Press-Republican

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October 10, 2013

County wins its first aggravated family offense case

PLATTSBURGH — In its first prosecution of aggravated family offense, a Clinton County jury convicted a Plattsburgh man recently of that charge and criminal contempt.

The Aggravated Family Offense Law is aimed at preventing individuals from persistently committing misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence and escaping felony prosecution, according to a news release from the Clinton County District Attorney's Office.

The law, enacted in January, makes it a felony to commit domestic-violence crimes within five years of each other.

After a trial in Clinton County Court, Richard B. Shortell, 52, of Plattsburgh was found guilty of both counts of an indictment charging him with second-degree criminal contempt, a misdemeanor, and aggravated family offense, a felony, the District Attorney's Office said in the release.

Clinton County Assistant District Attorney Nicolas Evanovich prosecuted the case, and Judge Timothy J. Lawliss presided. Shortell was represented by attorney Dave Albers.

VIOLATED PROTECTION ORDER

On May 5, Shortell's long-time girlfriend called 911 after he came to see her near the Pioneer Motel in the Town of Plattsburgh despite a stay-away order of protection, the District Attorney's Office said.

When State Police arrived, Shortell told troopers numerous times that he did not care about the order of protection and would continue to violate it so he could be with his girlfriend, the DA's Office said.

Shortell has been convicted of misdemeanor criminal contempt four times in the past three years, Evanovich said in the release.

'BEYOND TRIAL VICTORY'

"It’s beyond just another trial victory for this office," Evanovich said in an email. "The new Aggravated Family Offense Law is a very helpful tool. We’re hopeful it will help prosecute repeat domestic-violence offenders moving forward."

In the release, Evanovich said the DA's Office intends to seek persistent felony status at sentencing because of Shortell's "blatant disregard for the laws of New York state, as shown by his extensive criminal history."

If the judge grants Evanovich's request, Shortell could face 25 years to life in prison.

Lawliss sent Shortell to the Clinton County Jail.

His sentencing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Dec. 9.

Email Felicia Krieg: fkrieg@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @FeliciaKrieg

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