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NY Times: Lask's Defense for Assemblyman Katz Wins Dismissal

 

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Assemblyman Makes Plea Deal on Marijuana Possession

By THOMAS KAPLAN

Published: April 25, 2013

 

 

A New York State assemblyman from the Hudson Valley who had been charged with marijuana possession has agreed to a plea bargain that will result in the dismissal of the charge if he performs community service and stays out of trouble.

The assemblyman, Stephen M. Katz, 59, a Republican from Mohegan Lake, was stopped for speeding on the New York State Thruway in Coeymans, south of Albany, on March 14; a small bag of marijuana was found in his car, the State Police said.

On Thursday, a town justice in Coeymans, Philip A. Crandall Sr., agreed to dismiss the charge of unlawful possession of marijuana, but required that Assemblyman Katz complete 20 hours of community service and avoid reoffending.

Justice Crandall also reduced Mr. Katz’s speeding ticket — he was cited for driving 80 miles per hour in an area where the speed limit was 65 m.p.h. — to a parking violation that carries a $75 fine.

Mr. Katz did not appear in court.

His lawyer, Susan Chana Lask, said Mr. Katz, who is a veterinarian, planned to complete his community service by volunteering at an animal shelter.

“Everybody wants to take a chomp out of you when you’re in Albany, and something happens and you’re a bad guy,” Ms. Lask said. “He’s not a bad guy. He’s a hard worker for the people, and this story is behind him.”

Mr. Katz was first elected in 2010, and represents a district that includes parts of Westchester and Putnam Counties. He remains a member of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, among other legislative panels.