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January 26, 2011 - 6:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, State Street.

mug_hewitt.jpgA Batavia resident was arrested on a drug-trafficking warrant following a traffic stop on Washington Avenue on Tuesday by members of the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force.

He is accused of selling cocaine in and around the City of Batavia.

Charged with four felonies in a sealed indictment is Jeffery A. Hewitt, 32, of State Street.

He is accused of selling drugs to an agent of the task force.

Hewitt is charged with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd.

Hewitt was jailed without bail pending arraignment in Genesee County Court.

January 26, 2011 - 5:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

Updated 9:19 p.m.

A Le Roy resident who appears to have headed a Genesee County-based methamphetamine ring entered a guilty plea in federal court today to a drug dealing charge.

The charge -- conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 500 grams or more of methamphetamine -- carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $4 million fine.

Donald G. Vanelli II, 47, of 8394 Lake St., Le Roy, was arrested in July following a months-long investigation by local, state and federal authorities into meth sales and distribution in Genesee and Monroe counties. Three other Genesee County residents along with a Monroe County resident were also arrested and accused of dealing meth.

The investigation revealed, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, that Vanelli was responsible for procuring from suppliers and distributing between 5 and 15 kilograms of methamphetamine from 2004 through July 2010.

A kilo equals 2.2 pounds. The estimated street value of a pound of meth is between $15,000 and $25,000.

The contents of  an affidavit released by authorities after his arrest gives the appearance that Vanelli was the kingpin of the meth distribution ring, with other alleged dealers coming to him for their supplies, and Vanelli working with a Monroe County source to allegedly acquire meth from unnamed sources.

During the investigation, law enforcement authorities seized approximately 75 grams of methamphetamine, three firearms, and more than $6,000 in cash.

As part of the plea agreement, the defendant agreed to forfeit to the government a 9mm rifle, a 9mm magazine and 78 rounds of 9mm ammunition that were seized from his Le Roy residence.

Sentencing is set for 3:15 p.m., May 10, in Rochester Federal Court.

The charges against the four other defendants in case are still pending.

Vanelli's co-defendants are Donna L. Boon (aka Donna Mcauly), 44, of 3658 Batavia-Oakfield Townline Road; Andrew W. Chapman, 40, of 5 Cedar St., Batavia; Kerry A. Ball, 51, of 7202 Meadville Road, Basom; and, David H. Cohen, 49, of 918 Goodman St., Rochester.

January 26, 2011 - 1:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Justin Amend, who admitted to public lewdness for engaging in a sexual act in Farrall Park with Suzanne Corona, appeared in City Court this morning.

The 29-year-old former Oakfield resident had been a fugitive from justice after he failed to appear for sentencing in November. He turned himself in this week.

Upon appearing before Judge Robert Balbick this morning, Amend's attorney, Tom Williams, requested permission to apply to the Sheriff's Office for a weekend work-release program. 

Spots are limited in the program and there is no guarantee Amend will be accepted.

Balbick also said given Amend's decision to move out of the area, any prior sentencing agreement no longer applies.

"At this point he stands before me having entered a guilty plea to public lewdness, a Class B misdemeanor," Balbick told Williams. "I have complete authority to sentence him within full perimeters of the law."

Amend could face up to 90 days in jail.

Sentencing is scheduled for next Wednesday.

January 26, 2011 - 1:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Thurway.


There were no injuries following a two-car accident on the Thruway in Pembroke this morning, near mile marker 403 in the westbound lane.

One car caught on fire following the accident, according to State Police.

One westbound lane was blocked for about an hour.

Photo submitted by reader Kevin Switzer.

January 26, 2011 - 10:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, elba, Le Roy, Bethany, corfu.

Ajuna Mona Pruitt, 19, of Dawnhaven Drive, Rochester, is charged with reckless endangerment and criminal trespass, 2nd. Pruitt is accused of entering a room at College Village without permission and then, while in the parking lot, striking another woman with her car. The alleged incident occurred at 6:30 p.m., Monday.

