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Massena man sent to prison for attempted rape

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CANTON — A Massena man was sentenced Monday in St. Lawrence County Court to 2 years in prison for attempted rape, but not before he tried to withdraw his guilty plea.

Robert L. Pitts, 54, of 492 S. Main St., pleaded guilty Jan. 3 to a reduced charge of second-degree attempted rape, a class E felony, in a plea deal with the district attorney’s office.

Pitts originally was charged with second-degree rape and second-degree criminal sexual act, accused of ongoing incidents from 2010 to 2012 with a child.

At the time of his arrest, village police said they recovered his cellphone, which provided information about the incidents.

The phone was found during their investigation into a break-in Oct. 2, 2012, at Massena Metals — a case which started as a noise complaint at 7:37 p.m.

County Judge Jerome J. Richards said that as part of the plea deal, Pitts was required to comply with the rules of St. Lawrence County jail, where he was being held, but he violated those rules.

“On Jan. 17, inmate Pierre J. Bond told Officer Mason that Mr. Pitts had pills under his shirt,” Judge Richards read from a report.

After a search, it was determined that Pitts had a singular pill of Neurontin stashed in the hem of his shirt.

Due to his breach of the rules, Judge Richards told Pitts he was no longer bound by his commitment to sentence him to two years in prison.

Pitts then told the judge he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea and sought a hearing.

“Your application to withdraw your plea is denied,” Judge Richards said. “You were fully aware that if you didn’t comply, you would face a more severe punishment than what I was originally committed to.”

Pitts’s attorney, Bradford C. Riendeau, asked the judge to consider that his client was “an old man” and that “the end of his life is in sight” due to medical conditions that were not specified in court.

“Mr. Riendeau may be right about your age and physical condition, but I look at the facts in this case and you could be 100 years old and nothing would change,” Judge Richards told Pitts.

“I find it incredible that the child was 12 years old, so I find it incredible and impossible that she would have made it up,” Judge Richards said. “You can make up stories about what you did to this young female, claiming it was only touching, (but) you are not fooling anyone; you may be fooling yourself.”

Pitts was sentenced as a second-felony offender.

He had been sentenced to one to three years in state prison in November 2003 for third-degree burglary.

In addition to his prison sentence, Pitts was ordered to pay $1,425 in court fines, fees and surcharges and was sentenced to five years of post-release supervision.

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