At Stephen Giroux’s sentencing, the prosecutor painted the convicted felon as an arrogant criminal who believed he was above the law.
Giroux’s picture of himself Monday was of a bipolar alcoholic who should get probation, a place in the community and time for mental-health and substance-abuse treatment.
Clinton County Judge Patrick McGill said many people suffer from alcoholism and mental illness without leapfrogging to criminal acts.
“You made terrible choices,” McGill said. “You chose to involve yourself in drugs.”
The judge sentenced Giroux to four years in prison, with two years of post-release supervision, for third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and four years in prison, with two years of post-release supervision, for third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Those sentences will run concurrently.
He further sentenced Giroux to 11⁄3 to 4 years for first-degree bail jumping, to run consecutive to his other terms.
Giroux must also pay a $600 surcharge.
SOLD TO INFORMANT
Giroux, 53, was convicted March 19 of selling 3.5 grams of cocaine, also known as an “eight ball,” for $270 to an informant in Plattsburgh on Feb. 5, 2009.
The owner of Champy’s Gas N Go in Plattsburgh failed to appear for his scheduled September 2009 trial and fled to Florida. He turned himself in about two months later and pleaded guilty to bail jumping.
Giroux’s first trial on drug charges resulted in a mistrial after a Plattsburgh City Police Department detective referenced Giroux’s criminal record in front of jurors, something that was not permitted based on a prior ruling by McGill.
The second trial began March 11 and resulted in Giroux’s conviction, though the jury questioned the credibility of the witness.
“Throughout his criminal cases, Stephen Giroux has maintained an heir of superiority and arrogance,” Assistant District Attorney Douglas Collyer said at the sentencing Monday.
“Stephen Giroux believes he is above the law.”
Collyer listed past criminal convictions of Giroux, including a felony DWI in the early 1990s, 13 arrests for criminal contempt and probation violations.
Collyer questioned Giroux’s assertion he jumped bail and fled to Florida to seek help for mental illness and alcoholism.
“While in treatment, the defendant racked up an $18.25 bar tab at Alan and Michele’s Monkey Bar.”
Collyer said Giroux continues to blame his ex-girlfriend and lacks sincerity.
“The defendant has proven he is unsuitable for supervised release.”
Giroux’s attorney, Plattsburgh-based Ed Narrow, said Giroux has accepted responsibility for his felony conviction and could be successful on probation.
Giroux has a documented history of alcoholism and mental illness, Narrow said, and has been diagnosed by a psychiatrist as suffering from bipolar disorder.
“Mr. Giroux has never been offered the opportunity to complete a treatment program,” Narrow said. “I strongly believe his criminal conduct is linked to alcoholism and bipolar disorder.”
Narrow said there is no evidence Giroux sold cocaine to anyone but the Adirondack Drug Task Force’s informant.
And the tab at the establishment in Florida was from a meal, not drinks at the bar, Narrow said.
Allowing Giroux to serve his time on probation would save his business and employee jobs, enable him to financially provide for his children and give Giroux the opportunity to seek treatment, Narrow said.
‘DISEASE IN CONTROL’
“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Giroux said. “My disease was in full control of my life.
“I would like the opportunity to return to the community I spent my entire life in, and I can and will remain sober with treatment and will follow mental-health plans.
“At age 53, I don’t have many chances left to change my life.”
McGill disagreed with Giroux’s reasoning.
“I have difficulties with the logic behind ‘I did those things because I am.’”
E-mail Stephen Bartlett at: email@example.com