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July 1, 2011 - 12:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Darien.

Five children where injured in a two-car accident on Thursday afternoon when a 17-year-old driver in Darien allegedly failed to yield the right-of-way.

All five children, ages 9 to 13, were transported by ground ambulance to Erie County Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

The 17-year-old driver, Dean G. Cullinan, of Prospect Street, Corfu, also suffered a minor injury and was transported to UMMC.

Cullinan was reportedly southbound on County Line Road when he went through a stop sign at Sumner Road.

Kelly Susan Ford, 45, of Fairfield Drive, Clarence, was driving a 2011 Honda SUV eastbound on Sumner with the five children in the vehicle.

Ford told Deputy Ron Meides that Cullinan's 1995 Plymouth minivan seemed to suddenly appear in front of her at the intersection. She couldn't tell, she said, if the minivan had stopped before entering the intersection.

Cullinan told Meides that he had stopped and decided to proceed once he thought the roadway was clear of cross traffic. He said he didn't see Ford's SUV.

The children injured were Kristen H. Olivieri, 9, Clarissa Surianello, 13, Mara K. Giambrone, 13, Emily E. Ford, 13, and Katherine L. Ford, 11.

Meides issued citations to Cullinan for allegedly failing to stop at a stop sign and failure to yield the right-of-way.

(initial report)

June 30, 2011 - 11:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Settlers Restaurant, Billy Goats.

Before going out for a early evening drive, I stopped by Billy Goats where a birthday party for Steve Spyropoulos was just getting started.

Steve, who turned 60 today, and his son, John, own Settler's Restaurant and Billy Goats.

Steve was proudly serving up BBQ chicken and ribs and I got there just in time for a couple of slices of gyros -- the best gyros you've ever had. And if you've never had gyros, I suggest stopping into Settlers and asking for it. It's not always available and never on the menu, but according to John there will be some gyros specials coming up soon.

Even though it was Steve's birthday, he said the extra food spread was his way of thanking customers for their support.

June 30, 2011 - 11:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A 28-year-old Batavia man who has set up computers and printers to help him print forge U.S. Currency will spend from three to six years in state prison.

Lendle R. Tucker was arrested in January and caught by members of the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force with equipment he used to forge money and $940 in fake money.

Tucker, initially charged with 42 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, entered a guilty plea in April to possession of a forged instrument, 2nd.

The admitted counterfeiter has been in this type of trouble before. He was convicted of a misdemeanor in Batavia previously and has convictions in Erie County and other states. Tucker has spent the past year in an Erie County jail.

Public Defender Jerry Ader sought leniency in Tucker's sentence, but District Attorney Lawrence Friedman argued that Tucker should receive the maximum sentence available under the plea deal.

Judge Robert Noonan took a dim view of Tucker's criminal record.

"You certainly have a terrible criminal record," Noonan said. "I think you should be counting your lucky stars for getting any plea reduction at all."

Tucker's wife doubled over in tears as the felon was escorted from the courtroom. 

This post based on the reporting of The Batavian's news partner, WBTA.

June 30, 2011 - 10:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

The photo was blurry and pixelated, but posting it on The Batavian was apparently sufficient enough to help identify the subject in the picture.

Officer James DeFreze thanks The Batavian readers for their assistance and wanted everybody to know the case was cleared, though no criminal charges were filed nor anticipated.

June 30, 2011 - 2:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, city council, election, Dan Jones.

Dan Jones, a regular contributor to The Batavian, announced Wednesday he will mount a primary challenge against a council candidate already endorsed by city Democrats.

While accusing unnamed Democrats, who are apparently opposed to his candidacy, of already fighting dirty, Jones promised an issue-oriented campaign.

"I believe in order for the city to move forward, council must support policies that are progressive, fiscally restrained and totally transparent," Jones said.

While Jones is endorsed by the Conservative Party, he is taking on Kathryn Balbick Bellamy, endorsed by the Democrats, in a Third Ward primary.

Jones was joined in front of Batavia City Hall on Wednesday by Assemblyman Mark J.F. Schroeder and Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian.

"Dan Jones loves this business," said Schroeder, whom Jones worked for as an intern in Albany. "He loves the business of governance. He loves to help constituents. He loves politics."

A recent graduate of Canisius College, where he majored in political science, Jones was born and raised in Batavia and professes a love for the community and concern about its future.

Besides joining in the conversation on The Batavian -- something he promises to continue doing, even after elected -- Jones has been seen at many city council meetings over the past three years and has spoken out on issues from the ambulance service to consolidation.

Jones, 23, says he is self-employed.

Christian, also a Democrat, said she is supporting Jones because he is involved and outspoken.

"He's not afraid to speak out," Christian said. "Even some of my colleagues are fence sitters who won't take a stand unless somebody tells them where to go. That's not me and that's not this young man."

