An upstate appeals court affirmed a prison sentence enhancement for a defendant who ignored a judge’s directive to help prepare a presentence report in her case.
Essex County Court Judge Richard Meyer effectively doubled the penalty for defendant Karen Caza by sentencing her to serve 1 to 3 years for each of two counts of attempted second-degree forgery consecutively, instead of concurrently, as Meyer initially planned to do.
An Appellate Division, Third Department panel said Thursday in People v. Caza, 105287/105288, that Meyer acted after Caza tried to avoid being interviewed by the county Probation Department for her presentence report, and once she was interviewed, gave “evasive and contradictory” answers to its questions. The appeals judges said Meyer had warned Caza when she pleaded guilty that she would face penalties if she failed to comply with the conditions of the plea deal.
Justices John Lahtinen, Robert Rose and John Egan Jr. were in the 3-2 majority.
Justice William McCarthy said in a dissent in which he was joined by Justice Elizabeth Garry that the court should honor Meyer’s conditional promise to sentence Caza to concurrent terms. McCarthy said it was unclear from the record whether Caza intentionally evaded being interviewed or had other court-ordered obligations, such as court-required mental health examinations, at the same time.
McCarthy said that if Meyer felt Caza had failed to meet the provisions of her agreement, the judge should have allowed her to withdraw her guilty plea before imposing the enhanced sentence.
Assistant Essex County District Attorney Michael Langley argued for the prosecution. Martin McGuinness of Queensbury represented Caza.