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Sheriff's Office

June 28, 2012 - 7:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Sheriff's Office.

Eric Olson retires from the Sheriff's Office tomorrow. Rather than The Batavian writing an article as we might otherwise do, he asked that we publish this photo of him with his son and this letter to the community:

Out with the old and in with the new…

My career with the Genesee County Sheriff's Office began in August of 1975. I was hired as a dispatcher. Seven months later I was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff and was assigned to the jail. In August of 1978 I was assigned to the road patrol. In August of 1984, twenty-seven years ago, I was appointed to my current position as the Warrant Officer.

The Warrant Officer position was originally created and funded through the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Service and named S.W.E.E.P. (Special Warrant Enhancement Enforcement Program) The goal of the program was to provide funds and resources to law enforcement agencies throughout New York State to aggressively pursue wanted individuals on outstanding warrants. Although the S.W.E.E.P. funding was terminated in March of 1988, the Sheriff's Office determined that the results merited local funding, and the program has been continued to this day.

Serving as the Warrant Officer for the Genesee County Sheriff's Office has been a most rewarding experience. In time, though, I began considering retirement. My son, however, had thoughts of entering law enforcement. I determined that I would not end my career until he was well into his. Ryan has been a New York State Trooper for 5 years now assigned to Painted Post (Corning). I hope that our shared conversations have been useful to him, that they have given him insights into the field that he would otherwise not have had access to. In this sense, then, my work has been for both my community as well as my son.

My retirement plans, such as they are, consist of only two goals: to remain healthy and spend more time with my family. My wife, Judy, my daughter and son-in-law Melissa and Jason Armbrewster and their son, my grandson, Evan, and my son Ryan and his new bride, Kelley, can expect to see a great deal more of me in the immediate future.

May 27, 2012 - 11:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

In 2011, the Sheriff's Office saw another big jump in calls for service with dispatchers handling 25,923 calls.

That's up from 21,334 in 2010.

Calls for service range from anything from a loose dog to serious motor-vehicle accidents and structure fires.

A total of 54,134 calls were placed through 9-1-1.

On the crime front, investigators dealt with 794 total cases, which resulted in 84 drug arrests (19 cases remain pending) and 30 vice arrests.

Of the investigations, 476 were felony in nature.

A total of 178 arrests were made for DWI. The majority were age 21 to 40, with one arrest under age 18 and 20 people arrested between 18 and 20. Three people 60 to 69 were arrested for DWI and one person over age 70 was arrested.

The hours between midnight and 3 a.m. had the biggest DWI arrest activity, with 81 arrests. Between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., 38 people were arrested.

Saturday topped the days of the week for arrests with 64.

Of the arrestees, 146 were male and 32 were female.

Felony DWI accounted for 21 of the arrests, and 32 people were accused of having a BAC of .18 or greater.

The highest BACs recorded were .31 or higher and two suspects were charged with that level of blood alcohol.

Of the suspects given BAC tests, 28 tested .07 or lower, and 15 of those had no measurable BAC.

In all 178 tests were given and 10 were refused.

The juvenile division handled 178 investigations, including 32 dealing with runaways or missing persons, and 47 investigations for larceny and 24 for criminal mischief. There were 12 burglary investigations, two assaults, and four disorderly conducts.

Court security found quite a few weapons on people trying to enter the court, including two firearms, 604 knives,104 pairs of scissors and 27 razors.

Animal control handled 2,902 incidents, including 58 bite investigations, 454 lost animals and 10 livestock investigations. A total of 77 cats and dogs were euthanized, but 280 dogs were adopted through the shelter and 448 cats found new homes.

Genesee Justice handled 313 offender cases, and offenders performed 7,317 hours of community service. The agency supervised 433 people released from jail. There were 190 people supervised in the DWI program.

There were six fatal accidents handled by the Sheriff's Office in 2011.

Of the 1,178 total accidents reported to the Sheriff's Office, 164 involved injuries and 487 involved animals.

