NORWICH – In what authorities called the largest meth bust to date in the City of Norwich, one of the people accused of cooking and using methamphetamine at a residence across from an elementary school was convicted on Friday, and sentenced to serve six months in the Chenango County Correctional Facility.
On the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 10, the Norwich Police Department received a trespass complaint at a residence on Prospect St., in the City of Norwich. Authorities said that while checking the downstairs apartment located at the address, the property manager discovered several individuals inside. It was reported the apartment was supposed to be vacant.
Once confronted by the property manager, the suspects left the residence on foot.
Officers of the NPD – including K9 Nitro – responded and began searching for the individuals.
The NPD confirmed at the time that two of the suspects were taken into custody within “a couple of minutes.”
“While investigating the complaint, officers observed what they believed to be several ‘One-Pot’ methamphetamine cooking containers throughout the apartment,” said Police Chief Rodney Marsh. “The officers also observed numerous precursors for the production of methamphetamine.”
During the investigation, the Norwich Police requested the assistance of the New York State Police – CCSERT (Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team) and the Norwich Fire Department at the scene.
After her initial arrest, Alexus Braam-Armondi, of Norwich, was facing charges of unlawful manufacture of meth in the third degree, a class D felony; criminal possession of precursors of methamphetamine, a class E felony; unlawful disposal of meth lab material, a class E felony; and criminal trespass in the second degree, a class A misdemeanor. She was arraigned on $10,000 cash bail, or $20,000 bond.
Braam-Armondi appeared back in Chenango County Court for a plea and sentencing agreement with her assigned defense counsel, John Cameron, on Friday, Sept. 9. First Assistant District Attorney Michael D. Ferrarese represented the people of Chenango County in the case, while the Honorable Judge Frank B. Revoir Jr. presided over matters.
After she was sworn in, Judge Revoir read the defendant the top count of her indictment. Before Braam-Armondi could enter a plea of guilty, Revoir engaged her in further colloquy about the incident. He asked Braam-Armondi if she had been living at the residence on Prospect Street, to which the defendant replied, “I didn't live there, but I had been staying there.” Revoir then asked what was taking place at the residence. Braam-Armondi said, “We were making meth there.” When questioned about who 'we' specified, Braam-Armondi identified her co-defendants.
Revoir also asked the defendant what her role was in the operation, and how long the group were manufacturing meth at the residence. Braam-Armondi said that she was tasked with purchasing supplies, such as Sudafed, and that the cooking had been going on for about two weeks. Braam-Armondi also specified that the group was not selling the finished product, just 'making and consuming it.’
After Revoir was satisfied with the admissions made by Braam-Armondi, the court proceeded to sentencing.
Ferrarese was the first to speak. He said, “As the court is aware, this particular defendant is addicted to meth. Hopefully the disposition being outlined will help her deal with that.” He continued to convey his extreme distress about this particular case, “What I found most upsetting about this case was that it was right across from a children's school. It couldn't have been in a worse place,” he said. Addressing Braam-Armondi directly, Ferrarese said, “You are getting this disposition due to your lack of criminal history. This is your opportunity, I hope you take advantage of it.”
John Cameron said that his client, Braam-Armondi, had an addiction problem, and that he hoped she could avail of programs in jail that will help her curb that problem and succeed in life.
When Braam-Armondi had a chance to speak on her own behalf, she said, “I just want to say thanks for giving me the opportunity to change my life.”
Judge Revoir agreed with Ferrarese's comments. “It looks like you have a serious drug problem, nobody here is denying that,” he said. “Hopefully drug treatment court will help you. It is a holistic approach. You need to start changing the people, places and things in your life if you're going to turn your life around. In a small town, that can be challenging.”
In exchange for her plea of guilty to the top charge of unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the third degree, a class D felony, Braam-Armondi agreed to serve a sentence of six months in the Chenango County Correctional Facility, along with five years of probation. As a part of her plea agreement, she also agreed to enter the drug treatment court program, and to pay restitution for damages incurred to the residence where the meth was being manufactured. If there is any future proceedings against her co-defendants, Braam-Armondi will be required to testify against them.
Braam-Armondi, according to authorities, has been released as she has served the six months.
Braam-Armondi executed a written waiver of appeal at the conclusion of proceedings.