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Man pleads guilty to threatening Skidmore student

BALLSTON SPA -- 49-year-old Lance Leonard pleaded guilty to 1st Degree Coercion based on threatening statements he made "to another person and instilling in the victim fear that he would cause physical injury to himself or another person."
On March 5, Leonard communicated with the victim, a Skidmore College student, who had recently ended a relationship with him.  The District Attorney's Office would not describe the relationship, other than saying that the two parties had known each other for several years. 
Leonard was not in the Capital Region when the threats were made, but instead did so electronically or by telephone.  He was arrested in New Jersey and extradited to New York.  The Saratoga County District Attorney's Office said that at no time were any students in danger.
"A plea to the highest charge possible was the only option we would consider due to the fear the defendant instilled in this young woman," District Attorney James Murphy said in a statement.  "I appreciate the good work of the Saratoga Springs Police Department and Skidmore Campus Safety who safeguarded the faculty, students and staff, and at the same time allowed business to go on 'as usual,' without too much inconvenience, recognizing that we must be vigilant during these unusual and thankfully rare events."
Leonard is scheduled to be sentenced on July 8.  The District Attorney's Office said that it is anticipated that he will be sentenced to jail time along with probationary supervision, which includes mental health counseling and treatment.  An eight year long order of protection is also expected.
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