A former special education teacher who sold methamphetamine to an undercover officer four times was sentenced Wednesday to five years’ probation and 150 hours of community service.
Daniel J. Ellis, 37, of Davis Road, West Falls, pleaded guilty March 26 to four counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, a third-degree felony. Ellis had been part of a larger investigation led by New York State Police into meth sales in Western New York
Ellis, who resigned from his job at Holland Junior-Senior High School following his guilty plea, admitted in Erie County Court that he sold what defense attorney Kevin C. Condon described as small quantities of methamphetamine from his home and, at one time, in Buffalo.
Before sentencing, Condon told Judge Michael L. D’Amico that his client only made the personal drug sales to cover the cost of his own habit, which he attributed to “self-medicating” for mental health issues. He said that Ellis never sold drugs to anyone at his school or to children.
Ellis, speaking for himself, added that he never intended to harm anyone and apologized for his actions.
“The hardest thing is to look at my high school special ed students and admit what I’ve done," he said. “I’ve lost my career, which was much more than my job. It was my nights, my weekends, everything.”
Ellis could have received up to nine years in prison on each drug count. Condon pointed out that many people, including parents of some of his students and school employees, had written to the court attesting to Ellis’ good character.
In addition to the probation and community service, D’Amico ordered Ellis to repay $2,400 in restitution for the money the undercover officer paid him for the drugs. Assistant District Attorney John P. Gerken Jr. prosecuted the case.