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December 29, 2014 - 8:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Basom, crime, Stafford, Alabama, bergen.

Ramon E. Esparza, 25, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny, obstructing governmental administration, 2nd, and criminal mischief. Esparza is accused of stealing a purse while at a local restaurant. The call came in at 10:52 p.m., Friday. When police arrived and located Esparza, he allegedly failed to comply with an officer's instructions. There was allegedly a brief physical struggle before Esparza was taken into custody by Officer Marc Lawrence. Esparza was jailed on $2,500 bail.

Sade A. Poole, 22, of West Avenue, Medina, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Poole allegedly struck an employee of a local bar. The call came in at 1:16 a.m., Saturday.

William B. Coley, 44, of Frisbee Terrace, Holley, is charged with petit larceny. Coley is accused of stealing $764 from a misplaced wallet at a location on Park Road, Batavia, on Nov. 5. 

Dustin V. Gothard, 26, of Wolcottsville Road, Akron, is charged with petit larceny and unlawful possession of marijuana. Gothard allegedly stole a bottle of cough medication from Tops Market. Upon his arrest, he was allegedly found in possession of marijuana.

Kayleigh Jean Allen, 22, of North Byron Road, Elba, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater and failure to signal a turn. Allen was stopped at 2:57 a.m. Dec. 21 on North Byron Road, Elba, by Deputy Eric Seppala.

Jason Scott Stanley, 22, of Judge Road, Basom, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and speeding. Stanley was stopped at 11:40 p.m., Friday, on Batavia Oakfield Townline Road by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Michele Lynn Buccinna, 46, of Alleghany Road, Basom, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, and two counts of speeding (77 in a 45-mph zone and 52 in a 30-mph zone). Buccinna was stopped at 1:45 a.m. Saturday on Pearl Street, Oakfield, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Antonio Lee Escobar, 19, of 156 Woodside Court, Holley, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Escobar was allegedly found in possession of marijuana after a traffic stop on a suspicious condition complaint at 10:30 p.m. Dec. 21 by Deputy Christopher Erion.

Todd Wilbur Ellinwood, 54, of South Union Street, Rochester, is charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, unlawful possession of marijuana, unregistered motor vehicle, uninspected motor vehicle and failure to signal. Ellinwood was stopped at 8:11 p.m. Saturday on Rochester Street, Bergen, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Martha Ruth Thorn, 34, of Main Road, Stafford, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, and lights not meeting standards. Thorn was stopped at 2:49 a.m. Sunday on Main Road, Stafford, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

December 20, 2014 - 3:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen, Hesperus Masonic Lodge.

Members of the Hesperus Masonic Lodge in Bergen gathered at the Bergen Fire Hall this morning to engage in one of their holiday traditions -- putting together Christmas baskets of food and gifts for needy members of the community.

Pictured: Harris Busmire, Joyce Sands, Richard Sands, Charles Coye and Bob Aradine.

December 19, 2014 - 2:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron, byron-bergen, bergen.

Press release:

The Byron-Bergen Central School District community has been doing an amazing job of providing assistance to some of our community families during the holidays for many years. 

The B-B community members, administrators, faculty, staff, and students donated toys and games, clothing items, rolls of wrapping paper, and more than 1,000 nonperishable food items. 

The B-B winter sports teams donated more than 500 nonperishable food items and assisted with packing fruit bags! Also, close to $2,400 was donated by the community, administrators, faculty, and staff so we could purchase gifts for families in need from our school district. 

All the food items will be picked up by the local Hesperus Lodge No. 837 Free & Accepted Masons for sorting and packing into 90-plus food baskets for local families (as they have done for many, many years), with several community, Board of Education, and school district members pitching in to help. 

Sponsors of this holiday goodwill were organized by Hesperus Lodge No. 837 Free & Accepted Masons and coordinated by Dick Sands; and include the faculty, staff, and students of Byron-Bergen CSD; the Byron-Bergen community members, and area businesses. 

Food baskets and gifts will be delivered on Saturday, Dec. 20, by the Masons, community, and school volunteers. All involved truly believe in the magic of the holiday season!

December 8, 2014 - 6:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, bergen.

A accident is reported in the area of 7402 Clinton Street Road, near Lyman Road, Bergen.

Unknown injuries.

Traffic is blocked.

Bergen fire dispatched.