Ajuna M. Pruitt, 19, of Dawnhaven Drive, Rochester, along with Ebony S. Barnes, 18, of Chaplain Street, Rochester and Shibritney M. Colbert, 19, of Shelter Street, Rochester, are charged with harassment, 2nd. The trio are accused of going to an apartment at College Village at 10:39 p.m., Tuesday, and banging and kicking on a door in an attempt to get the resident to come out and fight.

Danielle Marie Kotmel, 30, of East Main Street, Corfu, is charged with petit larceny. Kotmel is accused of stealing a red Dell laptop computer. The alleged theft is believed to have occurred in December but was not discovered until an audit was completed in January.

Robert G. Woodhouse Jr., 50, of Creek Road, Bethany, is charged with criminal trespass, 2nd, and criminal mischief, 4th. Woodhouse is accused of entering a residence and remaining unlawfully. He's also accused of damaging a door.

Richard John Downs, 48, of Oak Orchard Road, Elba, was arrested on a probation warrant out of Town of Elba Court.

Steven Michael Keaton, 38, of Gilbert Street, Le Roy, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Keaton is accused of contacting a woman whom he was ordered not to contact.

January 25, 2011 - 8:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC.

In response to a reader request, we asked for information on whether GCEDC staff members are eligible to participate in the NYS state retirement system.

Here is the full text of GCEDC's response:

Request: Can I get a list of GCEDC employees who participate in the NYS retirement system and what GCEDC’s annual contribution to the pension program is, please?

Response: Membership in the New York State Retirement System is mandatory for all full-time employees of Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC). Currently there are six employees who are enrolled in the New York State Retirement System including the President and CEO, Sr. VP of Operations, the CFO, VP of Business Development, the Marketing and Communications Manager, and the Office Manager. Contributions to the New York State Retirement System are set by the state. In 2010, the GCEDC received an invoice to pay $41,663.

January 25, 2011 - 11:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Budget.

Councilman Bill Cox called the proposed 2011/12 city budget a work of art.

Council members Patti Pacino, Kathy Briggs and Frank Ferrando all congratulated the city manager and his staff for presenting a budget proposal that retains current city services and protects cash reserves at a time when pension costs are skyrocketing and sales-tax revenue is down.

The council then approved a resolution adopting a revenue plan totalling $5,578,355 with a 1.39-percent property-tax increase, down from the original proposal of a 1.59-percent increase.

The new increase is less than $12 per year for a home assessed at $80,000.

"I'm afraid if we reduced (the tax increase) it would come at the expense of our reserves," said Cox. "I think we need to continue to build our reserves and this is just a modest increase."

Councilman Bob Bialkowski also spoke in favor of protecting reserves, especially in a time when major cities and the state of New York itself are facing severe financial distress.

Members Rosemary Christian and Sam Barone said they would like to see a zero-percent increase, but Council President Marianne Clattenburg said that anybody who wants to see zero should suggest how they would reduce spending without threatening the reserves or eliminating staff or services.

"If we go to zero, what we're talking about are staff cuts and cuts in services," Clattenburg said. "We're talking about the possibility of getting rid of a police officer -- I mean, we're talking about cutting into the bones of what the infrastructure of the city is."

The proposed budget also calls for water-rate hikes that will add about $13 a year to the typical residential bill.

Before the vote on the revenue resolution, Cox called on the council to give City Manager Jason Molino a round of applause for his work on the budget, and all the council members joined in.

The city council set the public hearing on the proposed budget  for 7 p.m., Feb. 14.

January 25, 2011 - 10:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

In an emergency resolution, the city council voted Monday night to transfer $55,000 from its contingency fund to deal with two unexpected expenses.

City Manager Jason Molino said that for the entire winter last season, the city had only 61 days where the roads needed salt. So far this year, the city has seen 61 salt days. That has depleted the salt supply and Molino recommended the council transfer $30,000 into the snow-removal fund to buy 750 tons of salt.

Also, the roof on the city's fire hall needs repaired. And it needs to be done before all the snow melts and causes bigger problems.

