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NYSNYS NEWS: Conviction upheld for Saratoga County drug user who let NYC woman set up his trailer as a crack cocaine den.
NYSNYS NEWS: Conviction upheld for Saratoga County drug user who let NYC woman set up his trailer as a crack cocaine den.

By Kyle Hughes

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 17 ) – An appeals court has upheld the conviction and 10 year prison sentence of Christopher M. Vanguilder, a longtime drug user convicted of selling crack cocaine out of his residence in a Saratoga County trailer park.

In Thursday's decision, The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court reversed convictions on two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, but let stand more serious convictions of two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance.

In May 2014, Vanguilder, of 1617 Route 9, Lot 7, Moreau, was sentenced to 5 years in state prison plus 3 years of post-release supervision for a sale that occurred in April 2013, and 5 years in state prison plus 3 years of post-release supervision for a second sale on that same day, the Saratoga County District Attorney's office reported.

"The Judge ordered that those two sentences run consecutively, meaning one after the other, which means the total number of years of incarceration in a state prison is 10 plus 6 years post release supervision," the DA said. Vanguilder, 48, is now in DOCCS Coxsackie prison and is not eligible for his first parole hearing until 2020.

Vanguilder's arrest "stemmed from a (undercover) sting operation conducted by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Drug Unit on April 26, 2013. The Sheriff’s Department Drug Unit learned through sources and investigation that Vanguilder was cooperating with and harboring drug dealers from New York City, essentially allowing them to open up shop in his home for local distribution. Through the trial, testimony was offered that the defendant would facilitate the deals with his contacts locally."

The Saratoga DA said "Vanguilder had a previous Felony conviction from Warren County in 2004 for Possession with Intent to Sell a Controlled substance and received a sentence of from 3-6 years in state prison."

The sting also resulted in the arrest of another drug dealer, Sadie A. Willis, 26, of 333 Martense St., Brooklyn. She was sent to DOCCS Albion prison in September 2013 and received a merit release to parole one month ago.

During the trial, she agreed to testify against Vanguilder, describing a set up where Vanguilder was given crack in exchange for steering customers to her.

A confidential informant (CI) for the Saratoga County sheriff "testified that he had known (Vanguilder) for approximately one month and had bought drugs in his home on 5 to 10 occasions," the Appellate Division ruling says. "Willis testified that she had known defendant for approximately one year and had sold drugs out of his home on about 12 occasions. According to Willis, she would give defendant crack cocaine in exchange for the use of his house and 'whenever [she] felt that he deserved it.' Willis further explained that those occasions when defendant deserved crack cocaine were when defendant made sales of the drug."

"Willis acknowledged that her customers were '[defendant's] people' because she was from New York City. Willis further testified that she kept exclusive control of the crack cocaine at all times, except for the transactions, due to the fact that defendant was a user."

"On the video recording of the first sale, Willis and the CI wait for defendant to begin the transaction, at which point the CI gives defendant the money, and defendant counts it and gives the CI the crack cocaine. On the recording of the second sale, defendant answers the door, takes the money from the CI and counts it, whereupon Willis goes to get the crack cocaine and hands it to defendant, who then gives it to the CI. During both sales, defendant asks for 'a hit' from the sale, and when the CI refuses, defendant responds, 'You never do' and, 'It don't matter to me.' "

"Although defendant did not receive a monetary share of the profits from the drug sales, Willis testified that she gave him crack cocaine in exchange for his assistance with a successful sale," the Appellate Division ruled. "Further, defendant touted the product and thereby exhibited '[s]alesman-like behavior.' "