A local man will avoid further jail time on a drug conviction but may still face a lengthy prison sentence on federal charges for being part of a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine.
Eric Bell, 41, was sentenced in Schenectady County Court on Thursday to time served for attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third-degree.
His attorney Sven Paul said his client has had a problem with drug addiction his entire life but is trying to get clean. He and his wife were working on a landscaping and cleaning business.
Bell pleaded guilty in August to being part of a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine from June through November 2011. He was responsible for distributing anywhere between 29 and 111 grams of crack during that period, according to a federal affidavit. Bell is set to be sentenced in March, potentially facing five to 40 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5 million.
He remains at the Albany County Jail.
Also Thursday before Judge Karen Drago in Schenectady County Court, Thomas Santilli, 28, last known to be living at Howell Street, was sentenced to consecutive terms of 11⁄2 to three years and two to four years in prison on a previous guilty plea to fourth-degree grand larceny and second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. He was arrested in April 2010 for taking a 78-year-old woman’s purse in Dec. 29, 2009, at the Eastern Parkway Price Chopper and then writing out a check to himself the following day. He will also receive probation not to exceed five years.
Santilli was sentenced as a second-time felony offender, having pleaded guilty in March 2010 to aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and sentenced to five years’ probation.
On the new charge, he will receive credit for 168 days spent in jail.
Drago acknowledged that Santilli has some mental health issues, which she attributed to a stint in the military. She also said there have been issues of steroid abuse in the past and urged him to stay on track.