Jones said he is seeking office with high ideals and an ambition to do what he believes is best for Batavia.

"I seek this office not so it becomes another notch on my resume," Jones said, "I seek this office not because I believe I have a popular last name or because I feel I am entitled to it. I seek this office not for revenge. I seek this office because I believe that Batavia needs to be a leader in our region, and indeed the entire state, in having good government that's responsive to the needs of all of its citizens."

Below, video of the event produced by The Batavian's news partner, WBTA:

June 30, 2011 - 1:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy, Wyoming County.

A Le Roy resident was killed in a motor vehicle accident Wednesday on Wethersfield Road, Town of Wethersfield, Wyoming County.

According to the Wyoming County Sheriff's Office, Phillip B. Ellinwood, was heading east on Wethersfield Road when he attempted to pass another eastbound car. Ellinwood's car went off the north shoulder of the road and struck a tree.

Ellinwood was pinned in the vehicle. He was extricated by members of the North Java Fire and Rescue Department.

He was then transported to Wyoming Community Hospital.

The press release reads, "Despite life saving efforts by emergency room personnel Ellinwood died from his injuries."

The accident was invested by the Wyoming County Crash Management Team.

No further details were released.

June 30, 2011 - 7:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba.

Mercy Flight is being dispatched to 4199 Maltby Road, Elba, for a medical call.

The initial call was to a residence on Mechanic Street.

Elba Fire Department is requesting additional manpower to set up the landing zone at Torrey Farms.


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June 29, 2011 - 3:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Le Roy, Chris Charvella, Jay Grasso.

Melissa Cianfrini says, naturally she's disappointed the case was dismissed against Chris Charvella. As assistant DA, she was given the task of prosecuting him on an aggravated harassment, 2nd, charge because Charvella placed a phone call to Legislator Jay Grasso,

"I obviously respect the court and the court's decision, but I respectfully disagree with the reason behind it," Cianfrini said.

Town of Batavia Justice Mike Cleveland wrote in his decision, "Mr. Charvella's call was made to Mr. Grasso on a number not only listed in the public phone book but also listed on the Genesee County Legislature's list of public official contact numbers. It was not an anonymous or random call. It was not 'absent of expression of ideas or thoughts.'

"The factual allegations in this case," Cleveland concluded, "do not constitute a violation of the charge of PL 240.30-2.

The written decision dismissing the case is only two pages long and doesn't directly touch on any of the free speech or First Amendment issues raised by Charvella's defense attorney, E. Robert Fussell.

But Fussell said that just because Cleveland didn't mention the First Amendment doesn't mean that case law based on the First Amendment isn't the foundation of his decision.

Fussell said he believes the case law that led to Cleveland's decision is based on First Amendment protections.

He said prior cases interpret the clause in the law that says for "no legitimate purpose" to mean that a call must be entirely for the purpose of annoying or threatening to constitute harassment.

"Underlying the decision is that you can't charge somebody for just making a phone call," said Fussell. "What the courts are really saying is that the charge must pass First Amendment muster."

Cianfrini said, however, that she still doesn't believe this was a free speech case. It was about a private phone call placed to a private residence.

"This was about somebody saying something in private," Cianfrini said. "It was not something that was said in public, so it's not a free speech issue."

She was not the original ADA on the case, inheriting it after a change of venue from Le Roy to Town of Batavia, so the actual charge against Charvella wasn't a decision she made. During oral arguments, Cianfrini briefly raised the specter of filing a different charge, if necessary, against Charvella. Today, Cianfrini said there are no plans in the DA's officer currently to pursue the case further.

June 29, 2011 - 1:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Stafford.

William E. Gratehouse III, is indicted on charges of criminal mischief, 2nd, reckless endangerment, 2nd, menacing, 2nd, unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child. Gratehouse is accused of intentionally striking a 1998 Dodge Intrepid owned by another person on March 17. Gratehouse allegedly forced the car off the road after striking it. He also allegedly brandished a semiautomatic pistol during the incident and prevented the alleged victim from leaving the area. There allegedly were children in the car at the time.

John R. Sherman is indicted on charges of felony DWI, aggravated driving with a BAC of .18 or greater and driving with a BAC of .08. Sherman is accused of driving drunk Jan. 7 on Route 5 in Stafford.

Kevin C. Heschke is indicated on charges of felony DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Heschke is accused of driving drunk April 7 on Church Street, Le Roy.

Ricky L. Miller is indicted on a charge of burglary, 2nd. Miller is accused of entering a residence on Jackson Street, Batavia, on June 7, with the intent to commit a crime.

Dana D. Hagen is indicted on charges of felony DWI and aggravated driving with a BAC of .18 or greater. Hagan is accused of driving drunk Jan. 12 on Fotch Road, Stafford.