Alcohol was reported involved in 52 of the accidents and 521 accident-related arrests were made.

Deputies wrote traffic tickets for 4,095 suspected violations.

The office took a total of 1,931 criminal activity reports.

A PDF of the complete annual report can be downloaded by clicking here.

May 16, 2012 - 4:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Press release:

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind motorists of the importance of using seat belts and child safety seats. The Sheriff’s Office will participate in the statewide seat belt enforcement mobilization, which will run from May 21st through June 3rd which is designed to further improve highway safety.

This initiative will urge motorists to buckle their safety belts or face receiving a ticket. The message is simple: “Click It or Ticket.” The Buckle Up New York, “Click It or Ticket” enforcement and education initiative sends a clear message that seat belts and child safety seats save lives. New York State has been a leader in passenger safety restraint since enacting the very first seat belt law in the country in 1984 by utilizing efforts that combines public education with increased police enforcement of New York's seat belt law.

Under New York State law, safety restraint use is required for: all front seat occupants regardless of age; all rear seat passengers under 16 years of age; children under age 4 must be restrained in a federally approved child safety seat.

New York's zero-tolerance policy for seat belt violations means that violators will receive a ticket if stopped for not using a safety restraint. The fine for such violations is up to $100 if a motorist is stopped for having a person less than 16 years old unrestrained, plus 3 points on their license.

According to state law, motorists can be stopped in New York by a police officer for not wearing their seat belt; another violation is not necessary to initiate the stop.

Properly secured children will be a priority for the Sheriff’s Office during this enforcement effort.  If there is any question as to the proper installation of your child’s safety seat, call the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office at 585-343-5000 to set up an appointment to have your safety seat and its installation inspected by a certified technician.

Please help us make the highways of Genesee County the safest they can be.

April 27, 2012 - 11:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, Genesee County Jail.

Press release:

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office recently filled two vacant correction officer positions with the hiring of Michael J. Robinson and Michael E. Glow. These two correction officers graduated in a class of 20 from the Erie County Basic Corrections Academy yesterday, April 26, 2012.

The speakers at the graduation were Erie County Undersheriff Mark Wipperman and Erie County Deputy Executive Richard Tobe. Training at the academy included instruction in the care and custody of inmates, inmate supervision, defensive tactics, firearms training, and other topics pertaining to corrections.

Correction Officer Michael J. Robinson is a 2000 high school regents graduate from Oakfield-Alabama Central School and a 2003 graduate from Genesee Community College with an Applied Associate Degree in Criminal Justice. C.O. Robinson was previously employed as a mental health therapy aide for the New York State Office of Mental Health and as a security guard for Batavia Downs. C.O. Robinson enjoys roller and ice hockey and is Booster Chairman of American Legion Post 626 in Alabama, New York. He is a current resident of Elba.

Correction Officer Michael E. Glow is a 1998 graduate from Batavia High School and a 2002 graduate from Hilbert College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. C.O. Glow was previously employed as a collector for Admin Recovery, Creditors Interchange, Evans Law & Everest Receivable as well as being a foster care attendant for Genesee County Social Services. C.O. Glow is affiliated with Hometown Hoops for Hope and is a basketball counselor at YMCA’s Camp Hough and at Hilbert College’s basketball camp. He is a current resident of Batavia.

Sheriff Maha stated, “Correction officers Robinson and Glow are great assets to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office Jail Division. They are both very dedicated, hard-working, and responsible employees. We are pleased to have them as part of our team."

March 30, 2012 - 11:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Press release:

Civil payments for the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office may now be made online with any major credit, debit or pre-paid debit card, or by phone, and in addition to in person at the Sheriff’s Office, 165 Park Road, Batavia, NY.

Individuals may make credit card payments 24 hours a day, 7 days a week online at www.GovPayNow.com, or by phone at 888-604-7888. There is also a link for civil payments on the Sheriff’s Office home page, http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/sheriff/index.html, or Civil Bureau page.

