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Man pleads not guilty in alleged theft of over $17,000 from priest

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CANTON — The Ogdensburg man charged with stealing over $17,000 in checks from a city priest pleaded not guilty during arraignment in St. Lawrence County Court Tuesday morning.

Jesse G. Austin, 34, of 212 Montgomery St., is being charged with one count of third-degree grand larceny, a class D felony and nine counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, also class D felonies.

Mr. Austin was drug tested prior to arraignment and tested positive for Suboxone. He told St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards that he once had a prescription for the drug that is used to treat opiate addiction, and still takes it on occasion. Mr. Austin appeared in court having been released on $3,000 jail after his May 16 arrest by Ogdensburg police for allegedly stealing and cashing $17,460 in nine separate checks on nine separate dates between Dec. 21 and April 1 from the Community Bank N.A. account of the Rev. Edward E. Papp.

Judge Richards exonerated Mr. Austin’s bail and released him from court Tuesday under probation supervision. As a part of the terms and conditions of that release Mr. Austin was ordered to get an evaluation at chemical dependency and comply with the recommended treatment.

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