MALONE — Jails in Clinton County and Warren County are making money off efforts spearheaded by the Franklin County District Attorney’s Office to drive drug dealers out of business.

More than 50 people were arrested in and around Malone over the past three weeks on assorted marijuana-smuggling and prescription-peddling charges that have the 118-bed Franklin County Jail bursting at the seams.

Sheriff Jack Pelkey sent 15 inmates to Clinton County Jail and four to Warren County Jail to make room for the most recent wave of arrests on Tuesday.

“We are full,” he said, except for a handful of beds kept open in case the people still at large on drug charges are caught.



BOARDING COSTS

Clinton County charges $85 per person per day to board an out-of-county inmate, and although Warren County has not submitted a bill yet, Pelkey said its boarding fee is between $85 and $90 a day.

That means Franklin County taxpayers are spending $1,275 a day on Clinton County boarding and $340 a day in Warren County.

If the inmates are kept a week, it will cost at least $11,305 to board them and at least $48,450 if they are kept for a month.

Pelkey and the jail staff select inmates for boarding based on whether they have a case that will soon require their presence in court and the nature of their crime.

He tries not to keep people accused in the same case in the same cell block so they do not mingle.



ARRESTS

A major family-run pot-smuggling network was dismantled in late April, police said, when more than a dozen people were arrested on possession and sale charges.

The network allegedly transported 220 pounds of high-grade marijuana from Canada through Franklin County to the Albany area in 16 months.

Officials said the pot was worth $4 million on the street.

On Tuesday, a roundup netted 36 people on prescription-drug possession and sale charges, stemming from a 10-month investigation that was initially linked to the pot-smuggling case.

Late Tuesday, two more people were arrested, bringing the total to 38:

Tina L. Savage, 38, of Malone, charged with fourth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. She was arraigned and sent to County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

Anna Fiacco, 21, of Malone, charged with fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. She was arraigned and sent to County Jail for lack of $10,000 bail.



‘GOOD INVESTMENT’

The dozens of people arrested Tuesday were obtaining Oxycontin and hydrocodone either by exaggerating symptoms, faking injuries from traffic accidents or lying about a lost prescription.

The sheriff says out-of-county boarding expenses on people accused of crimes like this is money well spent.

“The DA’s Office is doing a great job getting people who are dealing drugs, and it is keeping them out of the community and keeping our children safe,” he said.

“It’s a good investment,” Pelkey said. “These people have to understand if they do the crime, they are going to do time in Franklin County.”

DA Derek Champagne also has support for leading an aggressive anti-drug campaign, which the chairman of the Franklin County Legislature’s Public Safety Committee says should be duplicated all across New York.

“If you think about it, we’ve taken the lead again, and when you add up how many millions of dollars can be saved from drug dealing and Medicaid fraud, it’s certainly money well spent,” said Daniel Crippen (D-Burke).

He said the sheriff called him Tuesday night after the latest wave of inmates was processed to talk about the jail’s expenses.

Crippen said Pelkey was added to the agenda for the May 17 legislature meeting.

“As you can imagine, this has burst his budget,” he said of the sheriff.

The entire legislature will hear details of the problem and determine a solution, Crippen said.



E-mail Denise A. Raymo at:

draymo@pressrepublican.com

Trending Video

Recommended for you