Individuals must enter the Civil Payment Pay Location Code (PLC) #7403, or search by the agency’s name or payment type to access the payment screen.

A 3.5 percent processing fee ($3.50 minimum) will apply if the payment is made online, or in person, and a 5 percent processing fee ($5 minimum) if payment is made by phone.

Civil payments may still be made, in person at the Sheriff’s Office – Civil Bureau, 165 Park Road, Batavia, NY, with cash, check or money order; during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.), or by mail. Please make your check or money order payable to the Genesee County Sheriff.

March 15, 2012 - 8:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, STOP-DWI.

The Sheriff's Office will run a first-of-its-kind experimental DWI checkpoint March 17 somewhere in the county.

The "enhanced" DWI checkpoints feature the common roadblock, but will also include road patrols in the area looking for drivers who are apparently trying to avoid the checkpoint.

The governor's office is funding enhanced checkpoints as an experiment in four counties to combat a growing prevalence of smart phone apps that help alert drivers to checkpoints as well as other means drivers might find out about a checkpoint and then try to avoid it.

On March 17, the Sheriff's Office will operate the checkpoint and Batavia PD, Le Roy PD and State Police will provide additional patrols.

An officer trained in drug recognition will be at the checkpoint to assist in identifying drivers suspected of being impaired by drugs.

Other enhanced DWI checkpoints will be scheduled during the year in the county, in Batavia and in Le Roy.

The overtime cost associated with the enhanced checkpoints is covered by a $21,775 state grant.

March 12, 2012 - 8:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Announcements, Sheriff's Office.

Press release:

 

The New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute will begin its annual Honorary Membership drive in Genesee County within the next ten days according to Sheriff Gary Maha.

The New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute was established in 1979. It is a not-for-profit corporation, tax exempt organization, and contributions to the Institute are tax deductible.

While the Sheriff’s Office is a unit of county government, many of the concerns of Sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies are best addressed on a statewide level. The Sheriffs’ Institute provides centralized training programs and services for all Sheriffs’ Offices, where those programs and services would be unavailable or impractical on a single county basis.

The flagship program of the Sheriffs’ Institute is the Sheriffs’ Summer Camp for economically challenged children. The Sheriffs’ Camp, in its 35th year of operation, is located on Keuka Lake and 840 children from across New York State attend each summer. The Sheriffs’ Institute pays the entire cost of the camp stay and transportation.  Most children attending wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity for vacation travel or a summer camp experience.

The Sheriffs’ Camp program combines summer recreation with activities designed to teach an understanding of, and respect for, our laws and the men and women who enforce them. The strong camper to counselor ratio allows for individual attention with an emphasis on the development of self esteem.

“In these difficult economic times we cannot forget our youth who will not have the opportunity for a summer camp experience or a summer vacation,” Sheriff Gary Maha said. “By becoming an honorary member you are supporting the Sheriffs’ Summer Camp for economically disadvantaged children.”

In addition, the Sheriffs’ Institute operates a scholarship program that provides one scholarship to each of New York State’s Community College’s Criminal Justice Programs. This program is designed to help attract the best and the brightest to the criminal justice vocation.

For more information about the Sheriffs’ Summer Camp and other Sheriffs’ Institute Programs, visit our website, www.sheriffsinstitute.orgor simply google  “Sheriffs’ Institute kids” and it will be your first option.

Financial support for many of the Sheriffs’ Institute programs comes from Honorary Membership dues. Invitations for Honorary Membership are extended on a non-partisan basis, and the invitees are selected at random. Any persons interested in supporting the efforts of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute by becoming an Honorary Member should contact the Sheriff if they do not receive an invitation in the mail, or visit our web site at: www.sheriffsinstitute.orgto download an application.

All donations made to the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute are tax deductible. In addition, Sheriffs’ Institute is registered with the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau.