No Bill: The grand jury found insufficient evidence to charge Thomas B. Streamer with assault, 2nd, and assault, 3rd, stemming from an alleged incident in the Town of Le Roy on Jan. 23.

June 29, 2011 - 12:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

The night of Tim McGraw concert at Darien Lake, the Batavia PD set up a sobriety check point on Pearl Street and made five arrests.

All five arrested had attended the concert, according to Chief Randy Baker.

Charged were:

  • Matthew Perry, 18, of Batavia, charged with DWI;
  • Geoffrey Howe, 28, of Auburn, charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater and aggravated unlicensed operation;
  • Matthew Malloy, 22, of Batavia, charged with DWI;
  • Christopher Vandusen, 38, of Kendall, charged with DWI;
  • Thomas Boughner, 28, of Spencerport, charged with DWI and open alcohol beverage container in a motor vehicle.

The traffic detail was supported through the Genesee County Stop DWI program.

Baker said the city PD will use check points and DWI patrols on holidays and throughout the summer to help combat drinking and driving.

June 29, 2011 - 12:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul.

On June 19, newly minted NY-26 Rep. Kathy Hochul attended the Batavia Muckdogs game at Dwyer Stadium. It's the kind of thing that I'd normally cover with a picture, but it was Father's Day and my birthday so I took my Dad to the game. I didn't take my camera. It was time off. Still, it was nice chatting with Kathy and Bill Hochul. Kathy went to the game to get herself mentally ready to play on the Women's Congressional Softball Team in a match against an inside-the-Beltway media team in a charity game. I asked her press aide Fabien Levy to send along a picture from the game.  

June 29, 2011 - 11:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy.

Dennis Dale Holcomb, 44, of West Bergen Road, Le Roy, is charged with assault, 2nd, and criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd. Holcomb is accused of striking another person on the back of the head with a crowbar. Following arraignment in Le Roy Town Court, Holcomb was committed to the Genesee County Jail without bail.

Christopher C. Say, 20, of 41 Maple St., Batavia, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation and endangering the welfare of a child. Say is accused of choking a woman during a domestic dispute in front of her children at 9 p.m., Tuesday.

Donald Joseph Pursel, 42, of Upton Place, Rochester, was arrested on a warrant out of Genesee County Court. Pursel is accused of failing to pay a fine. He was arrested by Rochester PD and turned over to the Sheriff's Office. (NOTE: Pursel appeared in court yesterday and after the ADA and his attorney reached an agreement regarding his release, Judge Robert Noonan signed an order authorizing his release.  What was notable is that Pursel's case goes back to a time when Noonan was the District Attorney, so he had to recuse himself from any further proceedings in Pursel's case. Another judge will need to hear the matter.)

Michael William Hall, 24, of Havenwood Drive, Brockport, is charged with DWI, aggravated driving with a BAC .18 or greater and parked on the roadway. Hall was allegedly found sleeping in his car at 12:59 a.m., Tuesday, by Deputy John Weis while it was parked in the westbound lane of Sackett Road, Town of Bergen.

Cassondra Niccole Majors, 18, of Myrtle Street, Le Roy, is charged with possession of alcohol under age 21. Majors was arrested at 11:47 p.m., Monday, in Burnnell Park on Summit Street, Le Roy.

William Gary Strait, 27, of 2803 Retsof Road, Retsof, is charged with DWI and aggravated driving with a BAC of .18 or greater. Strait was stopped at 2:43 a.m., Sunday, by Officer Fox, Le Roy PD, on Main Street in the Village of Le Roy.

June 29, 2011 - 11:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

The mother of Baby Andrew, killed by Melissa Engelhardt  in November 2009, was arrested Tuesday, accused of stealing baby items from Walmart.

Kristen Anne Cianfrini, 26, of Tracy Avenue, Batavia, was charged with petit larceny.

Cianfrini gave birth to another baby several months after Andrew's death.

Engelhardt was Andrew's stepmother and living in Elimira with Andrew's father when she slipped methanol in a sippy cup and gave it to Andrew and then did nothing as Andrew became ill and eventually succumbed to the poison.

When Engelhardt was convicted of manslaughter rather than murder in a non-jury trial, the community rallied around Cianfrini demanding justice for Baby Andrew. 

Chemung County Judge Peter C. Buckley sentenced Engelhardt, who had a history of substance abuse, to 20 years in prison.


June 28, 2011 - 6:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A former Vine Street resident who once seemed to get his life straightened out but then found himself involved with drugs again was told by Judge Robert Noonan today that he will spend four years in state prison.

William J. Butler, 41, of Batavia, previously entered a guilty plea to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance.

More than half an ounce of crack cocaine was found on Butler when he was arrested by members of the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force on Aug. 26, 2010. Because of the quantity of drugs involved, the implication of the charge is that Butler was dealing drugs.