It will cost the city at least $22,000 to put a protective membrane over the roof. The council transferred $25,000 to the fire department. The extra $3,000 will cover any unexpected cost overruns and replacement of some ceiling tiles inside the building.

Currently, city staff is making regular trips to the roof for snow removal in order to minimize any potential damage to the building.

The replacement membrane should last 20 years.

There was about $200,000 in the contingency fund.

January 24, 2011 - 9:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, John Parrinello.


Legal charges against a Monroe County attorney and school board trustee accused of causing a ruckus at a basketball tournament in Batavia were reduced by the District Attorney's Office today.

John Parrinello, an appointed member of  Monroe County Community College Board of Trustees, now faces charges of trespass as a violation and two violations of disorderly conduct.

The charges stem for an Dec. 12 incident at Genesee Community College when Parrinello allegedly hassled a referee during a college women's basketball game and then refused to leave the gym when ordered by security. He was arrested after a State Trooper arrived and Parrinello allegedly failed to follow his instructions about which exit to use as he left the gym.

The original misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass, 3rd, were dropped, but not without Parrinello making a stink about the change.

"I want to know what's happening with the criminal trespass, 3rd, charge?" Parrinello asked while standing before Justice Michael Cleveland. "That's why I was handcuffed, cutting my wrists, put in a patrol car, had my mugshot (taken) and published in all the newspapers."

Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini kept trying to explain that the charges were being amended and Perrinello repeatedly interrupted her.

Cianfrini asked for a short recess to make a phone call and Perrinello complained that he had been waiting for the case to be called for two hours and didn't want to wait any longer.

Cleveland allowed Cianfrini to make her call and she returned and explained that she would submit the new charges and ask Cleveland to drop criminal trespass charge.

Perrinello's attorney, Batavia-based Lisa Kroemer, asked that the charges be dropped without prejudice and Cianfrini objected.

Kroemer said that in order to prepare for trial and make proper motions, she and her client needed to know that the misdemeanor charge wouldn't be refiled.

Cleveland said he would drop the charge without prejudice, which means the charge can be refiled.

The reason the lesser charges were filed, Cianfrini said, is that after a review of statements, evidence and interviewing witnesses, the reduced charges were more appropriate.

Kroemer refused to answer questions after the hearing, but Parrinello spoke briefly with reporters before getting in his Cadillac and driving away.

"They knew, or should have known, that what they arrested me for was not a proper charge,” Parrinello said, adding, "I'm presumed to be innocent. They have to prove me guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which they'll never do."

January 24, 2011 - 7:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, crime, Le Roy, Chris Charvella, Jay Grasso.

The case of Chris Charvella, accused of placing an unwanted phone call to Legislator Jay Grasso, is moving back to Genesee County Court with a request that Judge Robert C. Noonan reassign the case again.

Previously, the case was moved from Le Roy Town Court to Town of Batavia because both judges in Le Roy had conflicts of interest.

Charvella's attorney, E. Robert Fussell, told Town of Batavia Justice Michael Cleveland that he and the District Attorney's Office agreed the case should be heard by a judge who is an attorney.

Cleveland is not an attorney.

Justice Tom Williams in Town of Batavia Court is an attorney.

Cleveland said that when the case was moved to Batavia, he and Williams discussed the case and decided that Cleveland would hear the case. Cleveland did not explain why they reached that decision.

Fussell will submit an application to Noonan to have the case reassigned to another town court, such as Stafford, where an attorney sits on the bench. Yet Stafford does not have two judges with a legal degree. The case could still wind up before a non-attorney judge.

The case needs to be heard by a judge who is an attorney, Fussell said, because of the Constitutional issues involved in the case.

Charvella is charged with harassment, 2nd, under the provision of the law that prohibits phone calls for no legitimate purpose.

After some back-and-forth between Charvella and Grasso prior to the last election -- in which Charvella reportedly wrote that he would shove some campaign signs up some people's rear ends -- Charvella called Grasso's house and said, "Thanks for reading my blog."

Grasso, who represents Le Roy, contacted State Police and had Charvella arrested on the harassment, 2nd, charge.