February 27, 2012 - 5:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Bethany, Sheriff's Office.

The newest deputy the Sheriff's Office is no rookie. He has more than seven years experience in law enforcement, including about a year with the Batavia Police Department.

Matthew C. Fleming joined the force six days ago and said he's been readily accepted by everybody in the department.

"Ever since I decided I wanted to be a cop, I always looked at the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office as the ideal place to end up," Fleming said. "When these opportunities come up, you want to take advantage of the opportunity."

The Fleming family goes back a few generations in Bethany, and as a lifelong county resident, Fleming said he thought it was natural to be out patrolling the county.

"Genesee County was a great place to grow up and I feel like growing up here gave me a great shot at life, just everything the area has to offer," Fleming said. "It means a lot ot patrol the same areas I grew up in and hopefully offer something back."

A 2003 high school regents graduate from Alexander Central School, Fleming studied criminal justice at SUNY Brockport. He completed his basic police training in 2007 and has worked as a public safety officer/dispatcher with the New York Park Police and New York State University Police in Oswego and Buffalo.  He is a certified general topics instructor, firearms instructor and OC spray instructor.

Fleming replaces a deputy who retired Dec. 31.

"Deputy Fleming will be a great asset to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office," Sheriff Gary Maha said. "He possesses all the qualities we look for in our deputies -- integrity, professionalism, dedication and dependability. We are pleased to have him as part of our team."

February 22, 2012 - 1:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake, Sheriff's Office.

A 33-year-old Bergen woman who was charged with second-degree assault following a Rascal Flatts concert at Darien Lake in August has filed a claim against the Genesee County Sheriff's Office alleging false arrest.

Carolyn Marie Smith, of McCabe Court, was accused of hitting a 57-year-old man with her iPhone, causing him to need seven stitches across the bridge of his nose.

But Smith says she was the victim in this case, and when she tried to show her bruises -- including one that left, according to a physician's report she obtained later, a residual mass on her breast -- a Sheriff's sergeant arrested her anyway.

A grand jury returned a "no bill" (meaning, the grand jury didn't find sufficient evidence to sustain the charge) on Smith's case.

Attorneys have told her, Smith acknowledges, that suing law enforcement over an arrest is extremely difficult. They are hard cases to make because arrests can be subjective judgements and it's up to the legal process to determine the validity of the charges.

"I understand they arrest who they choose and let it get sorted out by the law, but to drag somebody who has no record, who has never been arrested, who is the mother of  three kids, and was attacked, I just don't get it," Smith said.

Sheriff Gary Maha said that because of the notice of claim, there is a limit to what he can say about the case, but added, "I would state that this arrest was based upon an assault that occurred at Darien Lake following a concert, and the complaint was filed by another individual. The District Attorney's Office was consulted prior to arrest."

So far Smith hasn't been able to find an attorney to take her case and suspects Genesee County attorneys, who often deal with the Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's Office, are reluctant to sue local law enforcement. She is hoping an attorney in another county will see her story and take an interest in the case.

Among the potential defendants in a lawsuit, according to Smith, is Darien Lake Theme Park, whom she thinks contributed to the events of Aug. 12 through lax security.

She points to the four arrests and 78 underage drinking citations at the Rascal Flatts show, and the numerous arrests at the Brad Paisley show just two weeks prior as evidence that Darien Lake isn't doing enough to protect patrons.

"Darien Lake Town Court is full after every concert and that says there is a problem at Darien Lake," Smith said. "They allow drinking and let people get drunk, but nobody is controlling the crowd."

The Batavian contacted Darien Lake and requested a statement and will provide a response if one is received.

"As far as Darien Lake goes," Smith said, "I don't want money. I want justice."

Smith said she and one of her witnesses were the only people involved in the fracas that night who hadn't been drinking.

The incident started as patrons were trying to exit the parking lot following the concert.

