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Falls cocaine dealer risks 24-year sentence in diversion program

LOCKPORT – A Niagara Falls man who pleaded guilty Tuesday to twice selling cocaine in the City of Lockport is risking a maximum of 24 years in state prison if he flunks out of the judicial diversion program of court-supervised drug treatment.

Joshae C. Hudson, who listed an address on 13th Street in the Falls after previously being described as homeless, marked his 32nd birthday by pleading guilty to two counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. As a repeat felon – he’s been to state prison before for selling drugs – Hudson could receive up to 12 years on each case, which could run consecutively. The crimes occurred Dec. 26, 2013, and June 25 of this year, with the latter sale occurring right after a court hearing on the older case.

Hudson could have pleaded guilty without entering the high-stakes diversion program. The Niagara County District Attorney’s Office generally requires those who enter diversion to admit to the highest charge available, but Hudson passed up a non-diversion plea offer to two counts of fifth-degree sale, with a maximum sentence of four years on each. County Judge Sara Sheldon told Hudson the chances of consecutive sentencing in that situation would have been “pretty minimal.”

“He’s got a big risk, going into judicial diversion,” Sheldon said. “He’s got an addiction, a bad one. He needs help.”

If Hudson gets clean in the two-year program, his charges will be reduced to misdemeanors with nonjail sentences.