UPDATE 6:12 p.m.: The first chief on scene reports minor injuries.

November 19, 2014 - 6:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, bergen.

In the interest of justice, John Robinson, the 51-year-old Bergen resident arrested on a menacing charge after pointing a shotgun at a possible intruder into his home, is a free man.

Town of Bergen Justice Donald R. Kunego issued his ruling today on a motion by defense attorney Brian DeCarolis that the charge against his client be dismissed.

In a four-page ruling that Kunego read from the bench, the judge did just that, saying that a man has a right to defend his castle.

"People expect to be able to protect 'their castle' from attack," Kunego said. "Mr. Robinson's castle was under attack by Mr. Crooks. People confronted with the same circumstances presented to Mr. Robinson on the day in question would unquestionably engage in similar behavior with the expectation that they were properly and lawfully defending themselves."

According to Kunego, Brockport resident Michael Crooks went to Robinson's home Jan. 13, 2013, to confront Robinson, whom he had never met in person before, over some sort of relationship between Robinson and Mrs. Crooks that Mr. Crooks didn't like.

In Kunego's recital of the facts of the case, Crooks banged on Robinson's door, yelled and threatened him and kicked at the door hard enough to damage it. When Robinson didn't open the door, he went to another portion of the house presumably to gain entry.

"Due to Mr. Crooks' relentless and persistent actions, aggressive demeanor and verbal threats, Mr. Robinson felted threatened in his own home," Kunego said. "He feared that Mr. Crooks was not going to leave until at the very least he had entered his home and physically confronted him and at worse he would physically harm him."

Kunego said he believed Robinson's response was entirely lawful and justified.

After the ruling, Robinson said he was relieved, but he also expected to prevail.

"I wasn't really that nervous because I thought I did everything right," Robinson said. "I called 9-1-1. I put the dogs away. I avoided contact with him and all I did was stay in the house and tried not to have the conflict. When I talked to the state troopers, when they were there, they said I did the right thing."

The day of the confrontation, Crooks heard later that a trooper wanted to talk with him. He went to the Batavia barracks, where he was arrested by Trooper Eric Daigler. He was charged with criminal mischief, 4th, for damaging the door of Robinson's home on Lake Road in Bergen.

The door was pretty heavily damaged, Robinson said today, as well as the screen, from Crooks kicking and hitting it.

Crooks, who had no prior criminal record, eventually received an ACD (adjudication in contemplation of dismissal). As soon as his six months of good behavior was up, he started lobbying for the arrest of Robinson. First he went to the State Police, but local troopers wouldn't even consider it, so he went to the Sheriff's Office.

There he found a sympathetic ear with a sergeant who turned the case over to Deputy Matthew Butler.

"When Officer Butler showed up 15 months later and told me I was under arrest, I couldn't believe it," Robinson said. "I was like, you've got to be kidding me, right? He told me right then and there that he didn't want to arrest me, but he had to. I don't know what he meant by that. I don't know if he was forced by his upper commanders, but that's what he told me. He said, 'John, I don't want to do it, but I've got to.' "

Robinson's arrest didn't sit well with the troopers familiar with the case, which was part of Daigler's testimony in a hearing on the motion to dismiss Oct. 1.

"I was dumbfounded," Daigler said. "First and foremost, it's common practice not to take on other agency's cases. We refer to it as 'cop shopping.' It happens. Usually, we are pretty good at stopping people who are just trying to get the right answer. They are looking for the answer they want. That's usually the Sheriff's Office policy."

The State Police response to Robinson's arrest is one element of the case that helped Kunego arrive at his decision to dismiss the charge.

"It cannot be overlooked that after a full and complete investigation of this incident by the New York State Police and after consultation with the Genesee County District Attorney's Office, a decision was made that there was insufficient evidence to even charge Mr. Robinson," Kunego said, referring to the initial investigation and consideration of charging Robinson in 2013.

"Significantly, the New York State Police still believe that Mr. Robinson should not have been charged and are not supportive of his prosecution."