The cars were apparently not moving and a woman in Smith's car got out of the vehicle. She either got out -- depending on which statement you believe -- to have a cigarette or to try and block the progress of another vehicle so the car she was in could get the advantage.

Smith got out of the car next, either -- again depending on whose statement you believe -- to get the other woman to get back in the car or to block traffic.

At that point, a man in the other vehicle yelled at the two women, according to one witness statement. He then got out of the vehicle.

In the man's statement, he "bumped" the woman with his body (presumably Smith) to try and move her along and the woman "took a wing at me with her right hand, in which she held a cell phone."

The initial arrest was based on the alleged victim's statement and statements of people riding with the man.

In documents provided by Smith is a letter from her attorney, Thomas Burns to the arresting officer, Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello, asking him to also take statements from witnesses who were in the vehicle with Smith.

According to those statements, the man rushed from his vehicle, charged Smith, punched her in her chest and pushed her up against a truck, pinning her there. It was at that point that Smith swung at the man with her iPhone in her hand.

A woman in the vehicle then allegedly got out of the truck and yelled profanities at Smith and slapped the other woman with Smith, according to one of the statements.

Both statements say that the vehicle the man was in creeped forward and bumped Smith and the other woman before the man got out of the car.

The 57-year-old man, from North Tonawanda, said in his own statement that he told his brother-in-law, who was driving, to creep forward and try to get the women to move.

Given that admission, Smith said, and what she believes was the obviously inebriated state of the two men and the woman they were with, she doesn't understand why they weren't arrested instead of her.

"I took a beating from them, but none of that mattered," Smith said. "I don't even know how they got away with this."

Smith thinks the turning point was when her cousin called Sgt. Greg Walker "a pig."

"Once she said that, forget it," Smith said. "They wouldn't even talk to me."

Ten days later, when Sanfratello called and asked Smith to come to the Park Road office, she thought she would finally get to tell her side of the story. Instead, she said she was surprised to find out she was the one being arrested.

Fighting the charge cost her $5,000 and she may yet have medical bills from the breast injury. Although she'd at least like some compensation, what she wants just as much is an apology -- not even necessarily a public apology, even though the case made national news.

She just wants the officers involved and the Sheriff's Office to say they're sorry for arresting her and not the people in the other group.

February 14, 2012 - 6:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office is on the verge of obtaining four new police vehicles, three patrol cruisers and an SUV, at a cost of $92,000 $88,605.

The vehicles will replace four aging ones that have all logged from 110,000 to 132,000 miles.

The Public Service Committee approved the planned purchase today.

The three specially constructed Ford sedans and a Chevrolet SUV will be built in Australia and won't be ready for three months. (CLARIFICATION: Only the Chevy is being built in Australia.)

The sedans are being purchased through Delacy Ford in Elma at a cost of $60,655, which includes a trade-in allowance of $23,000.

The trade-in agreement is based on the vehicles' current mileage, even though the vehicles will be in service for at least three more months, adding on more miles.

Delacy apparently didn't have an SUV that met Sheriff's Office specifications, so that vehicle will be purchased for $27,950 from Hoselton Chevrolet.

Local dealerships were invited to bid, but none submitted bids, according to Sheriff Gary Maha.

"I'm happy to see they're at least being purchased in New York," said Legislator Esther Leadly. "It used to be they came from New Jersey."

The purchase price is $3,395 under budget.

January 31, 2012 - 8:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Press release:

Sergeant William C. Scott of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office has been selected by the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute to receive its Court Officer of the Year award. The award was presented to Sergeant Scott during the 78th New York State Sheriffs' Association Winter Training Conference in Albany on Jan. 25. Sergeant Scott was nominated for this award by Genesee County Sheriff Gary T. Maha.

This award is given to an employee assigned to the Sheriff’s Court Security Division whose exceptional career achievements and conscientious devotion to duty have demonstrated a spirit of selfless public service.

