Former felon gets prison time on drug charges

Steven R. Baker

PLATTSBURGH — A West Chazy man who was previously convicted of manslaughter was sentenced in Clinton County Court recently to prison time for attempting to sell cocaine.

Steven R. Baker, 32, pleaded guilty Aug. 29 to third-degree attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance, a felony, and was sentenced by Judge Kevin Ryan to seven years in prison and three years of post-release supervision.

On Jan. 16, 2006, Baker's car hit and killed 20-year-old Albert Montanaro III, a college student who was jogging along Route 373 near his home at Ausable Chasm.

He was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in 2008 after he pleaded guilty to the felony, avoiding a second trial that would have come after the State Supreme Court Appellate Division reversed the guilty verdict from his first trial from October 2006 because of a technical error in court proceedings.


Baker did not address the court during his cocaine sentencing, but Ryan spoke of his criminal history and disregard for the law.

"One would think that in light of the manslaughter conviction, where you took the life of another person, that would dedicate your life to society and do everything you could to forever be a law-abiding citizen," Ryan told Baker.

"And instead, shockingly, after being paroled on that charge, you continued to be involved in substances that you should not be involved with.

"That tragedy occurred because of your reckless driving and your alcohol use. A life was snuffed out in its prime.

"And then you get out and sell drugs, and then you plead guilty. And even between the date of the plea and the date of the sentencing, knowing that you had this hanging over your head, you, according to the District Attorney's Office, continued to sell drugs."


Nora Montanaro-Davis, Albert's mother, said she continues to struggle to come to terms with her son's death.

"I want to thank Judge Ryan for showing some compassion by recognizing that Steven Baker isn't just a drug dealer - he took somebody's life - and that he had a great opportunity to turn his life around and he didn't do it," she told the Press-Republican.

"To have a judge actually say that this is serious, you killed a human being; my Albert's life mattered, that made me feel good."

But prison time for her son's killer won't bring him back, Montanaro-Davis said.

"There will never be any justice for Albert. My baby, Albert III, will never come back to us."


As part of his sentence, Baker was ordered to pay $110 in restitution and $75 in surcharges.

Ryan ordered Baker to provide a DNA sample for the state data bank, and his license was revoked.

Baker began serving his sentence Sept. 4 at Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill, according to online records from the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie declined to comment on the case.

Clinton County Assistant District Attorney Douglas Collyer prosecuted the case.

Baker's attorney was Matthew Favro.

Email Felicia Krieg:

Twitter: @FeliciaKrieg

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Felicia Krieg was raised in Plattsburgh and graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2011 with a degree in English literature and print journalism. She started as a Press-Republican staff writer in 2012.

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