Local marine honored as statewide success story from court program

Capital Region marine honored at State of Judiciary

Anthony Garcia was honored at the State of the Judiciary by New York State Chief Judge Rowan Wilson.

A young man who went from facing prison time to serving in the Marines was honored Tuesday at the State of the Judiciary by New York State Chief Judge Rowan Wilson in Albany.

NewsChannel 13’s Elaine Houston exclusively profiled Lance Corporal Anthony Garcia and his connection with Albany County Judge Andra Ackerman in 2022.

Garcia is stationed in North Carolina, he’s married and runs several businesses.

He credited where he is now to a traffic stop and the discovery of a gun he says was for self-defense. It stopped the 25-year-old from Schenectady from going down a very different path.

Garcia said of the trooper who arrested him, “If he was here right now, I’d shake his hand, hug him and thank him. He’d probably be really confused.”  

He told the room full of judges and attorneys gathered at the Court of Appeals that Judge Ackerman and the diversion program she developed are what saved him.

“He was really struggling, and it was a beautiful thing to watch him grow throughout the course of the year in the U-Can program,” Ackerman said.

The U-Can program is for younger offenders, reducing their sentence if they get a job, their GED, stay out of trouble and get a mentor. Garcia did all of that, growing especially close with his mentor. a felony gun charge became a misdemeanor.

Judge Ackerman spoke Tuesday of her personal connection to Garcia and other younger offenders who lack support much like she did as a child in foster care.  

“I resonated with the struggling youth. I had a background very similar to most of them, and I thought about, how did I make it here on one side of the bench and they’re on the other side of the bench, and it was having mentors in my life,” she said.

In turn, Garcia said he wanted to support young people in his community. He plans next to serve as a local police officer, hoping to one day work his way up to an agency such as the FBI or ATF. He said he wanted to be the kind of law enforcement professional who will connect with youth.

“I want to be able to be that individual who helps them understand like, we are not the enemy, we are people who are available to you if you need help, to lend a helping hand,” he said. “I want to be that officer to be able to, you know, take time out of my day, even if it’s on my lunch break, get out of my squad car, go to the community.”

Judge Ackerman said she hopes to continue expanding the U-Can program, which is currently in at least six courts in New York State and is run at no additional cost to taxpayers.

Local marine recognized as success story of diversion court

He was a young man from the capital region who ended up on the wrong side of the law. Today he's being honored by New York State's Chief Judge.