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Convicted rapist going to prison on charges involving bad checks

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CANTON — A convicted rapist is headed back to state prison following a $6,000 bad-check spree across the north country last spring.

Mark J. Buffham, 40, formerly of Pollack Road, pleaded guilty this week in Franklin County Court, Malone, to charges in that county, and is scheduled to appear in St. Lawrence County Court this morning in connection with additional charges. He is being held in the Franklin County jail, Malone, pending transfer to state prison.

Police said in May that Buffham used a closed North Country Savings Bank account to cash three checks at Ward Lumber in Malone and one check at Alix’s True Value in Chateaugay, as well as cashing six checks at a Sears store and at Mid-State Industrial Supply, both in Malone.

He was arrested in late April after allegedly writing a worthless $2,000 check to Frenchie’s Ford on East Orvis Street, Massena, as a deposit for a test drive. Police said he was allowed to drive a used Chevrolet pickup home from the dealership with the understanding that he would return it the next day, which he failed to do.

Buffham appeared before Franklin County Judge Robert G. Main Jr. on Monday, pleading guilty to first-degree scheme to defraud. The judge sentenced him, as a second-felony offender, to a term of two to four years in state prison, as well as $6,091 in restitution.

A Norfolk man also connected with the case entered a guilty plea in a separate Franklin County Court proceeding this week. Gerald L. Dissottle Sr., 42, was discovered to have tools Buffham purchased from one of the stores with a bad check, police said. Mr. Dissottle pleaded guilty to fifth-degree possession of stolen property, for which he received a year’s conditional discharge and was ordered to make restitution of $3,372. Other charges against him are still pending.

Buffham, meanwhile, is to appear today in Canton before Judge Jerome J. Richards on a superior court information charge of third-degree burglary in St. Lawrence County.

That venue should be a familiar one for Buffham. It was there, on Nov. 8, 1999, that then-County Judge Eugene L. Nicandri sentenced him to a 1- to 3-year prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to sodomizing a 14-year-old girl.

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