Factors in Kunego's decisions, which are part of the findings in an "interest of justice" dismissal, are:

  • Menacing, 2nd, a Class A misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is one year in jail. Given Robinson's lack of criminal record, his steady employment and longtime residence in the same home, he would not have received any jail time even if convicted. The dismissal might have been harder for Robinson to obtain if any of those facts weren't true.
  • There was no real harm to anyone from Robinson wielding a shotgun inside his own home. More significantly, Kunego said, only Robinson contacted police in relation to the incident. Crooks didn't contact police until after he inquired with a family member and learned that Daigler was looking for him.
  • If the case did go to trial, Kunego said, it would be unlikely, given the facts of the case, that Robinson would be convicted by a jury, especially in New York, where a person who is protecting life and home is legally protected in taking action to advance that protection.
  • While nobody in the Sheriff's Office can be accused of misconduct in the case, Kunego said, the fact that his arrest came 15 months after the arrest cannot be ignored.
  • Sending Robinson to jail would not advance the cause of justice, Kunego said, nor would it make the community safer given the unique circumstances of the case and the lack of any prior arrests or criminal complaints against Robinson.
  • Dismissal, Kunego ruled, would advance public confidence in the criminal justice system, while further prosecution of Robinson would erode public confidence, since any reasonable person, according to Kunego, would do exactly what Robinson did Jan. 13, 2013, in the same circumstances.

"I'm glad he went this way, but I can't believe it took this long," Robinson said.

November 17, 2014 - 2:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen.

A CSX train is reportedly leaking diesel fuel while stopped on the mainline between West Bergen Road and Dublin Road in Bergen.

Bergen fire dispatched.

UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: (on scene) West Bergen is blocked by stalled train. Unknown how much fuel has spilled. ESU team responding. 

UPDATE 4 p.m.: The housing on a brake broke and sent shards of metal into the fuel tank, causing two puncture points. An estimated 1,000 gallons of fuel leaked out, about 500 at the spot where the engine stopped. CSX a is bringing in a crane to lift the engine so the wheel can be replaced. CSX crews are cleaning up the spill, which is confined to the gravel track bedding, under the supervision of DEC. Bergen fire has cleared the scene. The crossing at West Bergen Road will be closed for several hours. 

Shredded wood at rail crossing on West Bergen, caused by the damaged brake cover.

November 10, 2014 - 5:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, pembroke, corfu, bergen.

Shane Irwin Crosby, 38, of North Bergen Road, Bergen, is charged with manufacturing an illicit alcoholic beverage, a Class E felony. Crosby was found to have an illegal moonshine still during a visit by probation officers at 8:40 a.m., Oct. 26. Deputy John Weis was dispatched to investigate. Crosby is accused of operating a still without being a properly licensed distiller. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Dale S. Berglund, 39, of West Allis, Wisc., is charged with felony DWI. Berglund was stopped at 8:45 p.m. Sunday in the Village of Corfu for allegedly driving 51 in a 35 mph zone.

Willie Marshall, 61, of Batavia, is charged with forcible touching. Marshall was arrested following an investigation by the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation into a complaint that he inappropriately touched a 13-year-old girl while staying with her mother at a local motel.

Brett Nelson Magoffin, 39, Genesee Street, Pembroke, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater and failure to keep right. Magoffin was stopped at 5:27 p.m. Sunday on Read Road, Pembroke, by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Macayla T. Brown, 18, Ja'Nelle A. Smith, 18, and a 17-year-old, all of 8170 Batavia Stafford Townline Road, are charged with petit larceny. The trio are accused of stealing $366 in merchandise from Walmart.

Kaylee Louise Middaugh, 19, of Little John Road, Belfast, is charged with petit larceny. Middaugh is accused of pushing a cart full of merchandise out of Walmart without paying for the items.

Eric Vernon Biscaro, 57, of Ellicott Street Road, Batavia, is charged with assault ,3rd. Biscaro is accused of hurting another person during a domestic incident.

October 29, 2014 - 6:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, bergen.

Ted E. Kingsley, 42, of Prune Street, Batavia, was arrested on a bench warrant. Police were responded to a tip that Ted Kingsley, wanted on a City Court warrant, was residing at 11 Prune St., Batavia. Patrols went to the residence but were unsuccessful in locating Kingsley. Patrols checked the surrounding area, including the cemeteries on Harvester Avenue. During the check, a subject identified as Kingsley was seen running through Batavia Cemetery. Officers gave chase and Kingsley eventually stopped at the request of a police officer and he was taken into custody without incident. Kingsley was jailed on $100,000 cash bail. (Photo: Monday's arrest in the Batavia Cemetery submitted by Jim Woodhams III.)

