A drug suspect who wanted to get into Schenectady County’s Drug Court program has been rejected after a phone call recording surfaced in which he indicated he had no drug problem.
Terrence Prince, 36, appeared in Schenectady County Court on Monday morning and formally pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, a felony.
In return he will be sentenced to a total of 5.5 years in state prison.
But Prince apparently hoped for a lesser sentence by trying to get himself into the drug court program, as he told officials he suffered from a cocaine addiction.
Non-violent suspects with drug addictions can be put into drug court as a way of treating their addiction.
The thinking is that for those whose crime was motivated by drug addiction, treatment can help prevent them from committing future crimes.
Once participants complete an intensive treatment program that can last as much as two years, they may avoid prison, and be sentenced to as little as a term of probation.
Prince’s case, though, never got as far as drug court.
That’s because drug court officials learned of a recording of a phone conversation a woman had with Prince at the county jail, where inmate phone calls are recorded.
“He basically says that he has to paint a picture and he’s relaying what he told the drug court team to this female and saying ‘back me up,’ basically,” prosecutor Deanndra Macomber said after court Monday.
Prince was accused in two drug sales, one each in April and May 2013, both in Mont Pleasant.
He was sent to prison in 2008 on similar Schenectady County drug sale accusations. He also has drug possession convictions from the late 1990s, records show.
Prince was represented in court Monday by attorney Lauren Mack. Presiding over the case was Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago.
Exactly what sentence Prince could have received, had the ruse not been discovered, was unclear. The case never got that far, Macomber said.
“It’s a great program, we want it to be a place that helps people,” she said. “Putting people in drug court that don’t really have a problem just undermines the whole process.”