William "Bizz" Hunter III

ITHACA N.Y. — An Ithaca man who pleaded guilty to six felony drug charges in June was sentenced to prison Tuesday afternoon.

William “Bizz” Hunter III was sentenced to three years in prison with three years of post-release supervision for two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and four counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. He will also have to surrender about $3,600 in cash seized when he was arrested.

His attorney Thomas Kheel asked for the minimum 2-year prison sentence with 1.5 years of post-release supervision.

William “Bizz” Hunter III
William “Bizz” Hunter III

He said his client, while a predicate felon, has never committed a violent crime and has taken responsibility for his actions and returned to court for his sentencing despite being out on bail.

“He has appeared here knowing that he’s going to prison today,” Kheel said. “This is a classic drug culture case and should be sentenced appropriately.”

Assistant District Attorney Eliza Filipowski argued for the maximum prison time allowed within the plea deal — four years with three years of post-release supervision.

She said that without the deal, Hunter could have faced a minimum of 10 years in prison if sentenced consecutively for the charges.

“This has been his main source of income,” she said about Hunter’s history of drug dealing, noting that he is unemployed.

Hunter was taken into custody around 3:45 p.m. May 15 near the intersection of South Corn Street and Cleveland Avenue, police said.

Officials said they found 82.1 grams of cocaine when they searched Hunter.

A warrant had been issued for Hunter’s arrest after police say he hit a man at least two times in the head on March 27 on the 100 block of South Cayuga Street.

Judge Joseph Cassidy said he took several factors into consideration when determining sentencing, including: Hunter’s nonviolent offenses, his criminal background (a felony and four misdemeanors), and New York State’s efforts to not warehouse nonviolent drug offenders for extended periods of time in prison.

“It’s not a harmless crime. It does poison the community. It does bring violence to the community,” Cassidy said.

He said Hunter may be eligible for shock incarceration — a  bootcamp style prison program — which could help rehabilitate and shorten Hunter’s time in prison.

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.