Maleak H. Green, 21, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st, harassment, 2nd, criminal obstruction of breathing and unlawful imprisonment. No details released on the alleged incident, reported at 1:20 a.m. Green was jailed on $10,000 bail.

Christina L. Fox, 26, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Fox is accused of stealing the property of somebody she knows.

Samantha L. Hicks-O'Connell, 27, of Ellsworth Avenue, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, unlicensed operation and back seat passenger under age 16 without a safety belt. Hicks-O'Connell was stopped at 5:34 p.m Oct. 8 on Liberty Street, by Officer Jason Ivison after a complaint was received of a female driving a pickup truck with a 10-year-old child riding in the back. NOTE: After reviewing the press release following a complaint by Hicks-O'Connell (see comments), we should note the release does not specifically state a traffic stop was involved in the chargers.

Neal Anthony Sendlak, 25, of Harlem Road, Amherst, is charged with possession of a hypodermic instrument, operation of an unregistered motor vehicle and no seat belt. Sendiak was stopped at 3:50 p.m. Tuesday on Lewiston Road, Batavia, by Deputy Joseph Corona for alleged traffic violations.

Curtis Lamont Williams, 34, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, was arrested for an alleged Family Court Act violation -- failure to pay child support. Williams was arraigned in Family Court and released because his child support is almost up to date. He was ordered to return to court Nov. 10.

Ronald Warran Sloat, 73, of Godfreys Pond Road, Bergen, is charged with trespass. Sloat is accused of failure to leave another person's property after being told several times to leave.

Bruce Devan Reid, 52, of Saint Paul Street, Rochester, is charged with possession of burglar tools and attempted petit larceny. Reid is accused of possession of tools that would have helped him steal items from parked cars. He was jailed on $4,000 bail.

October 29, 2014 - 5:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in railroad, bergen, csx.

CSX has postponed its planned closure of the crossing on Route 262 in Bergen.

The closure had been scheduled to start tomorrow.

No new closure date has been announced.

October 27, 2014 - 10:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen.

County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens says he was notified late Monday afternoon by CSX that there will be a rail grade crossing closure on Townline Road (Route 262) in Bergen from Thursday morning through Saturday afternoon.

The detour is Jerico Road to Route 33 to Route 19.

October 27, 2014 - 3:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, bergen.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved an application for an amended purchase agreement for Insurance Auto Auctions, Inc. (IAA) at its Oct. 27 board meeting.

“Even before IAA has put a shovel in the ground, the company is already expanding its footprint which bodes well for our region in terms of jobs and continued economic development in Genesee County,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO, GCEDC.

In June, the GCEDC board accepted IAA’s offer to purchase 30 acres at Apple Tree Acres. During the company’s due diligence period, IAA’s engineers discovered that more useable acres were required to meet the long-term objectives of the company. The GCEDC and the Town of Bergen worked with IAA to increase the proposed site to 36.2 acres. The Apple Trees Acres Corporate Park is a 119-acre site in the Town of Bergen located on routes 33 and 19.

“IAA is committed to expanding its presence in communities where there is strong customer demand,” said John Kett, CEO and president of IAA. “We look forward to being part of the Bergen community, and thank the GCEDC board for approving this application, which will enable us to better serve our customers and providers in the area.”

Insurance Auto Auctions, Inc., (IAA) is the leading live and live-online North American salvage vehicle auction company with the most auction facilities footprint in North America. The company is committed to providing customers with the highest level of services and has more than 160 auction facilities across the United States and Canada offering towing, financing and titling services. IAA provides registered buyers from around the globe with millions of opportunities to bid on and purchase donated and salvaged vehicles.

October 21, 2014 - 6:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, veterans, byron, bergen.

The way Jim Neider sees it, stealing markers from the graves of men and women who served their country through military service is "as low as you can go."

Neider was reacting to news that more than 400 bronze markers -- perhaps many more -- have been stolen from the graves in at least a half-dozen cemeteries in the Byron-Bergen area.

The case is being investigated by both the State Police and the Sheriff's Office.

The markers are placed by families and veterans service organizations and, in many cases, were pushed into the turf beside the headstone of a veteran decades ago.

The markers are designed as flag holders and include a bronze medallion designating a veterans group, such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars. The medallion typically weighs about a pound and the current replacement value is $32 each.