Sheriff Maha said “Sergeant Scott has not only demonstrated exceptional career achievements over his tenure with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, but he continues to demonstrate a strong and conscientious devotion to duty as supervisor of the Court Security Detail.” 

Sergeant Scott is a lifelong resident of Genesee County and was hired by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office on May 23, 1977, as a dispatcher.  On March 27, 1979, Sergeant Scott was appointed a Deputy Sheriff and assigned to the Genesee County Jail.

He worked in corrections until June 14, 1983, when he transferred to Deputy Sheriff (road patrol). Sergeant Scott received his basic police training at the Monroe Community College Regional Criminal Justice Training Center. On Nov. 6, 1995, then-Deputy Scott was assigned to Court Security Detail. On Jan. 13, 1996, he was promoted to sergeant and worked road patrol until 1997 when Genesee County built a new, consolidated courts facility and Sergeant Scott was assigned as supervisor of Court Security Detail, a position he still holds today. 

As supervisor of the Court Security Detail, which consists of five deputy sheriffs and himself, Sergeant Scott is responsible for the daily safety and security of all the judges, courts facility building and visitors to the complex. He works very closely with all courts and departments within the courts facility, which includes the District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, County Court, Family Court, Surrogate Court, and City Court.

A total of 66,176 persons were screened in 2010 and 21,471 items were scanned by our Courts Facility Security Detail. A total of 368 items were secured, which included knives, scissors, firearms, razors, mace and drug paraphernalia.

Sergeant Scott has received four Meritorious Service Awards, was named Officer of the Year in 1986, and is the recipient of numerous letters and memorandums of appreciation. He has almost 35 years of service with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office; 14 of which are with the Court Security Detail.

“Sergeant Scott is a great asset to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office and to law enforcement in general. He is most deserving of this award,” Sheriff Maha said.

January 27, 2012 - 1:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Press release:

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office has now made accident reports available online at http://geneseecsony.policereports.us/ or by clicking on the link from the Sheriff’s Office home page http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/sheriff/index.html or from the Sheriff’s Office records page.

Reports can be searched by date of accident, driver or registered owner’s last name, or the accident report number. Downloads are available in pdf or tiff format and cost $10 each. Reports will be uploaded to the site within approximately five business days from the date of the accident. Payment can be made through the secure site with a credit card or by contacting PoliceReports.US at 1-800-489-0190 to see if you qualify for a prepaid account.

This service will save time and make the accident report process more efficient. It is available 24/7 and allows immediate access to the report once it is uploaded. Accident reports can still be acquired by contacting the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office Records Division directly by phone at 585-345-3000, ext. 3560; by fax at 585-345-3089; in person or by mail to Genesee County Sheriff’s Office -- Records Division, 165 Park Road, Batavia, New York 14020; but this is now the preferred method of accident report distribution.

January 19, 2012 - 8:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, genesee county, Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office plan to convert a jailed drug dealer's car into cash hit a road block Wednesday in the Ways and Means Committee.

A resolution authorizing the Sheriff to auction off the 2005 Chevy truck passed the Public Service Committee on Tuesday, but Wednesday, Legislator Ray Cianfrini had new information on the state law governing the disposal of seized assets.

Cianfrini said he wasn't concerned about the Sheriff's Office getting the money, just that proper procedures be in place and that the law is followed.

"I think there needs to be something more speicific and there needs to be more clarification," Cianfrini said. "I don’t have any trouble with the vehicle going to the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement purposes, but what about the dispersal (of the proceeds)?"

County Attorney Charles Zambito provided Cianfrini with a copy of the state law, which outlines procedures and proper dispersal of any revenue generated by the sale of seized assets. The law is complex with multiple variables, and while the Sheriff's Office could wind up with some or all of the revenue generated by the sale of the truck, so could the District Attorney's Office, or the state, or the county.

The vehicle was signed over by Matthew Zon, who entered a guilty plea to criminal possession of a controlled substance, 2nd, and was sentenced to prison for possessing and distributing methamphetamine.