Butler acknowledged that he blew his second chance after successfully completing parole on a previous conviction.

"In a time of hardship I made a crucial mistake and I'm resentful that I made it," Butler said. "When I saw my daughter, I apologized to her that let her down and I let down the community I live in. It's one of the worst mistakes I've made in my life, especially considering what I learned. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't resent that."

Related: Batavia woman accused of letting drug dealers operate from her home.

June 28, 2011 - 6:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, Elections, politicis, Dan Jones.

Press release:

Batavia, NY: I will announce my intentions tomorrow regarding the open seat in the Third Ward left by the retirement of Sam Barone, who did an outstanding job representing that ward on city council. I will be announcing that I am entering a Democratic primary and that I have been endorsed by the Conservative Party.  The announcement will be tomorrow, June 29th at 6 p.m. outside of Batavia City Hall. I will be joined by Democratic Councilwomen Rose Mary Christian and Kathy Briggs, whom are supporting my campaign. Any and all are invited to attend.

Dan has sent along word that Assemblyman Mark J.F. Schroeder, his former boss and a candidate for comptroller in Erie County, will be joining the press conference.

June 28, 2011 - 6:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, elba.

Sometime within the past three or four days, somebody painted two swastikas on the asphalt in the area of Pekin Road and Batavia Elba Townline Road.

One of them, pictured above, on Pekin Road, was creatively obliterated by the Town of Elba Highway Department, which turned the swastika into meaningless geometrical shapes.

The other swastika is on a county road and highway Superintendent Tim Hens, who wasn't aware of the vandalism when we spoke late this afternoon, said his crews might need to get equally creative.

The Sheriff's Office has taken a report on the incident and Deputy Chris Parker is conducting interviews with residents in the area, but Chief Gordon Dibble said, "at this point, their purpose is known."

Dibble said unless there's a witness, this sort of crime can be difficult to solve.

Anybody with information can contact the Sheriff's Office at 585-343-5000.

June 28, 2011 - 6:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

A Le Roy man, who was himself badly burned in a fire June 13 at 3 Orchard Drive in the Village of Le Roy, was arrested on a charge of arson, 2nd, today.

Paul F. Atkinson, 42, was released from Strong Memorial Hospital and immediately arraigned in Town of Le Roy Court. He was sent to the Genesee County Jail on $50,000 bail.

Atkinson suffered 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns on several parts of his body and has been hospitalized since the fire.

The residence is owned by his father and Atkinson reportedly told police he started the fire following a dispute with his dad.

Several hours before the fire, Atkinson appears to have left a status update on his Facebook page that reads, "everyone can go to hell, tired of this life."

His Facebook profile has apparently since been deleted.

Le Roy Police accuse Atkinson of intentionally setting the fire "while knowing or should have known that two persons were sleeping inside the residence."

Atkinson's sister had to be helped down from a second-floor deck by a Le Roy Police officer and her husband reportedly jumped from a second-floor window, injuring his ankle.

June 28, 2011 - 5:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Chris Charvella, Jay Grasso.

Late this afternoon, Chris Charvella received word from his attorney that Town of Batavia Justice Mike Cleveland has dismissed the aggravated harassment, 2nd, charge he was arrested on in November.

E. Robert Fussell, Charvella's attorney, could not be reached for further information on the dismissal and the town court is closed at this hour, so we can't retrieve a copy of the decision.

Fussell told his client the charges were dropped because of insufficient evidence to support the charge.

"It shows that politicians at any level can't have a person arrested for saying something they don't like, especially, 'thank you,'" Charvella said. 

He added, "I knew since I was arrested on November 11th that I had not committed a crime. I placed my trust in the justice system and I'm glad the system worked."

State Troopers arrested Charvella after Legislator Jay Grasso filed a complaint against Charvella claiming harassment.

Charvella was charged under a provision of the statute that prohibits telephone calls for "no legitimate purpose."

The call Charvella made was to Grasso's home phone, and he left a message that said, "thanks for reading my blog."

The message was in response to somebody leaving a political sign on Charvella's front lawn that made reference to an item Charvella posted on her personal blog. The sign contained the words, "Sharome Glasshole," a reference to one of Charvella's blog posts.

Following the phone call, Charvella posted another item on his blog that showed a picture of an Ewok and read, "prepare your anus."

Assistent District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini argued against Fussell's motion for dismissal on June 10.

Part of Fussell's position was that based on previous case law, the conduct of Charvella didn't rise to the level of aggravated harassment, 2nd, as intended by the statute since there wasn't an ongoing pattern of harassment. He characterized Charvella's speech as protected by the First Amendment.

Today, Charvella called the dismissal a victory for free speech.

Charvella has said previously that he spent $7,000 on his own defense in the case.

Neither Cianfrini nor Grasso were immediately available for comment.




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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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