For previous coverage, click here.

January 24, 2011 - 6:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Mike Ranzenhofer.

Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer is once again supporting legislation that would prohibit staff members of public authorities -- such as the Power Authority and the Genesee Economic Development Center -- from receiving bonus payments as part of their compensation.

Ranzenhofer said he plans to support legislation introduced again this session by Sen. George D. Maziarz that would ban the sort of bonus payments that recently came under scrutiny by the Authorities Budget Office.

"In the private sector, such bonuses may be appropriate," Ranzenhofer said, "but in the public sector it is not appropriate. The more appropriate way to do things is if someone is doing a good job, then you want to adjust their salary. If they're doing a poor job, then you adjust their salary."

GCEDC's board, according to the ABO report, has paid out more than $344,000 in bonuses to employees since 2004.

Jim Vincent, vice chairman of the GCEDC board of directors, insisted after the report came out that the board "has done nothing wrong." He said employee compensation has been based on performance and within legal guidelines.

Ranzenhofer said he has no issue with the job GCEDC has done and believes the agency has created jobs and done a good job representing Genesee County, he just thinks staff members shouldn't receive bonuses.

Also, at a reader request, we confirmed today that GCEDC staff are eligible to participation in the New York State retirement system. We have a request into GCEDC for details on contributions for employees but have no response yet.

County Manager Jay Gsell said employee payments for the pension fund come from GCEDC independent revenues and not from the county contribution to GCEDC. He said the county's contribution covers 42 percent of base wages for agency personnel.


January 24, 2011 - 1:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Grand Jury.

Ronald A. Smith is indicted on charges of failure to register change of address and three counts of sexual abuse, 1st. Smith is a convicted sex offender and registered at an address on Thorpe Street and on or about Oct. 31 allegedly failed to registered a change of address. Count two of the indictment accuses Smith of holding a victim less than 11 years old in his arms and subjecting the victim to sexual contact at the Thorpe Street address some time between Oct. 28 and Jan. 7. Counts three and four are similar. (Previous Report)

Jacob C. Gerevics is indicted on a charge of criminal possession of marijuana. On Oct. 19, at 446 Broadway Road, #5, Darien, Gerevics was allegedly found in possession of more than 16 ounces of "one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing marijuana."

William A. Andrews is indicted on a charge of criminal contempt, 1st. On Dec. 9, in violation of an order of protection, Andrews is accused of stating to a protected party "I'll make you a bloody mess!" and "I'll stab you and burn you all!"

January 24, 2011 - 12:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, pembroke, Le Roy.

Damion Michael Frye, 35, of 3662 Route 19 South, Warsaw, is charged with resisting arrest, escape and trespass. Fry is accused of refusing to leave The Eagle Hotel after being asked to do so by security. Le Roy Police responded and officers Robert Tygart and Emily Clark reportedly approached Frye and he was reportedly given several opportunities to leave. When he allegedly refused, he was placed under arrest. Frye allegedly refused to cooperate with the officers and struggled when they tried to place him into custody. Deputies from the Sheriff's Office responded to assist. Frye was Tasered by Deputy Frank Bordonaro. There was then a short foot pursuit before Frye was taken into custody. Frye was jailed on $5,000 bail.

Kenyada R. Peterkin, 29, of 323 Saxton St., Rochester, is charged with menacing, 3rd, criminal mischief, 4th, and endangering the welfare of a child. Peterkin is accused of going to the residence of a woman whom he knows at 5:30 p.m., Friday, and damaging her personal property. He also allegedly threatened the woman there with heated cooking oil. A child present at the time.

Robert L. Williams Jr., 20, of 337 Ellicott St., Batavia, is charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Williams was allegedly involved in a disturbance in the parking lot of Days Inn, 200 Oak St., Batavia. He was reportedly advised to leave and refused, shouting obscenities. When Officers Darryl Streeter and Eric Bolles attempted to arrest Williams, he allegedly struggled with officers.

