Yates County Court: Man who dumped drugged friend sentenced to prison

John Christensen

The following cases were heard Jan. 7 and 8 in Yates County Criminal Court by Judge Jason L. Cook.

PATRICK J. BROWN, 39, of Branchport, convicted of evidence tampering (class E felony) as a second felony offender, was sentenced to 1 1/2 to 3 years in prison with an order for the Willard Drug Treatment Center.

Before his plea to the felony count for a reduced sentence, Brown was also charged with two counts of 7th degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a hypodermic instrument, and 2nd degree criminal use of drug paraphernalia. He faced 2 to 4 years in prison. Brown previously confessed he had driven a friend who had overdosed on heroin/fentanyl to his home on Elm Street, pulled him from the car, and left him lying in the yard unconscious. Brown called 911, but before fleeing, tried to conceal the drugs from the police.

Brown’s criminal history dates back to 1991, including time in prison. Probation interviews stated that at the time he dumped the victim in that yard, Brown thought he was dead but was indifferent to it and showed no remorse.

PAUL KHOUZAM, 38, the man charged with 2nd degree murder and other felony charges for the Aug. 6, 2018 attack on his mother, Magda Khouzam-Daoud MD, who later died, appeared for District Attorney Todd Casella’s response to defense motions with a required certificate of compliance. Khouzam was indicted Nov. 1, 2018 for the crimes of 2nd degree murder (class A violent felony), 1st degree burglary (class B violent felony), two counts of 3rd degree criminal possession of a weapon (class D felony), and aggravated cruelty to animals (class E felony).

In compliance with new state laws, all the backgrounds of any witnesses, experts, or officers who might be called in the case, must be provided to the defense by the prosecution. In a later interview, Casella stated that in Khouzam’s case, that gathering process took four days to complete.

Pre trial motions will be argued Jan 28, but no trial has yet been scheduled. Cook previously granted a motion for another psychiatrist’s evaluation but that has still to be done. The $1 million bail, $2 million bond, or $1.5 million in a partially secured surety bond was continued as Khouzam was remanded back to the county jail under constant guard.

ROBERT HEBDING 38, of Naples, charged with 2nd degree assault, 2nd degree criminal possession of a weapon (class D violent felonies), and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child (class A misdemeanor, appeared for arraignment.

Yates County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested Hebding Nov. 16 in his home where he allegedly used a knife to injure another man in the presence of two children.

According to YCSO Investigators, the victim, also 38, received serious hand injuries and a non-life-threatening injury to his upper torso.

Casella argued for Hebding to be remanded, noting that Hebding had a youthful offender conviction here in 2000, but absconded to Portland, Ore. where he was homeless for a number of years and committed other offenses. He returned to the county in 2018, voluntarily and disabled, to complete his sentence. Cook remanded him on $10,000 bail, $20,000 bond, or $30,000

JAMES E. RIBBLE, 34, of Penn Yan, charged in one indictment with two counts each of 3rd degree criminal sale and 3rd degree criminal possession of a controlled substance (class B felonies), and in a second indictment with 1st degree criminal contempt (class E felony) and 2nd degree criminal contempt (class A misdemeanor) accepted a plea bargain for reduced charges. Pleading to one of the drug sale felonies, he was promised a sentence cap of 9 1/2 years in prison followed by 3 years parole. For his plea to the 1st degree contempt, he was promised 1 1/2 to 3 years, served concurrently.

Facing far longer possible consecutive sentences, Ribble admitted he sold crack cocaine to an agent of the Penn Yan Police on two dates in March, and that he violated a Yates County Family Court stay away order of protection in July after a prior arrest for the same. For his plea, the two counts of 2nd degree criminal contempt against his codefendant, April Saylor, will be dismissed. Ribble was remanded without bail until sentencing March 10.

DENISE AULT, 41, of Himrod, convicted of 2nd degree criminal contempt, appeared for sentencing.

Ault was originally accused of 15 charges in three indictments, including 10 felonies, the highest being 1st degree burglary and 2nd degree arson (class B violent felonies) in an extreme case of domestic violence, was acquitted of three felonies and one misdemeanor.

After her defense attorney, Travis Barry, argued the case was one of self-defense, Ault was found guilty only of two counts of 2nd degree criminal contempt as lesser, included class A misdemeanors, for violating court orders of protection. One of those was later dismissed as duplicative.

Two other indictments charging the more serious felony matters of 1st degree burglary, 2nd degree arson, 1st degree reckless endangerment plus others, were first reduced by Cook upon review of motions filed by Barry; then, dismissed altogether due to faults Cook found in the grand jury hearings.

Casella stated that Ault’s “colorful account paints herself as the victim,” but she showed no remorse, and has an extensive criminal history along with her military career.

On this remaining conviction, Cook sentenced Ault to 3 years probation, 66 days already served in jail, and 150 hours of community service. He issued another order of protection for the victim, along with a stern warning to her that court orders are not to be ignored.