Undersheriff William Sheron said that since the vehicle wasn't seized, but signed over to the Sheriff's Office by the defendant as part of a plea deal, the procedures outlined in the law didn't necessarily apply.

"You’re looking at a state forfeiture process that if (a defendant) were reluctant in turning over a vehicle to us, then we would go through this process to seize the vehicle," Sheron said. "It’s now a common practice, as part of a plea bargain, where (the defendant) signs over title of the vehicle to relieve us from going through this process."

Zambito pointed out that even in the plea agreement, the vehicle is signed over "pursuant" to state law, which means, he believes, the process for disposal of the asset is governed by the law.

"We still have to follow the rules about what you do with the property once you get it," Zambito said.

The resolution on disposition of the vehicle was tabled until the matter can be further researched and clarified.

January 17, 2012 - 9:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, byron, Sheriff's Office.

A 2005 Chevy pickup truck taken by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office as part of the plea deal of a confessed meth dealer will be sold as surplus equipment.

The truck requires at least $2,500 in repairs making it unsuitable for the Sheriff's Office use.

The Public Service Committee today approved a resolution authorizing sale of the truck, but not without some questioning by committee Chairman Ray Cianfrini about why the truck was considered Sheriff's Office property in the first place. He thought it would be county property.

Undersheriff William Sheron explained that under state and federal drug seizure rules, property taken as the fruits of drug dealing must be used for law enforcement purposes. So placing the title of the vehicle under a law enforcement agency's name helps provide proof the vehicle isn't being used for other purposes.

Any proceeds from the sale of the truck will go to the county treasurer, but can only be spent on law enforcement purposes.

Both Le Roy Police and Batavia Police, as members of the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force, share in the proceeds of drug seizures, Sheron said, but typically, the funds are used for equipment or other task force costs.

While the money can't be spent on anything other than a law enforcement purpose, any expenditure must be approved by the Genesee County Legislature.

The truck seizure was part of a plea agreement for Matthew Zon, who entered a guilty plea July 26 to criminal possession of a controlled substance, 2nd. Zon was sentenced to three years in prison and forfeiture of his truck.

While local law enforcement has been involved in a few drug property seizures over the years, the largest may have been in about 1988, Sheron said, when a drug dealer's house in Batavia was taken. The eventual sale of the house netted local law enforcement about $150,000.

Sheron also noted that the forfeiture law has changed a lot over the years.

"They've definitely raised the bar," Sheron said. "It used to be if you found a roach in a car, the car could be taken. That's all changed now. It takes a case of trafficking."

December 29, 2011 - 9:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

When Deputy Brian Skelton shows up for work Friday, it won't be to sit in a courtroom and listen to lawyers haggle over the fine point of some law, or tell one more man to empty his pockets before walking through the security scanner or help some inmate into the courtroom.

Rather, Friday is the day Skelton turns in his gun and badge, signs a few papers and closes out a 32-year career in the Sheriff's Office.

"It was just time to go," Skelton said.

He has no particular plans for retirement, except to spend more time with his family and play a little more golf. He might look for another job, but first, he's just going to take some time off.

Skelton is the first sworn officer in the department to retire since Sgt. Gary Russell in 2007.

Sheriff Gary Maha said there are currently several members of the department eligible to retire, but nobody has made an official announcement.

Maha's staff is currently interviewing candidates for Skelton's position in the courthouse and once he's replaced, that could lead to an opening for the Sheriff's Office to hire a new deputy.

The security staff at the courthouse is paid for the NYS Office of Court Administration.

Skelton has been assigned to court security since 1997, which is when the new courthouse opened.

He began his law enforcement career in 1980 working security for Genesee Community College. He was hired by the Sheriff's Office as a corrections officer at the jail in 1983.

After 18 months of employment at the jail, he was admitted into road patrol school and worked the roads of Genesee County from 1985 to 1997.

