Drug dealer gets eight-year sentence
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | May 05,2014
BENNINGTON — After an extended hearing on Friday, during which a judge attempted to explain the complexity of sentencing a man who admitted to selling drugs in Bennington, the man was ordered to serve at least eight years in prison.
Cedric “Sizzle” Daniels, 36, of Pownal, pleaded guilty to felony charges of sale of cocaine, sale of heroin and possessing a weapon while committing a crime and a misdemeanor charge of possession of cocaine.
He was sentenced to serve between eight years and eight years and one day on the two charges of selling drugs, between four years and four years and one day for the charge of possessing a weapon while selling drugs and 11 months for possessing drugs. All the sentences will be served at the same time.
Judge Nancy Corsones said all of the charges were related to undercover operations conducted by police before August. On Friday, Daniels could have faced life sentences on the felony charges, based on his convictions as a habitual offender except for the fact that the state had agreed to cap its sentencing request at no more than 25 years.
Daniels’ attorney asked for a maximum sentence of seven years.
Corsones said she wanted to explain how she reached her decision, however. Corsones said one factor she considered was “retribution.”
“The United States Supreme Court summarized the importance of retribution this way: ‘When people begin to believe that organized society is unwilling or unable to impose upon criminal offenders the punishment they deserve, then they are sowing the seeds of anarchy, self-help, vigilante justice and lynch law.’ That’s Greg v. Georgia which is a 1976 case.”
Corsones said the importance of that quote to Bennington was the sense that “this community is absolutely sick of the drug problem.” She said she was perceiving a belief in the community that a message needed to be sent to those who would come into Bennington and Vermont to sell drugs.
“We’re fed up and something needs to be done,” she said.
Corsones pointed out that Daniels had a large number of aggravating factors including nine previous felony convictions and a history as a habitual offender. This was also the first case she sentenced which involved a weapon since she was assigned to Bennington County in 2013, she said.
“You’ve been involved with the criminal justice system since you were 20 years old and you have not been successful,” she said.
Corsones also admitted that she makes no pretense that she “hates heroin.”
“You’re selling poison when you’re selling heroin. ... It’s poison in this community and it ruins lives and it’s got to stop,” she said.
Prosecutor Robert Plunkett of the Bennington County State’s Attorney’s Office accused Daniels of moving into the area after a countywide drug sweep, Operation County Strike in 2013, to take advantage of the opportunity to sell drugs. While Corsones said she wasn’t sure the state had “adequately established” that accusation, she called it “probably more than a coincidence that you moved here after County Strike.”
Daniels, in his own defense, said he believed he spent about 80 percent of what he made from selling drugs — estimated at $100,0000 — on his own habit.
Despite the length of the sentence, Corsones said she didn’t have a lot of hope that future drug dealers would be immediately dissuaded, but she believed the criminal justice system was contributing to a “process” which could make a difference.