Recusal of judge denied in meth case

CANTON — An Ogdensburg man charged with felony methamphetamine charges was denied his request that the St. Lawrence County Court judge recuse himself from handling his case.

Michael L. Vernsey, 36, of 1223 Mechanic St., currently an inmate at the St. Lawrence County jail, is charged with an A-II felony of second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and third-degree unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine, a class D felony.

The indictment charges on March 25 in the city of Ogdensburg, Mr. Vernsey possessed equipment and material to manufacture methamphetamine.

Having pleaded not guilty to the charge on Aug. 5, Mr. Vernsey became upset during his Thursday appearance before County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards.

He told the judge that he had mental health issues and spoke to the judge against the advice of his attorney, Daniel C. Ramsey.

He said Judge Richards was being unfair and that he felt he was being maliciously prosecuted and he believed his “co-defendant rights” were being violated due to an order of protection that was issued in favor of his co-defendant, Sarah L. Ashley, but Judge Richards informed him that no such rights existed.

The judge said he issued the order of protection in favor of Ms. Ashley because part of her plea deal required her to cooperate with the district attorney’s office in their case against him.

On May 8, Ms. Ashley pleaded guilty to third-degree unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in a plea deal with the district attorney’s office that will satisfy an additional charge of second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. She will be sentenced to four years in prison and two years of post-release supervision.

Additionally, Mr. Vernsey complained about a plea offer that would result in him serving six years in prison for the A-II felony, calling himself a drug addict and that he is being denied access to the court’s drug program.

He was told that he wasn’t eligible for the program due to the nature of his crime unless prosecutors waived the restriction.

“I’m done,” Mr. Vernsey said. “I feel you shouldn’t be on this trial.”

“So noted,” Judge Richards said. “Your request for a recusal is denied.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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