"They're very expensive," said Nieder, a local veterans leader. "I do discourage people now from getting them because they do have a tendency to walk."

Nieder said since the 1990s, veterans and families have been more likely to buy aluminum markers, which have no scrap metal value to speak of, or less commonly, plastic.

Whoever is involved in the theft of the markers is facing a charge of grand larceny, said Trooper Victor Morales, public information officer for Troop A.

Nieder pointed out that there is a law now on the books that covers both the sale and purchase of markers used on the graves of veterans. Section 450-A of the state's general business law says "it shall be unlawful for any person, firm, association or corporation to engage in the buying or selling of metal cemetery markers and flag holders bearing the insignia of any veterans' organization placed upon the graves of veterans."

Each violation of the law is punishable by a $500 fine or 15 days in jail or both.

Morales said the State Police are investigating the left of markers in four cemeteries in the Byron-Bergen area. More than 400 markers were stolen from these cemeteries. The Sheriff's Office is investigating thefts from other cemeteries, but Morales didn't know how many other cemeteries or how many additional markers were stolen from those locations.

We've been unable to contact the investigator with the Sheriff's Office handling the case.

The disappearance of the flag holders was discovered over the weekend. It's unknown when they might have been taken.

When asked for his reaction to the thefts, Neider said his first thought wouldn't be publishable. He said this isn't like stealing something from somebody's front lawn. The thieves are going into graveyards and stealing from those who unselfishly served and are dead and buried and unable to defend themselves. 

"It's the ultimate slap in the face to these veterans and their families," Neider said. "They earned these markers by their service. It's akin to the problem in Batavia earlier this summer of people going in and desecrating headstones. It's almost beyond that because these markers are earned by these veterans, and it's a cemetary for crying out loud. ... It's pretty low. As low as you can go."

Anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of these items, or, who may have information on the larcenies is asked to contact the State Police in Batavia at (585) 344-6200 or the Genesee County Sheriff's Office (585) 343-5000.

UPDATE 7:40 p.m.: We just spoke with Tom Williams, with the American Legion in Bergen. He said local Legion leaders are trying to figure out what to do. It would cost $16,000 to replace all of the markers. 

"That's a lot of money," Williams said. "You know how hard that is to come by."

He doesn't have a count on how many total markers were stolen. There's still an inventory taking place of all the graveyards in the Byron-Bergen region.

Among the more than 400 known to be stolen was the one that marked his father's grave, said Williams, who served in the Seabees from 1963 to 1966.

He doesn't think much of the perpetrators who lifted the markers of America's heroes.

"Those are people who made sure we were kept free," Williams said. "They did their job. They left their homes, their families. I did that, the same as my dad. It's just the idea that whoever did this is a real son of a bitch. It just bothers me. Why would they come here? Why would they do that? There are people who are nuts. They don't understand. They have no clue."

Photo: For the purpose of illustration, a picture of a marker in a local cemetery. If you see these, made of bronze, and they're not in a cemetery, contact local law enforcement.

October 18, 2014 - 8:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, bergen.

A car struck a tree at Warboys and Sautell roads, Bergen. There are injuries and a victim may have a broken leg. Bergen fire and Mercy medics are responding.

October 15, 2014 - 11:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in railroad, trains, bergen, csx.

Route 19 through the Village of Bergen is closed to all but local traffic while crews rip out the current crossing and construct a new one. The recommended alternate route is Jericho Road. Village officials only learned of the closure after CSX erected signs, and officials say that when contacted, CSX was unable to provide a timeline for how long the work will take or when the crossing will reopen.

October 15, 2014 - 11:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in health, Seniors, bergen, Hickory Park.

A bit of rain didn't dampen spirits in Bergen this morning where officials dedicated a new "life trail" system in Hickory Park.

The system, made up of seven, three-sided stations with a series of exercises people can perform, is designed to give seniors in particular a chance to be active and improve their physical health.

It was funded by a $50,000 state grant, secured with the help of Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, Assemblyman Steve Hawley and County Legislator Bob Bausch.

"We have put in place a parks master plan with a focus on fitness and wellness," said Mayor Anna Marie Barclay. "In particular, we want to give opportunities to seniors, which is our fastest growing population, an opportunity, because there are not as many opportunities for seniors as there are for other age groups. We want to encourage our seniors to come out, and not just our seniors. We invite seniors from all of the surrounding communities to come out to our park."

