ITHACA, N.Y. — An attorney accused of planting drugs, pornography and liquor in a Tompkins County Legislator’s vehicle was sentenced Wednesday to three years of conditional discharge.

Jeffrey Butcher, 54, pleaded guilty in April to felony first-degree attempted perjury in exchange for a recommended sentence of three years of conditional discharge with no jail time. He was initially indicted on first-degree felony perjury and tampering with evidence.

According to court documents, Butcher planted a white powdery substance, an orange powdery substance, orange and pink pills, and a green leafy substance “that had the appearance and odor” of marijuana into Lansing Legislator Mike Sigler’s white Hyundai on Feb. 15, 2016 at the Tompkins Regional Airport.

He was initially also accused of lying about his involvement in the incident on May 2 while he was being questioned on the stand at the Tompkins County Family Court. Butcher is married to Sigler’s ex-wife.

In court Wednesday afternoon, Butcher received the initial recommended sentence, despite a different request from District Attorney Matt Van Houten.

Van Houten argued that Butcher was not “candid” with the Probation Department during the pre-sentence investigation, court documents indicated. The DA recommended that because of that, Butcher should be sentenced to a split sentence of six months in jail and conditional discharge.

Butcher’s attorney Jerome Mayersak argued to the court that he’d told his client to be direct and “narrow” during the PSI, which could account for Van Houten’s claim.

Judge John Rowley upheld the initial recommendation from the District Attorney’s Office, which offered no jail time.

In a written statement after the sentencing, Sigler said the following:

I’m incredibly disappointed by the Judge’s decision.  Jeffrey Butcher made false claims in court about planting drugs in my car, pleads guilty to a felony and receives no punishment from the state for that crime.  No community service, no fine, no jail time, no probation;  just an order of protection for me.  Not even punishment for exposing my daughter to all of this and trying to drag her into court.   

Butcher didn’t even have to talk about what he did.  If anything this has given me better insight into the justice system.  If this miscarriage can happen to someone with the resources to weather a storm like this, what about the person who doesn’t have those means.   The bottom line is my daughter was exposed to someone trying to frame her father by planting drugs, pornography, liquor, and substances that looked like cocaine and pot in his car, and the court did nothing.  I’m thankful that the appellate division takes felonies more seriously than the court does.

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.