of the indictment against Robert Petrie, a Macomb man accused of sexually assaulting a 12 year old child, deeply troubling.
The two indictments dismissed by Judge Richards on Friday involved Joseph A. Back II, a man indicted for vehicular assault, and Gary Rousaw, a man indicted for sexually assaulting a 7 and 8 year old. After speaking with the victims of these crimes, Rain said they are outraged that the judge dismissed the indictments by discounting the facts provided by the District Attorney’s Office and only looking at those provided by the defense. “If there are facts in dispute, as there were in the indictments that were dismissed, a hearing is required so the judge may hear testimony. That was simply not done in these cases.”
The Petrie decision provided inconsistencies where the judge ruled the grand jury testimony was insufficient to warrant charges, and in the same decision then provided they were sufficient. The judge, later in the week, amended his own decision.
Rain states, “In the Back case, Judge Richards relied on the statement of defense counsel that the Tribal Police had arrested the defendant, and ruled that the Tribal Police had no right to do so. However, the People stated the defendant was not placed under arrest, but rather detained as a fleeing felon, and NY law allows any citizen in this state to detain a fleeing felon until the police arrive. Without having sworn testimony by holding a hearing the judge only relied on the statement of the defense attorney.”  
Additionally, in the Rousaw case, Judge Richards ruled that a speedy trial waiver signed by the defendant’s attorney with a copy provided to the defendant was an insufficient waiver. “This flies in the face of well settled case law that allows the defense attorney to do just that so they may have time to negotiate with the District Attorney’s Office before the case is presented to Grand Jury,” Rain stated.
“These decisions make no sense and simply fail to follow New York Law” Rain said. “The People will appeal these decisions. “I believe that Judge Richards has inappropriately dismissed cases, and when he does so by not following the law or allowing the District Attorney’s Office to be heard, my office will relentlessly fight to protect the rights of victims by appealing his decisions.”

Background Information

Gary Rousaw, 55 years old of Massena
Indicted on Two counts of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree. It is alleged that on December 7, 2013, the defendant did have sexual contact with a 7 years old and 8 year old at his residence, that is he placed his finger in her vagina.

Joseph A. Back II, 54 years old of Hogansburg
Indicted on Assault in the First Degree and Second Degree; Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree; Vehicular Assualt in the First Degree; Vehicluar Assault in the Second Degree (2 counts); Aggravated DWI (misdemeanor); and DWI (2 counts, misdemeanors). It’s alleged that on March 27, 2014 the defendant while driving with a blood alcohol content of .26 while on Rt 37 in Massena, ran into the rear of one vehicle and while fleeing that scene went head-on into another vehicle causing that driver very serious and life threatening injuries.
 
Robert M. Petrie, Jr. 44 years old of Macomb
Indicted on mutliple counts of sexually assaulting a 12 year old in his home.

 


 

St. Lawrence County District Attorney DWI Policy

For Immediate Release: August 21, 2014
 
Over the course of thirty years in the criminal justice system I have worked with many victims of crimes. This has affected me both professionally and personally. Thirty years ago, when I became a police officer, my very first act after receiving my uniform was attending my partner’s funeral. Officer Robert “Rob” Parkhurst was killed in a head-on crash with a drunk driver. I have seen firsthand the devastation this drunk driver caused the Parkhurst family.

Unfortunately, this type of life altering event continues today. Since the first of the year the District Attorney’s Office of St. Lawrence County has handled four homicides caused by drunk or drugged drivers. Four families have lost loved ones whose deaths were entirely preventable. 
Even when a victim survives a drunk or drugged driver the physical injuries sustained provide not only pain and suffering but emotional distress, financial hardships and loss of careers.

Death and injuries decrease when DWI laws are strictly enforced. Due to the many deaths and physical injuries from drunk and drugged drivers in this county, the District Attorney’s Office is taking a hard stance on arrests for DWI and DWAI Drugs. This epidemic is not caused by the person who has alcohol or drug addictions, it is caused by a choice to get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

To honor the memory of my friend, Robert Parkhurst, I am creating “Rob’s Policy.” There will be no reductions for anyone who has a blood alcohol content greater than .10 % BAC, felonies or Leandra Law arrests. First time offenders whose BAC is .10% or less have an opportunity for reductions after completion of alcohol and/or drug treatment.