Cody Lee Niccloy, 19, of Summit Street, Le Roy, is chargd with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, moving from lane unsafely and speed not reasonable for conditions. Niccloy was involved in a property damage accident at 2:47 a.m., Friday, at 7982 Byron Road, Stafford. Upon investigation by Deputy Eric Seppala, Niccloy was allegedly found to be intoxicated.

A 17-year-old resident of Route 237, Byron is charged with petit larceny. She is accused of stealing an iPod Touch from the locker room at Le Roy High School.

Chantel M. Garrett, 18, of Batavia-Stafford Townline Road, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Garrett is accused of punching another student in the face while in a dorm room at College Village.

Kevin John Milbrand, 46, of South Lake Road, Pembroke, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Milbrand was allegedly involved in a fight with another Pembroke resident.

Jeannie M. Mobley, 35, of 10 Hall St., Batavia, is charged with DWAI, aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, and unsafe backing. Mobley is accused of backing into another at car at 5:48 p.m., Sunday, near the Clinton Street entrance of Eastown Plaza.

January 24, 2011 - 9:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in safety, weather.

While the current temperature in Batavia is hovering around zero, it is expected to warm to a balmy 20 degrees later today.

Meanwhile, City Fire Chief Jim Maxwell sent along these cold weather safety tips.

With the temperatures dipping to lows not seen for the past several years, a few simple reminders on cold weather safety may be in order:

Cold weather can be hazardous, so take steps to dress properly if you are venturing outside. The American Red Cross issued these reminders:

  • Limit your time outside, dress in layers, wear gloves or mittens, and wear a hat that covers your ears. Wear waterproof boots and keep your clothes dry.
  • Do not leave pets outside for extended periods.
  • Check on vulnerable neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and others who may require special assistance.
  • If using a space heater, don't overload electrical outlets and keep the heater at least 3 feet from materials such as curtains, furniture and bedding. Never leave space heaters unattended.
  • Never leave a fire burning unattended in a fireplace. Be sure the chimney is regularly cleaned and inspected.
  • If your furnace vents through walls rather than the chimney, make sure the air intake and exhaust are not blocked by snow. Blocked vents can cause carbon monoxide to build up inside the home.
  • Check on pipes that may be prone to freezing. If sink pipes run through enclosed cabinets, try opening the cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around pipes. A slow trickle of water in pipes helps reduce the risk of freezing. Consider wrapping pipes that are exposed to the cold.
  • Keep your car's gas tank full, which will help prevent the fuel line from freezing.

The following is an Extreme Cold Safety pamphlet from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Car Safety Tips:

Be sure to have, at a minimum, one functioning Smoke Alarm and one Carbon Monoxide Detector.

You Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure:

  • Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 9-1-1.
  • Do seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed or nauseous.
  • Don't use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, garage or near a window.
  • Don't run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
  • Don't burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn't vented.
  • Don't heat your house with a gas oven.
January 24, 2011 - 8:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander.

Weather may be the cause of a power outage along Dodgeson Road, Alexander, that has left 67 National Grid customers without power.

Main power lines that span as much as a five-pole distance came down, probably related to the cold weather.

The poles remain standing.

National Grid estimates that power will be restored by 10:15 a.m.

UPDATE 11:44: Power is still out. National Grid reports it is "assessing the situation." No ETA on repairs.

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January 23, 2011 - 9:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.


This is the temperature reading from my truck when I returned home from the office at 8:45 p.m.

This is the first time in the four years that I've owned the truck that I've seen a negative reading.

Tomorrow, the anticipated high is 20 with a 60 percent chance of snow in the afternoon and 80 percent chance at night.

January 23, 2011 - 9:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, thruway.

A caller has reported seeing smoke coming from the roof of Le Roy Central School, 2 Trigon Park.

Le Roy Fire and Bergen Fire responding.

UPDATE 9:26 p.m.: Bergen requested to standby in quarters. Chief on scene says "nothing showing."

UPDATE 9:28 p.m.: Bergen standing down. Le Roy being held to tanker and ladder truck responding.

UPDATE 9:31: Le Roy back in service. "Normal operation from exhaust system."




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