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Two Falls men succeed in judicial diversion program

LOCKPORT – Two Niagara Falls men who admitted to selling cocaine were allowed to reduce their pleas from felonies to misdemeanors this week, as Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon promised them sentences of three years’ probation in drug cases that led to their successful participation in the judicial diversion program of court-supervised drug treatment.

On Thursday, Michael A. Thornton, 54, of Spruce Avenue, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He had pleaded guilty in October 2013 to a felony drug sale count, risking up to 12 years in prison if he had washed out of treatment. “You’re an old dog who embraced the new tricks,” Sheldon told him.

On Wednesday, Roland T. White, 42, of McKoon Avenue, who risked the same sentence as Thornton when entering probation in December 2013, received the same legal result. He and Thornton are to be officially sentenced in August, and the time they spent in diversion will count toward the three years’ probation.