Rob’s Policy will provide a strong message of severe consequences to ones liberty, license or finances. It is my hope that people who chose to become intoxicated will also chose not to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. The inconvenience of having a friend or taxi drive them home is fleeting compared to the consequences to other innocent drivers in their path.

 


 

Defendant Admits to Fatal Hit-and-Run to Receive Maximum Sentence Allowable Under the Law

For Immediate Release: July 30, 2014

Today in St. Lawrence County Court, Devin B. Ferguson-Brenno pled to the top count of the indictment which charged him with Vehicular Manslaughter in the second degree. On August 4th of 2013 Ferguson- Brenno struck and killed Benjamin Schick of Lancaster, New York, on County Route 6 in the Town of Morristown.  The Defendant then fled the scene leaving Mr. Schick to die.

Ferguson-Brenno told County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards that before getting into his car to drive, he consumed six to eight beers, smoked marijuana, and did cocaine as well as opiates.  He then told the judge he hit something and just kept going.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Haberkornhalm asked for and the judge agreed to sentence Ferguson-Brenno to the maximum allowable sentence under New York law, which is two and one third to seven years in state prison.  Sentencing is scheduled for September 8th, 2014 at 9:15 in the morning.

District Attorney Mary Rain stated “this has been a long and painful ordeal for the family of Mr. Schick and it is my sincerest hope that today’s plea to the top count will provide some solace and emotional relief to his family.”  She also stated, “this outcome should be a message, if you are high and behind the wheel, we will seek justice and where appropriate the maximum sentence that the law provides.”

 

 


 

DA Rain Files Fifty Count Indictment for Repeated Sexual Abuse of 12 Year Old Child

For Immediate Release: 6-23-2014

A fifty count indictment was handed up today on Robert M. Petrie, Jr., for the repeated sexual assault of a 12 year old child.  Petrie is 44 years old and lives on 6 Bailey Road, Hammond, NY.

“The predatory sexual assault of a child is an utterly reprehensible act,” said District Attorney Mary Rain.  “These types of crimes demand that the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office send a swift and forceful message that those who prey on helpless children will be held accountable for their actions.”

The defendant is charged in St. Lawrence County Court with twenty-four counts of Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child (a class A-II Felony), twenty-four counts of Criminal Sexual Acts in the First Degree (a class B felony), one count of Course of Sexual Conduct Against a Child in the First Degree (a class B felony), and one count of Endangering the Welfare of Child (a class A Misdemeanor).  Each A-II felony carries with it a 25-to-life sentence. 

“Keeping the children of St. Lawrence County safe is a top priority for my office.  Getting these types of predators off the streets is the first step in achieving this goal,” said District Attorney Rain.

District Attorney Rain also thanked members of the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department for their diligent work and thorough investigation.

 


 

 

Central Trades and Labor Council Backs Space Request by DA Rain

For Immediate Release: 6-9-2014

Last Friday evening, June 6, 2014, the Jefferson, Lewis, & St. Lawrence Counties Central Trades and Labor Council, AFL-CIO held their monthly meeting at Mullin’s Restaurant in Gouverneur, NY.

St. Lawrence District Attorney, Mary Rain was invited to attend and address the Council.  Following Ms. Rain’s well received comments a Resolution was brought to the floor by Labor Council Presidents, Ronald P. McDougall.  The Resolution called for the St. Lawrence Legislators to approve the proposed relocation of the St. Lawrence District Attorney’s Office to the space requested by the District Attorney.

The Resolution was unanimously approved by the Central Trade and Labor Council.  District Attorney Rain commented, “I was both delighted and encouraged by the Council’s unanimous support for this important issue.  Since taking office I have been committed to a robust and comprehensive approach to combating crime in St. Lawrence County.  I was glad to see that the Council recognized the proposed expansion as a necessary step towards achieving this mission.”

 

 

 


 

 

 

 





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