CANTON — The chance to avoid prison was lost for a Hermon man charged in connection with a Potsdam fire that injured two firefighters.

Matthew N. Foote, 29, of 36 Northwoods Road, Hermon, was sentenced Friday in St. Lawrence County Court to five years in prison with two years of post-release supervision for his conviction of felony third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He also must pay more than $60,000 in restitution.

The charges are in connection with the Feb. 20 fire at 39½ Pine St., Potsdam, that caused an explosion, blowing out two windows on the second floor of the two-story building next to the Pine Street Arena.

Two firefighters were injured in the fire. One had a compound fracture and the other a knee injury. Both were treated at Canton-Potsdam Hospital.

A search warrant was obtained from Potsdam Town Court and police discovered a methamphetamine lab.

During sentencing, County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards, reading from a pre-sentence investigation prepared by probation officials, said Mr. Foote took no responsibility when asked about the two firefighters and attributed their injuries to “their own clumsiness.”

Mr. Foote was originally charged by Potsdam Village Police with third-degree manufacturing methamphetamine, two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Mr. Foote told the judge he didn’t recall making such a statement and asked after the well-being of the firefighters, saying, “I’m sorry for the firefighters ... I take responsibility for that.”

Additionally, Judge Richards read through a series of accounts where Mr. Foote left two different treatment facilities after he was written up for interactions with female clients, which was not allowed.

Following his departure from the last treatment facility, the court issued a warrant for his arrest. He was picked up in Rensselaer County where he was arrested for driving while intoxicated.

As part of the original the plea deal, Mr. Foote was given a chance at participating in inpatient, substance-abuse treatment and the court’s Judicial Diversion Program.

If he had successfully completed treatment and the program, Mr. Foote would have gotten the chance to avoid prison and be sentenced to five years of probation.

In addition to his prison sentence, he must pay restitution in the amount of $60,776.96. Court fines, fees and surcharges of $3,413.83 are reduced to judgment and will be deducted from his prison earnings.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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