ITHACA, N.Y . — A man who admitted to having heroin in the town of Ithaca was sentenced to a lesser felony charge Thursday afternoon after a mistake was made during plea bargaining.

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Javaun Delfyette, of Brooklyn, was sentenced to two years in prison and two years of post-release supervision for third-degree attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class C felony. He is also eligible to participate in the Willard Drug Treatment Program.

Last week, he attempted to accept a sentence for his guilty plea to third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class B felony, which is more severe. He and his lawyer were under the impression he would be eligible for a drug treatment program.

But at the last minute in court, Judge John Rowley realized that Delfyette may not be eligible for the substance abuse program because he is a predicate felon.

Delfyette then had about a week to decide whether he would accept the plea deal without the option for drug treatment or try to negotiate better terms through his lawyer.

His eligibility for the treatment program makes a big difference in his sentencing.

Without the option for drug treatment, he will have to serve two full years in prison. With the treatment, he will be released on parole when he completes the program — likely in about 90 days.

Thursday’s sentencing reflects the error in the original plea deal.

“A mistake was made,” Judge John Rowley said. “Any time a mistake is made, I’m empowered to review it.”

Rowley said he does not know if Delfyette feels moral guilt for selling heroin in Tompkins County, but said that, as a judge, he sees the impact of heroin nearly daily.

Just this week, he said, “A 30-year-old died in his home from an overdose on heroin — maybe your heroin.”

“It’s  a business that is a plague on our community and a plague on any community that has been affected,” he said.

Rowley said it seems like Delfyette is in a perpetual cycle of drug use and sales, but noted that he hopes he’s wrong and the defendant will have the chance to reform at the treatment center.

Delfyette declined to comment at the sentencing.

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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.