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Former Totes McGoats actor gets probation

LOCKPORT – The former heroin dealer who became locally famous as Niagara Falls recycling mascot Totes McGoats was continued on probation Thursday after completing a court-supervised drug treatment program.

James L. Dolson, 50, will serve one more year of probation after a successful two-year stint in the judicial diversion program of drug rehabilitation.

“It’s been some ups and downs. I became a mascot voluntarily and it opened up a whole new world. It’s been crazy,” Dolson said.

Dolson risked nine years in state prison if he had failed to get clean.

He had pleaded guilty to a felony, third-degree sale of a controlled substance, after selling heroin from his car to a customer who turned out to be a police informant.

Assistant Public Defender Charles F. Pitarresi said, “I’m really proud of him, because most people don’t make it through that program, and he did.”

Dolson was congratulated by County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III, who earlier had allowed Dolson to reduce his plea from the felony to a misdemeanor, seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance.

Dolson put on a goat head and a blue T-shirt last summer as “Totes McGoats,” a cartoonish character who promoted the city’s new recycling program. The character became an Internet sensation.

A presentencing report by Dolson’s probation officer referred to him as a “garbage cop,” but Pitarresi said, “I appreciate his efforts in making our city of Niagara Falls more livable.”

Dolson, whose mascot duties seem to have ended, told the judge, “I’m just trying to do the right thing.”