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Oswegatchie man heading to trial after twice failing to plead guilty to 2012 burglary

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CANTON — An Oswegatchie man accused of participating in several June 2012 burglaries is heading to trial after being unable to comply with a plea deal that would have released him on probation.

On April 23, Robert L. McGuinness, 33, of 10 Browns Falls Road, was expected to plead guilty to a Superior Court Information charge of two counts of the class D felony of third-degree burglary.

It is alleged that on June 16, 2012, Mr. McGuinness entered a garage at 196 County Route 60 in the town of Oswegatchie owned by Langevin Excavation and took a saw and some copper tubing.

As a part of a plea deal with the St. Lawrence County district attorney’s office, Mr. McGuinness would have pleaded guilty to the charges and been placed on one year of interim probation. If that had been completed successfully, one of the burglary charges would have been dismissed and he would have been sentenced to an additional four years’ probation. The plea deal also would satisfy two counts of second-degree burglary pending against him from burglaries that took place on June 17, 19 and 25, 2012.

While Mr. McGuinness told St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards on April 23 that he had no reason to dispute his involvement in the burglaries, he backpedaled and said he never entered the garage and failed to recall specific details of the incident.

Judge Richards refused to accept Mr. McGuinness’s plea at that time, sent him back to St. Lawrence County jail and adjourned the case until Friday.

In court Friday, Mr. McGuinness was given a second chance to accept the plea deal but, before discussing his plea, Judge Richards said Mr. McGuinness wrote him a letter saying he was framed by state police and his alleged cohort, Cody J. Tennant, then 20, who died in a car crash in September in Canton.

“I can’t take a plea from him,” Judge Richards said. “He made it adequately clear that he is innocent of the charges despite his claims here that he is willing to move forward.”

Judge Richards returned Mr. McGuinness to the jail, where he is being held without bail. A trial date hasn’t yet been set.

If convicted at trial, Mr. McGuinness now faces the possibility of up to 15 years in prison on each of the two counts of second-degree burglary and seven years in prison on each of the two counts of third-degree burglary.

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