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Watertown man faces prison time for cocaine sale attempt

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A Watertown man was sentenced Friday in Jefferson County Court to up to four years in state prison for trying to sell cocaine and violating probation.

Robert W. Murphy Jr., 46, whose last known address was 307 Gotham St., also was ordered to undergo an additional two years of supervision upon his release for a Sept. 14 guilty plea to third-degree attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance. He admitted that he tried to sell the drug Dec. 16.

At the time, he was serving five years’ probation imposed in November 2009 after guilty pleas to first- and second-degree criminal contempt. In that instance, he was accused of twice violating City Court orders of protection held by an unidentified Watertown woman. Judge Kim H. Martusewicz mandated that he serve his sentence in the prison system’s Willard Drug Rehabilitation Program. If an inmate completes the 90-day program, he serves the remainder of his sentence under parole supervision.

In other court activity Friday:

Winston A. Strachan, 33, who provided police with a Miami Gardens, Fla., address, was sentenced to 3 years in prison, followed by two years’ post-release supervision, for a Sept. 7 guilty plea to third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. He admitted that he sold cocaine Jan. 18 within the county. Judge Martusewicz mandated that he serve the sentence in the Willard program. According to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision website, Mr. Strachan was sentenced in 1996 in Kings County to two to six years in prison for burglary and attempted grand larceny convictions. He served two years and was released under parole supervision.

Steven E. Hamm, 40, Marion, N.C., formerly of Watertown, pleaded guilty to third-degree attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance. He admitted that he possessed heroin with the intent to sell the drug Sept. 23 in Watertown. He is expected to be sentenced Nov. 5 to four years in prison, with a Willard program mandate.

Chad M. Gaffney, 29, Adams, pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted assault. He admitted that on June 1 in the town of Adams he tried to cause physical injury to his wife, Whitney, by striking her with a metal basket. Police said at the time that Mrs. Gaffney suffered a cut above her left eye, requiring stitches.

He is expected to be sentenced Nov. 26 as a second felony offender to 1 to 3 years in prison. He was sentenced in County Court in February 2007 to a prison term of up to four years for third-degree burglary. He was out of prison in January 2008 when he was charged with a parole violation, and was returned to state custody. His sentence concluded in December 2010, according to the prison system’s website.

Jamie L. Thorne, 22, Watertown, pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal contempt and admitted violating probation. She admitted that she violated an order of protection by going to a Huntington Street apartment where the protected parties lived on Aug. 4 and that she violated probation by committing the new crime. She was sentenced June 4 in County Court to time served at the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building and five years’ probation after she pleaded guilty to first- and second-degree counts of criminal contempt for two incidents. In January, she punched her husband, Brian M., in the face, and in March she made threatening phone calls to him. She is expected to be sentenced Nov. 30 as a second-felony offender to a year in the PSB.

Billy Joe Simmons, 34, Watertown, pleaded guilty to third-degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon. He admitted that on July 24 in Watertown he tried to possess a kitchen knife with the intent to use it unlawfully against Suzanne E. Szatanek. He is expected to be sentenced Nov. 30 an unspecified amount of time served at the PSB and five years’ probation.

In court activity Thursday, Daniel G. Greene, 49, Black River, pleaded guilty to felony aggravated driving while intoxicated and was referred to Drug Court. He admitted driving while intoxicated June 24 on Route 3 in the town of Rutland.

District Attorney Cindy F. Intschert said that if Mr. Greene successfully completes the substance abuse rehabilitation program designed to serve as an alternative to incarceration, his felony DWI conviction will be vacated and he will be allowed to plead guilty to the charge as a misdemeanor. He then would face a sentence of three years’ probation, a $1,000 fine and revocation of his driver’s license.

He also would have to either serve 10 days in the PSB or perform 60 days of community service. If he is unsuccessful in the program, he faces a sentence of 1 to 4 years in prison, a $3,500 fine and revocation of his license.

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