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Email delays sentencing for Valatie man accused of DWAI

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Robert Perez
June 13, 2018 04:57 pm Updated: June 13, 2018 05:29 pm

HUDSON — A Valatie man’s sentencing was delayed Wednesday after an email meant for a Hudson attorney went to an attorney with the same name in Texas.

Robert Perez, 37, was found guilty in April of driving while ability impaired by drugs, a class E felony; after a jury trial in Columbia County Court.

State police arrested Perez during a traffic stop in Ghent the morning of May 29, 2017.

The jury announced a guilty verdict four days after the trial began April 16.

The Columbia County District Attorney’s Office applied to the court to have Perez sentenced as a repeat felon, but Perez’s defense attorney, Michael Howard, of Hudson, did not receive notice of the request, as required by the court.

Repeat, or predicate, felons face stricter sentences, according to state law.

“My office attempted to send notice to Mr. Howard apparently without success,” said Carl Whitbeck, an assistant district attorney prosecuting the case. “We did that by email several days ago, and apparently, it went to an attorney named Michael Howard in Dallas, Texas.”

Perez has a number of felony convictions that qualify him for repeat felon status, Whitbeck said.

Perez served five years in state prison on a conviction for third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class B felony; third-degree burglary, a class D felony; third-degree criminal mischief, a class E felony; and bribing a witness, a class D felony.

The burglary and criminal mischief charges stem from a Jan. 10, 2011, incident when the Mellenville Firehouse on county Route 9 was burglarized. Perez was also accused of bribing a witness at that time.

Perez’s drug possession charge stems from police raids in 2012 at an apartment on Route 217 in Philmont. Perez was found in possession of more than a half-ounce each of cocaine and marijuana.

Perez was released on parole March 15, 2017, and was on parole at the time of his arrest, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s website.

Perez has been held in the Columbia County Jail awaiting sentencing since his conviction in April.

Howard told the court he did not think it was appropriate to delay sentencing, but Rensselaer County Judge Jennifer Sober pushed back the sentencing and ordered the defense to respond to the prosecution’s application to the court by June 20.

A new sentencing date was set for July 2.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.