Schenectady County

Man gets 15 years for robbing undercover cop during drug deal

A city man who admitted to robbing an undercover police officer during a drug deal was sentenced tod
PHOTOGRAPHER:

A city man who admitted to robbing an undercover police officer during a drug deal was sentenced today to 15 years in state prison.

Melvin N. Hassell of Steinmetz Homes admitted earlier to robbing a man he thought was a rival dealer, a man who later turned out to be an undercover officer.

The officer was uninjured, prosecutor Amy Burock told Judge Karen Drago, but he was affected by it afterward.

“Only a half-inch movement of the defendant’s finger stood between life and death for the officer,” said Burock, who called the incident life-changing.

The officer did not attend today’s sentencing, though several colleagues did.

Hassell was arrested Jan. 24 on Delamont Avenue. He admitted he entered a car, sold $600 worth of cocaine to the undercover officer and then demanded the drugs back at the point of a .22-caliber handgun. He also admitted to planning the robbery just prior with an accomplice, who has yet to be arrested.

The undercover officer did as he was told by Hassell, giving the drugs back and left. Waiting officers from the state police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team then converged and made the arrest.

The victim’s status as a police did not figure in the charges Hassell pleaded guilty to, including first-degree robbery.

Hassell, who had no criminal record, apologized in court for his actions. His mother, who traveled from Georgia for the sentencing, wailed in the gallery as he was sentenced.

In pronouncing sentence, Drago referenced the danger the officer was put in. She also said everyone was put in danger that day.

“I can tell you, this will not be tolerated,” Drago said.

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