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Massena teen sent to prison for probation violations

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CANTON — A Massena teen was sentenced to state prison Monday after he again was found in possession of heroin and cocaine, a violation of his probation.

Damion A. Giarratano, 19, of 94 Woodlawn Ave., was sentenced in St. Lawrence County Court by Judge Jerome J. Richards to 113 to 4 years in prison after his July 12 guilty plea to third-degree criminal mischief.

Mr. Giarratano appeared in court on a warrant after he failed to report to probation as ordered, and failed to get evaluated by chemical dependency.

Judge Richards said the final straw, however, came when state police picked him up on a warrant Jan. 20 at a 9 County Route 36 residence in Chase Mills. When troopers searched him, he was found to be in possession of nine packets of a “white powdery substance,” police said.

On Tuesday, a lab test came back with results finding the substance to contain both heroin and cocaine. After he was sentenced on the criminal mischief charge, Mr. Giarratano was charged by state police with felony fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

On Monday, Judge Richards told Mr. Giarratano he not only was going to have his probation sentence vacated and get time in prison, but he no longer would be eligible for youthful offender status, which would have wiped his record clean of the charge against him after he served his sentence.

Mr. Giarratano originally had been indicted on a felony count of second-degree criminal mischief stemming from an incident June 18, 2012. Police said he entered a bus parked behind the New Testament Church, Massena, and broke approximately nine windows with a fire extinguisher at 12:45 p.m. that day.

He pleaded guilty to the lesser criminal mischief count in July.

Mr. Giarratano’s attorney, county Public Defender Stephen D. Button, asked the judge to consider the youthfulness of his client as well as the youthfulness of his decisions.

Mr. Giarratano told the judge that he was aware of his consistent failures.

“I’ve failed tremendously, over and over again,” Mr. Giarratano told Judge Richards. “I’m sorry I messed up. I know that you have given me multiple chances.”

Mr. Giarratano asked the judge for leniency in sentencing him, but Judge Richards told him he “just didn’t get it.”

“Either that or you don’t want to get it; I don’t know which it is,” Judge Richards said. “You blew us off and that is fine, but today is the day that you learn that, when you blow people off, there are consequences.”

Mr. Button requested that Judge Richards recommend Mr. Giarratano for any prison programs including those related to chemical dependency.

“The only thing he will be attempting to do by engaging in programs is get out of prison,” Judge Richards said. “He belongs in prison.”

Mr. Giarratano also was ordered to pay $10,108.73 in restitution.

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