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What you need to know for 04/30/2017

Saratoga County jury convicts drug suspect

Saratoga County jury convicts drug suspect

A Moreau man was found guilty Friday of helping downstate drug dealers sell crack cocaine in norther

A Moreau man was found guilty Friday of helping downstate drug dealers sell crack cocaine in northern Saratoga County and Glens Falls following a weeklong jury trial in Saratoga County Court.

Christopher M. VanGuilder, 47, of Route 9, was convicted of all six counts against him. The jury deliberated about eight hours over two days, returning a verdict Friday morning.

The charges against VanGuilder included two counts of felony criminal sale of a narcotic drug, two counts of felony possession with intent to sell, and two misdemeanor counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance.

VanGuilder will be sentenced by County Court Judge Jerry Scarano at 1:30 p.m. May 30, and could face up to 12 years in prison.

District Attorney James A. Murphy III said the charges stemmed from a sting operation conducted by the Saratoga County sheriff’s drug unit on April 26, 2013, in Moreau.

Murphy said the drug unit learned through sources and an investigation that VanGuilder was working with and hosting drug dealers from New York City, essentially allowing them to open up shop in his home.

Murphy said testimony was offered that VanGuilder would use his local contacts to find customers for the out-of-town dealers.

“VanGuilder is a guy who had a lot of friends in and around northern Saratoga County and the Glens Falls area who were seeking crack cocaine,” Murphy said. “He would coordinate to have New York City dealers come to his home and provide them with a safe haven so they could sell their product at a large markup.”

Murphy said VanGuilder had a previous felony conviction in 2004 for possessing with intent to sell.

His attorney, Tucker Stanclift of Glens Falls, said an appeal is possible after VanGuilder is sentenced in May. He said he was disappointed but not surprised by the verdict.

“Our defense was that Mr. VanGuilder was acting on behalf of the buyer, not the seller,” Stanclift said. “That is called agent [for the buyer] under the law, and that is not culpable conduct.”

He acknowledged VanGuilder is an addict, and said that wasn’t disputed at the trial.

One of the downstate dealers, Sadie A. Willis, 25, of Brooklyn, was also arrested and is now serving a three-year state prison term. She was convicted in Warren County.

“They needed VanGuilder’s house to sell drugs out of and he was willing to give it, and handled all the money transactions that came in,” said Assistant District Attorney Jesse Ashdown, who prosecuted with fellow ADA Kristin Foust.

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