Nine years for probation violation

GUILDERLAND — Although Tasheem Maeweather has not been convicted of shooting a gun inside Crossgates Mall, those charges were taken into account in his sentencing on Friday, Dec. 16 in Albany County Court before Judge Peter Lynch on probation violations.

In the courtroom, both Assistant District Attorney Steven Sharp and Lynch referred to the Nov. 12 Crossgates matter in which Maeweather is charged with four felonies — attempted murder, attempted assault, criminal possession of a weapon, and reckless endangerment.

Sharp said that Maeweather could have hit what he was shooting at, or “could have struck anyone in the mall.” No one was hurt and the gun has not been recovered.

Maeweather had been convicted in Schenectady County Court in September 2015 on a charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance, a felony. He was sentenced at that time to a five-year period of probation instead of jail. Maeweather’s case was transferred “sometime thereafter” to the supervision of the Albany County Department of Probation, according to a release issued Dec. 16 from the Albany County District Attorney’s Office.

On Friday, Lynch vacated the earlier five-year probation sentence, and resentenced Maeweather to the maximum possible, nine years in state prison, for both the probation violation and the underlying drug charge, followed by two years of post-release supervision, according to the release.

Maeweather’s lawyer, Lee Kindlon, said the “technical violations” of his probation were that Maeweather used marijuana and that he left Albany County without permission to go to Schenectady and Troy.

In the courtroom, Maeweather told the judge that he made those trips to visit friends and family.

Lynch, meanwhile, told Maeweather that one purpose of probation is to show that confinement is not always necessary for the safety of the public, but that, in this case — because of both the technical violations and the arrest for the Crossgates shooting — “Confinement is necessary for the safety of the public.”

He said that, even apart from the Crossgates incident, the technical violations represented a “massive breach” of Maeweather’s probation.

Maeweather had pleaded not guilty on Dec. 5 to four felonies in the incident that paralyzed Crossgates Mall for hours on Saturday, Nov. 12, causing some shoppers to evacuate and then bringing hundreds of law-enforcement officers to lock down the mall and carefully comb it in case the shooter was still inside.

Kindlon said, outside the courtroom, that he would file an appeal later that same day.

He said, referring to probation revocations in general, “Here [in this kind of proceeding] the burden of proof is much lower, so they can get people on the basis of evidence that would never be enough for a jury to convict on.”

The burden of proof in a probation revocation is “a preponderance of the evidence” — or “51 percent” certainty, Kindlon said — not as high as the standard that would be used in a criminal trial, which would be “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Kindlon also said that Maeweather has “some pretty significant learning and educational difficulties” and that he is “functionally illiterate.”

Kindlon had argued, at a hearing before Lynch several weeks ago, that Maeweather was unable to read the copy of the terms of his probation that had been left with him, and so had been unaware of just what they were, Kindlon said.

In the courtroom on Friday, Maeweather told Lynch that he understood that violating his parole was wrong, but said, “When they talked to me, they used big words.

“I don’t understand big words. You gotta break it down,” Maeweather added.

The actual time served will likely be significantly shorter than nine years, Kindlon said.

Assuming good behavior, once Maeweather has served three years, the sentence will likely be reduced from nine years to six, Kindlon said. At that point, Kindlon said, since Maeweather will have served three years and only have three left to go, he will become eligible for a program that is “near and dear” to Kindlon’s heart, the Shock program.

This program teaches, Kindlon said, “discipline and respect.”

According to the United States Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice, Shock programs emphasize treatment as a means of promoting public safety. They seek to build character, instill responsibility, and promote a positive self-image “so that nonviolent offenders can return to society as law-abiding citizens.”

James Acker, a distinguished professor in the School of Criminal Justice of the University at Albany, was asked if it was fair for an alleged act, of which a defendant has not been convicted, to be used against him in another court proceeding.

Acker first gave a caveat, saying he is not a lawyer in New York State.

He then said, “The two matters — involving marijuana and leaving the county — seem to me to be more or less very minor technical matters that wouldn’t typically result in the hammer coming down.”

It was the Crossgates shooting, he said, that “obviously puts a different dimension on it.” Acker said that it is not inconsistent that the judge would have heard testimony that Maeweather committed the alleged shooting at Crossgates, and found that the testimony of the New York State Trooper who was the eyewitness was sufficiently credible that it met the threshold for probation revocation.

If Maeweather should be found not guilty of the Crossgates shooting, what then, Acker was asked. Should Judge Lynch revisit his probation revocation, since the alleged shooting was a factor?

Acker said that at that point a motion for reconsideration could be made before Lynch, or an appeal could be made that might, “at a minimum,” result in the Appellate Court asking the judge to reexamine his finding.

However, in those cases it would still be within the judge’s discretion, Acker said, to say, “Well, I still find by a preponderance of the evidence that he did it (the Crossgates shooting), and I’m not going to change my mind.”

There is a “bit of a gap sometimes between law and justice,” Acker said. “I think the law would say what happened” — using an alleged act against a defendant in a separate proceeding — “is consistent with the rules.’ 

More Guilderland News

  • On Wednesday, the county’s health commissioner, Elizabeth Whalen, said her department is “working closely with schools to assist them with testing as we anticipate guidance on that will be forthcoming very quickly.”

  • Placards notifying the public that the Dutch Mill Acres Townhome application is slated to be heard at an upcoming Guilderland Town Board meeting were posted on Carman Road and Lone Pine Drive, according to an affidavit filed with the town, but no meeting date is listed on the sworn statement.   

  •  The owners of Pollard Disposal Services of Altamont in a note to customers  said in part, “We are writing this letter with excitement and dismay … It has come time to retire. The waste removal business is ever changing. New regulations and insurance requirements are weighing heavy on us. After looking around, we have decided to sell the waste company to Twin Bridges Waste and Recycling,”

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.