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Queensbury drug suspect released without bail despite having no U.S. citizenship

Queensbury drug suspect released without bail despite having no U.S. citizenship

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QUEENSBURY — A citizen of the Dominican Republic who was arrested in September for allegedly possessing cocaine and heroin to sell at a Queensbury motel was released from jail without bail on Wednesday, as the felony charges he faces no longer qualify for bail in New York.

Leonardo A. Larancuent faces felony counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in connection with the seizure of 3 ounces of cocaine and quantities of heroin and marijuana from a room where he was staying at the Days Inn on Big Boom Road in Queensbury on Sept. 18.

State Police believe he had been selling narcotics from the hotel, with thousands of dollars in cash and a digital scale seized in addition to drugs.

A resident of New York City who is not a U.S. citizen, Larancuent was sent to Warren County Jail for lack of bail after his arrest and remained there until Wednesday.

That was when Warren County Judge John Hall had him brought to court to discuss a plea deal offer, as well as review whether he was eligible for release under the state’s bail laws that took effect Jan. 1.

Larancuent, 37, rejected a plea offer that would send him to state prison for up to 5 years, which resulted in Hall having to discuss his bail status under the state’s controversial new bail laws. He faces up to 24 years.

The defendant acknowledged in court that his only ties to Warren County were “friends” who he didn’t specify. He also told Hall he was not a citizen of the U.S., but under the state’s new bail statutes, whether a person is a U.S. citizen is no longer a factor for judges to consider when setting bail.

So Hall was required to release Larancuent without bail, with only a directive that he return and a warning that a trial could be held without him if he did not return for court.

He told Hall he planned to return and fight the charges.

“I want to litigate this case,” he said. “I want to be vindicated.”

He was not allowed to have back $5,665 in cash that was seized from him at the time of his arrest, though.

Don Lehman covers police and court matters, Warren County government and the outdoors. He can be reached at 518-742-3224 or dlehman@poststar.com

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