Online News. Community Views.

>> Download <<
The Batavian Mobile
Droid | iPhone

Recent comments

Site Sponsors

bergen

January 20, 2015 - 12:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, alexander, Le Roy, Pavilion, Bethany, bergen.

Several Genesee County fire departments are helping fight a fully involved house fire on Kingsley Road in the Town of Middlebury, which is in Wyoming County. The house is at 566 Kingsley Road.

Bethany, Pavilion and Le Roy are called to the scene, along with a tanker from Alexander. An engine from Alexander is requested to fill in at Bethany's hall. York is asked to fill in at Pavilion. Bergen is asked to stand by in its quarters. Bethany is requested to send an ambulance to the scene.

UPDATE: For coverage from the Wyoming County Free Press, click here.

January 12, 2015 - 9:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, bergen.

Jason Gerard Heineman, 42, of Batavia Oakfield Townline Road, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, failure to keep right, driving left of pavement markings and refusal to take breath test. Heineman was stopped at 12:59 a.m. Saturday on Phelps Road, Pembroke, by Deputy Andrew Hale.

Edward William Zastrow, 33, of Town Line Road, Bergen, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, moving from lane unsafely. Zastrow was arrested by Sgt. Eric Seppala after his vehicle reportedly went off the roadway on Buffalo Street, Bergen, at 1:14 a.m. Sunday.

Devon James Schulman, 19, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Schulman is accused of stealing merchandise from Walmart.

Curtis L. Williams, 34, of Central Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, charge. Williams turned himself in on the warrant.

Gregory Marcus Munroe II, 26, of Harvester Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a disorderly conduct charge. Munroe turned himself in on the warrant.

Kim M. Sobczak, 52, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny, controlled substance not in original container and criminal possession of a controlled substance. Sobczak was arrested at Kmart at 12:30 p.m. Friday by State Police. No further details released. UPDATE: NYSP has released additional information on this case. According to police, Sobczak was caught leaving Kmart with a shopping cart full of assorted items with a value of more than $300. She was allegedly found during her arrest with a pill bottle containing acetaminophen/oxycodone and acetaminophen/hydrocodone pill tablets.

Ethan T. Ellis, 30, of Brockport, Mark J. Friga, 29, David A. Morre, 26, Victor F. Martinez, 26, all of  Rochester, were charged with trespass. The four men were allegedly found by State Police riding ATVs on private property off Circular Hill Road, Le Roy, last week. The property is owned by Hanson Aggregates.

January 10, 2015 - 11:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, bergen.

A car has hit a tree in the area of 7022 Clinton Street Road, Bergen.

The driver is reportedly trapped and complaining of leg pain.

Bergen Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 11:06 p.m.: The initial caller has called back. The driver is no longer trapped in the vehicle. He is now in the caller's car, still complaining of leg pain.

January 10, 2015 - 11:20am
posted by Billie Owens in Le Roy, accidents, bergen.

A motor-vehicle accident is reported, with unknown injuries, on the westbound I-490 near mile marker 2. Bergen fire is responding along with Le Roy fire and ambulance.

January 7, 2015 - 8:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, bergen.

A car versus tree accident is reported in the area of 7893 Town Line Road, just west of Buffalo Street, Bergen. The driver is trapped inside and possibly has a head injury. Bergen fire and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE: Photo submitted by Anne Sapienza.

January 1, 2015 - 3:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, bergen.

One person is trapped in a car following a one-vehicle rollover accident in the area of 7394 Townline Road, Bergen.

Unknown injuries.

Bergen fire and Byron ambulance responding.

UPDATE 3:45 p.m.: Byron is transporting one to the hospital and Bergen fire is back in service.

 

January 1, 2015 - 12:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, bergen.

A motor-vehicle accident with a minor head injury is reported on North Lake Street and Bissell Road, Bergen.

Bergen fire and ambulance dispatched.

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.

November 6, 2014 - 7:30am
posted by Billie Owens in byron, Milestones, bergen.

Press release:

The Bergen Swamp Preservation Society (BSPS) awarded two "Partner-in-Preservation" Awards at the Society's annual meeting held Oct. 26, 2014 in Caledonia. The "Partner-in-Preservation" award is given to an individual or organization for partnering with the Bergen Swamp Preservation Society to preserve and protect the native flora and fauna of New York State.

The corporate award was received by Peggy Swapceinski, executive director of the Gillam-Grant Community Center (GGCC), Bergen. The GGCC was recognized for its support of our Bergen Swamp property in Byron and Bergen. The GGCC hosted the meeting place to begin and end the Bergen Swamp Spring Pilgrimage tour of orchids. For more than 20 years the GGCC served as custodian of BSPS document archives. Recently, the GGCC hosted a community "meet and greet" produced by the Seneca Park Zoo and the BSPS. A live Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake and a live spotted turtle was displayed to a crowd of more than 100 local community members. These two indigenous reptile species are listed as endangered by New York State and can still be found in the Bergen Swamp. The Gillam-Grant Community Center was nominated for this award by Society Trustee John Adamski, of Brighton.

The individual award was received by Joseph Whitcomb, a long serving trustee. Whitcomb resides in Newark and was awarded for his long service on behalf of the Zurich Bog property in Arcadia and to the Society. He served the BSPS for more than 40 years as a Society trustee, president, Zurich Bog Property chairperson and as a personal inspiration to the current trustees. Whitcomb laid the first black locust boardwalk trail into Zurich Bog. This trail enables visitor access to the orchids and carnivorous plants found in this National Natural Landmark. Whitcomb oversaw the acquisition of four additional parcels of land to the BSPS Zurich Bog property. The most recent was an 18-acre parcel that he personally purchased and gifted to the BSPS for preservation and protection of the native wetland plants. Whitcomb was nominated for this award by Society trustee Lee Drake Sr., of Bloomfield.

The Bergen Swamp Preservation Society is the first and oldest private ecological preservation land trust in the United States. The Society was chartered in 1936 by the New York State Department of Education as a "Living Museum." Since its charter, the Society has been operated by volunteers. The Society has a membership of 400 persons and corporations. The Society owns and manages five separate properties in Upstate New York. Two of the Society's properties are recognized by Federal Department of Interior as National Natural Landmarks: the Bergen Swamp (Bergen and Byron, NY) and the Zurich Bog (Arcadia, NY). The Society is renowned for the 38 species of native orchids, three species of native carnivorous plants and many other rare wetland plants that are protected on the Society's properties.

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.

Pages

Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
31
 
 

Copyright © 2008-2014 The Batavian. Some Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license.
Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

blue button