Putnam Heroin Dealer Sentenced to 40 Years After Failing Treatment Program
CARMEL, N.Y. – A heroin dealer with a prior felony drug conviction and multiple misdemeanors was sentenced to 40 years in state prison on Jan. 30 by Putnam County Supreme Court Justice James F. Reitz.
Stefano DiMicheli, 26, of Montrose in Westchester County, had a previous conviction in 2008 for felony attempted drug sales. When members of the county’s Narcotics Enforcement Unit attempted to arrest him on Dec. 1, 2011 for multiple heroin sales throughout Putnam County, he fled after initially scuffling with police officers. He was captured that same day, and found to have 35 bags of heroin and 19 bags of crack cocaine in his possession.
Facing four felony drug-sale charges, DiMicheli applied and was accepted into the Judicial Diversion program. Judicial Diversion allows some non-violent drug offenders to seek addiction treatment instead of jail time. The program requires defendants to enter a guilty plea and sign a contract, with the understanding that if they successfully complete the program their plea can be vacated and reduced to a misdemeanor. However, failure to successfully complete the program results in a prison sentence in accordance with their plea.
When he entered the program, DiMicheli pleaded guilty to four counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, class B felonies. He knew he faced up to 12 years for each count if he failed the program. DiMicheli’s stint in judicial diversion was marked by multiple failed drug tests, refusals to attend treatment, and other arrests, culminating in federal drug conspiracy and gun charges. Following a hearing on his multiple violations, Reitz ruled DiMicheli violated the terms of his Judicial Diversion contract, and expelled him from the program. On Thursday, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for each of the four counts, served consecutively, with three years of post-release supervision and more than $5,000 in fines and fees.
Putnam District Attorney Adam Levy said judicial diversion is not intended for hardcore drug dealers, and said their participation in the program creates serious risk for other participants who genuinely desire to get clean. Levy praised the strong sentence and said he hoped it would send a message to other drug offenders about the seriousness of the program.
“Judicial diversion has helped many people who battle the disease of addiction get clean and become productive members of society. However, when someone continues to deal drugs while in the program, placing in danger those in the program who are committed to sobriety, they must be removed from the program and taken off the streets,” Levy said. “We applaud Judge Reitz’s decision, and hope it serves as a deterrent to others who don’t take the program seriously.”
In court, Putnam County Assistant District Attorney Sarah Crabtree called on the judge to impose a harsh sentence, given DiMicheli’s disregard for the program.
“We gave him an opportunity, and Your Honor, with all due respect, he absolutely squandered his opportunity here,” Crabtree said. “He has multiple violations… (which) all culminated in him being indicted federally for being part of a narcotics conspiracy ring.”
Crabtree pointed out DiMicheli’s time in Judicial Diversion was marked by multiple failed drug tests, refusals to attend intensive outpatient treatment, refusals to contact his treatment coordinator and new arrests. In March 2013, he was arrested by the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force, following an intensive investigation lead by Detective Peter Kelly of the Westchester County Police. During that arrest, federal agents found a loaded gun, and a large amount of heroin and cash.
“We knew going in it was going to be a stretch, it was going to be tough. We took you at your word. We gave you many opportunities. We worked with you,” Judge Reitz said at sentencing. “I thank God that you didn’t kill anybody along the way or seriously injure them… What we have here is a serious disregard and responsibility for one’s actions. Now there are consequences. “
“I have to tell you it’s going to be tough and this is…one of the worst sentences that I have had to impose in my eight years on this bench,” Reitz continued. “I am not moved in any way other than to protect the people of our community, and that is now my job and my obligation to sentence you accordingly.”
Reitz closed the sentencing by telling DiMicheli, “You sir, I don’t know what you’re going to do. I will tell you now this team fought for you and you were given an opportunity that you really squandered and the privilege you just violated. That’s why you’re being held accountable today.”
DA Levy supported the Judges’ decision. “While we support addiction treatment in many cases, this is one situation in which the defendant’s behavior became increasingly serious over time, and his actions showed he was motivated only to sell drugs, not get clean,” Levy said. “Allowing a dealer like this to remain in a program for people who want to break free from their addictions is like letting the fox into the hen house. This harsh sentence was the right one, and I hope it sends a message that Judicial Diversion is not something to be taken lightly.”