CANTON — The St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office issued a response Tuesday morning to the discovery of active one-pot methamphetamine labs in Gouverneur last month, criticizing the state’s new bail reform law for allowing the alleged meth lab operator to be released following his arrest.
Gouverneur village police responded to a report of a possible meth lab in the restroom of Stewart’s Shops, 242 E. Main St., on Jan. 26. Upon arrival, police evacuated the store and requested assistance from New York State Contaminated Crime Scene Evidence Recovery Team and Gouverneur Fire Department. Two active one-pot labs were discovered in the restroom, one in a sink, and one in a trash can.
The suspect, Eric J. Fuller, 35, Gouverneur, was apprehended by police that night, and an additional pair of one-pot meth labs was discovered with Mr. Fuller’s backpack behind the Dumpster at Price Chopper, 389 E. Main St. One of those labs was reported to be active.
“Despite the fact that this event created a grave risk to public safety in two separate locations, the newly passed ‘bail reform legislation’ has explicitly excluded these offenses from the list in which the District Attorney’s Office may ask for bail, or for a remand to jail without bail,” the DA’s Office statement reads in part.
The statement cites the volatility of one-pot meth labs and their potential to explode, cause structure fires or cause serious injury as the “grave risk(s) to public safety.”
The statement continues, saying Mr. Fuller “has now been released back into the community despite the danger he poses to the public.”
However, according to the St. Lawrence County jail Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Fuller remains in custody on a grand larceny charge out of the town of Fowler. He was still being held on that charge at the time of this report.
An order to show cause in Mr. Fuller’s case related to the Gouverneur meth charges was heard in St. Lawrence County Court Monday. The court determined Mr. Fuller should be released on the meth charges, as they do not qualify him to be held under the current bail statute, which has garnered criticism from local law enforcement, local and state officials and victims’ rights workers.
The statement from the DA’s Office emphasizes methamphetamine production as a regional issue, one that particularly affects St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties.
Of the state’s 62 counties, St. Lawrence had the highest number of meth production cases in 2019 — with 51 labs involved — followed by Jefferson County with the second highest number of production cases, 38, according to the New York State Intelligence Center. In Albany County, zero meth production cases were reported last year.