Ranzenhofer said he was proud to have helped bring about the project.

"I'm very excited to be here," Ranzenhofer said. "The comment about the weather, we were talking before about it being a rainy day, but it really is shining today, even though you may not see the sun. On a project like this, with your hard work, collectively, we were able to do a very good thing for the village residents, and thanks for including me."

October 10, 2014 - 4:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, bergen.

When I was out there today, I liked this early-fall-day scene I spotted across the road from Byron-Bergen School.

BTW: Byron-Bergen is hosting a first-ever Friday night football game tonight. It's a big local football night. Batavia HS has its homecoming and the 5-0 Le Roy team meets 5-0 Bishop Kearney in a homecoming game. (I'll be in Le Roy).

October 2, 2014 - 2:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, bergen.

An accident with injuries is reported at 7666 Swamp Road, Bergen, near or at the intersection with Jerico Road. It's a small dump truck vs. car. Bergen fire and Mercy medics are responding

October 2, 2014 - 12:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, bergen.

These indictments were handed down from the Genesee County Grand Jury this week:

Joan A. Gliwski is accused of criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree, a Class D felony. It is alleged that between August 2013 and January 2014 in the Town of Bergen she knowingly possessed stolen property with the intent to benefit herself or another person other than an owner or to impede the recovery by an owner. Moreover, the value of the property exceeded $3,000. The property was various merchandise stolen from seven retail stores.

Maria A. Gardiner is accused of criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree, a Class D felony. It is alleged that between August 2013 and January 2014 in the Town of Bergen she knowingly possessed stolen property with the intent to benefit herself or another person other than an owner or to impede the recovery by an owner. Moreover, the value of the property exceeded $3,000. The property was various merchandise stolen from seven retail stores.

Brian R. Croakley is accused of driving while intoxicated, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on May 31, 2013, in the Town of Bergen, he operated a 2010 Dodge on Route 19 while in an intoxicated condition. In addition, he is indicted by way of Special Information of having been convicted in the Town of Bergen Court of driving while intoxicated as a misdemeanor on June 16, 2010. This conviction was within 10 years of the crime alleged in the indictment.

October 1, 2014 - 6:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, bergen.

A Brockport man who claims he had a shotgun pointed at his head by a local resident testified today that he couldn't get State Police to even consider his side of the story before he was arrested on a charge of criminal mischief.

After the charge against Micheal Crooks was dismissed (under what's called an ACD -- adjudication in contemplation of dismissal), he did what a trooper and attorney labeled "cop shopping." 

Crooks went to the Sheriff's Office and found that Sgt. Ron Meides was willing to listen to his side of the story. As a result, John Robinson, of North Lake Road, Bergen, was arrested by Deputy Matthew Butler and charged with menacing, 2nd.

The attorney for Robinson, Kevin DeCarolis, has requested Justice Donald Kunego dismiss the charge against his client "in the interest of justice."

Kunego held the hearing today as part of the motion process. He will issue a written ruling at a later date.

He's already received written arguments from both DeCarolis and Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell on the motion.

The case stems from a confrontation Jan. 13, 2013. Crooks contacted both the State Police and the Sheriff's Office about pursuing charges against Robinson in November 2013. Robinson was arrested in April of this year.

Trooper Eric Daigler, who arrested Crooks based on a complaint by Robinson that Crooks damaged his screen door while trying to get into his house, testified today that he was confused and angry when he learned Butler was about to arrest Robinson.

He said typically, law enforcement officers don't involve themselves in cases that have been handled by other agencies.

He felt the case had been closed in January 2013 with the arrest of Crooks.

"I was dumbfounded," Daigler said. "First and foremost, it's common practice not to take on other agencies cases. We refer to it as 'cop shopping.' It happens. Usually, we are pretty good at stopping people who are just trying to get the right answer. They are looking for the answer they want. That's usually the Sheriff's Office policy."

Daigler said it was his position at the time of the incident that Robinson was doing exactly what he's allowed to do under the law -- protect his property and himself. 

"He didn't conduct himself in a manner that should be arrested," Daigler said. "He was in his home. He armed himself and he called 9-1-1 and informed dispatchers he had armed himself. He was well within his rights in his own home when a man he never met came to his door and was yelling and screaming."

