The attorney for former Southampton Town Councilman Bradley Bender has asked the judge in his drug case to consider a sentence that does not include time in prison, according to a memorandum filed June 17 in the Eastern District Court of New York.
Brian DeSesa of Bridgehamton said trauma suffered by Mr. Bender early in his life and his “charitable endeavors” in recent years could qualify him for a lenient sentencing when he appears before Judge Arthur Spatt Friday. Mr. DeSesa said Mr. Bender’s abusive upbringing led to his own drug habit.
Mr. DeSesa asked the judge to consider a sentence of five years’ probation, including one year of community confinement, and drug and psychological counseling.
Mr. DeSesa’s memo included more than 20 character references submitted by Southampton and Riverhead town residents on behalf of Mr. Bender, who pleaded guilty in November to one count of conspiracy to illegally distribute oxycodone.
In a letter submitted Tuesday, prosecutors asked the judge to instead consider a sentence of 37 months in prison, the maximum in a sentencing guideline that includes a minimum of 2 years behind bars, stating that it has become too common for people arrested in drug conspiracies to blame their own drug habits as their motivation.
“Bender sold over 3,000 oxycodone pills in exchange for cash and steroid pills for himself,” U.S. Attorney Robert Capers wrote. “He was pushing drugs into a community — Long Island — which is reeling from opioid abuse and overdose deaths.
“His dishonesty in contributing to the epidemic of prescription drug abuse while masquerading as a trusted councilman must be considered by the court in fashioning a sentence here,” Mr. Capers continued, noting a News-Review article stating Mr. Bender had been scheduled to listen to the concerns of community residents over crime in the Flanders-Riverside area on the day of his arrest.
Mr. Bender has already paid $5,000 in forfeiture money he was ordered to pay before his sentencing, court records show.
Riverhead Physician Assistant Michael Troyan, who allegedly prescribed the pills to Mr. Bender and has been charged in a he admitted to operating out of East End Urgent and Primary Care on East Main Street, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone last Friday. Prosecutors in his case have recommended a minimum of nine years in prison without the possibility of parole.
Mr. DeSesa previously told the News-Review Mr. Bender became addicted to prescription pills Mr. Troyan legally prescribed him following an injury four years ago. Mr. Bender admitted in court to exchanging the oxycodone pills for cash and steroids with another co-conspirator.
Mr. Bender resigned from his Town Board post the morning of his arrest.