Geneva resident takes "full responsibility" for drug possession that leads to 10-year sentence

CANANDAIGUA — The Geneva man convicted of five drug-related charges following a non-jury trial last week was sentenced Thursday to serve 10 years behind bars.

Given the opportunity to speak before his sentence was made official, Calvin L. Butler Jr., 42, told Judge William Kocher that he had the "utmost respect” for the judge as well as the court system.

“I take full responsibility,” Butler said. “I appreciate you guys for allowing me to defend myself as a man.” 

As he was directed out of the Ontario County Court's South Courtroom by sheriff’s deputies, Butler turned to the members of his family who sat in the courtroom gallery and gave a nod to them with his hand over his heart.

Following his conviction last week for possession of cocaine with intent to sell the drug, Butler faced a maximum of 12 years behind bars — a sentence sought by First Assistant District Attorney Brian Dennis. 

In pursuit of this outcome, Dennis detailed Butler’s criminal history to Kocher before the prison term was handed down.

Dennis referenced Butler’s hodgepodge of convictions and subsequent prison sentences dating back to when Butler was a juvenile. The criminal activity includes three prior felony drug convictions in 1992, 1998 and 2009.

“He’s a dealer,” the prosecutor told Kocher. “That’s all he really knows.”

Butler's latest charges stem from the January execution of a search warrant at a residence in Geneva, issued after police determined that Butler was using the location as a stash house. Ontario County sheriff’s deputies uncovered in excess of 13 grams of cocaine during the investigation at the home, as well as glassine envelopes for packaging the narcotic and digital scales. 

In March, deputies charged Butler with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class B felony; fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class C felony; two counts of second-degree criminally using drug paraphernalia, a class A misdemeanor; and unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation.

Butler's criminal history coupled with his latest conviction meant that the defendant was eligible to undergo a hearing that could classify him as a persistent felony offender. If so classified, Williams could have faced a maximum of 25 years to life in prison. However, Kocher revealed Thursday that the hearing would not be pursued. 

The judge cited Butler’s respectable attitude and demeanor as the reason he didn’t opt for sentencing him to the maximum time behind prison walls and for his decision against pursuing a persistent felony offender hearing. 

Kocher said he learned about Butler’s positive attitude after listening to recorded jail calls between the defendant and his family. The judge described Butler as a gentleman and wished the defendant the best of luck in the future.