Daigler consulted with his supervisor, Sgt. Ron Lobur, and other troopers, who all concurred, arrest Crooks, but not Robinson.

Since the arrest of Robinson, Daigler said, everybody he's spoken to in the local law enforcement community, with the exception of Meides, are bothered that Robinson was arrested.

"I've had 10 members of the Sheriff's Office come to me independently and voice their displeasure with the case," Daigler said.

Crooks testified that Daigler never even asked for his version of events before telling him he would be arrested.

Contrary to prior reports, Crooks said he didn't try to hide from troopers before being contact. He said he didn't even know that in his "assertive" knocking he damaged the door, and to this day, he isn't convinced that he did.

After the confrontation, he said he went to a job site in Brighton -- he's a construction manager -- and then went home and discovered he had a message from Daigler that evening. He immediately returned the call, and when he didn't get a call back after an hour, he called again.

When he spoke to Daigler, Daigler told him to meet him at the Batavia barracks. When he asked why, he said Daigler told him he was going to be arrested on a criminal mischief charge.

At that point, Crooks said, he decided he wouldn't make a statement without an attorney present.

On the advice of his attorney, he didn't pursue charges against Robinson until after the term of his ACD expired (six months).

Crooks was upset, he said, because he believed Robinson was involved in some sort of relationship with is wife.

He said he first became aware of the relationship some time around October of 2012.

He thought it had ended, but on Jan. 12, he said, his wife went to a party with their two daughters, ages 11 and 14.

His wife became drunk at the party, he testified this afternoon, and placed numerous calls to Robinson.

The girls became aware of what was going on and tried to get her to stop. That led to a physical confrontation between mother and daughters, he said.

That was what really upset him, he said, and convinced him he should talk with Robinson about not having further contact with Mrs. Crooks because of the stress it was causing for his daughters.

He testified that he didn't make any verbal threats to Robinson. That the only thing he yelled once he figured out Robinson was in fact at home Jan. 13, 2013, was "come out you coward."

He said after about two minutes, when it was clear Robinson wasn't going to come out, he decided to leave. 

He testified that as he walked down a sidewalk close to the house he caught some movement through a window and turned to look.

"There was Mr. Robinson," Crooks said. "He was holding a shotgun and he rushed right towards the window and screamed absolutely bloody murder that he was going to blow my fucking head off."

He said the barrel was only inches from the window.

"My heart stopped," Crooks said. "I've never looked down the barral of a gun that wasn't removed from a gun that closely in my life. I've been around guns my whole life. I own guns. I've owned guns since I was 19. I'm not afraid to be around guns."

Under questioning by DeCarolis, Crooks admitted that despite this mortal threat, he didn't call police.

When Finnell asked him about why he didn't call police, Crooks said he dialed 9-1-1 and had his finger on the button, but then changed his mind.

"I was exhausted," Crooks said. "I was emotionally drained. I wanted this to be over. I just wanted to go to work and do what I had to do."

In closing arguments, Finnell urged Kunego to take into the account of events provided by Crooks. He didn't fault Daigler for arresting Crooks. Since he didn't have a statement from Crooks, he could only go on the information available to him at the time of the arrest. But now, he said, Kunego has just as Medies had, Crooks' version of events. He said the case should proceed based on Crooks' account.

DeCarolis dismissed the testimony of Crooks as vindictive and self-serving.

Daigler, he said, did something very unusual -- he testified for the defense rather than the prosecution. That never happens and that should carry a lot of weight with court, he said. Daigler's testimony should weigh heavily in favor of Robinson because he has nothing to gain from his testimony.

The testimony of Crooks is another matter, however.

"His action, his tone, his disposition all show he has a very significant animus against Mr. Robinson," DeCarolis said. "It's very clear he was cop shopping. I would ask, your honor, that you evaluate his testimony in that light."

Kunego set a follow-up appearance for Nov. 19, but said he will likely issue a written decision on the motion to dismiss "in the interest of justice" before that date.

The Batavian's exclusive previous coverage:

September 23, 2014 - 10:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in railroads, bergen.

Crews are repairing the rail beds at Dublin Road, Jerico Road, Beaver Meadow Road in Bergen. The crossing have been closed this week. A supervisor on Dublin Road said today that he was trying to finish up that crossing ASAP and he expected to have all of the crossings opened by Friday.

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