One night during those 12 years on the road -- this was about 20 years ago -- Skelton and his partner came across one of the two big murder cases Skelton was involved with during his career.

Skelton and his partner that night, Deputy Eric Koziarski, who was still in training, were cruising in Darien when they came across an 18-wheeler pulled over to the side of the road and the driver trying to put up cones.

When Skelton and Koziarski approached the driver, it was immediately apparent that the man -- whose name Skelton doesn't remember -- was intoxicated.

Koziarski noticed a shell casing on the roadway.

Skelton noticed some blood under the door of the sleeper cabin and the door was slightly ajar. When the deputies opened the door, there was a man laying inside with a gunshot wound to his head.

The victim was still alive, but died the next day.

The murderer was apparently getting ready to dump the body in a ditch near the road.

"The Sheriff at the time told me that if we hadn't come along when we did, it probably would have gone down as another unsolved murder," Skelton said. "The two men were both from out of the area, they didn't know each other before meeting at a truck stop that night, and the trucker would have been long gone before we found the body."

The other murder case where Skelton showed up at the right place at the right time involved a group of traveling magazine sales reps. 

Skelton was dispatched to what is now the Clarion Hotel where a woman wanted to file a complaint about a possible assault.

While Skelton was talking with the woman, the two suspects showed up and she said, "there they are."

The two young men took off running. Skelton was able to tackle one and the other was eventually captured on the grounds of the VA Hospital.

It would be another half day before the bodies of the victims were found, dumped in a quarry off Seven Springs Road.

It turned out that the group had cooked up a plan to rob the gas station at the corner of Cedar and Ellicott streets. When two of the members of the group decided to back out, the other two young men decided to bash their heads in with rocks for fear the other two guys might snitch.

Both killers were eventually given sentences of life without parole.

Being in the right place at the right time figured prominently in other cases Skelton helped crack, such as the time in Alexander he came across a truck pulled over on Sandpit Road with a stolen riding mower in the bed, or the stolen vehicle he stopped for a traffic violation, only to notice broken glass and the ignition was punched out (the car, stolen out of Buffalo, hadn't even been reported missing yet). The driver, it turned out, was wanted on an arson warrant.

But even with the excitement of road patrol, when there was an opportunity to move to court security, it seemed like a good deal, Skelton said. Court security means all day shifts with weekends and holidays off.

Not that it's all a bed of roses in the courthouse.

Not everybody appreciates or understands the need for secuirty and they will complain about emptying their pockets, going through the scanner, getting bags and briefcases scanned, and are just some times unhappy with being summoned to court at all.

"It can be trying and get on your nerves at times," Skelton said.

While defendants and people in the gallery can get unruly in court at times, Skelton said he doesn't remember ever needing to wrestle anybody to the ground or make an arrest.

But working in the court house, seeing some cases from beginning to end, has been an eye-opener about how the legal process works, something he thinks all police officers would benefit from seeing.

"It's a lot different from being on the road," Skelton said. "Lawyers have 45 days just to file motions on their clients' behalf, so they have a lot of time to look into a case, where a lot of times, a police officer doesn't have a lot of time before making an arrest.

"(Officers should) come in and listen to a case from start to finish for a jury trial," Skelton said. "It opened my eyes quite a bit. I remember stuff I used to do on the road and in investigating cases and not worrying, say, about little things, and later those little things become big things in the case."

December 17, 2011 - 1:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Timothy G. Wescott was named Officer of the Year by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office during the department's annual awards luncheon at the office on Park Road, Batavia.

Senior Emergency Services Dispatcher James E. Tripp received the Distinguished Service Award.

During the luncheon, dozen of other honors were handed out for time in service, distinguished service and meritorious service.

For the complete press release along with more pictures, click on the headline.

Pictures from the event can be purchased by clicking here.

August 3, 2011 - 11:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Gary Maha told the Ways and Means Committee today that for new detective vehicles, nothing else but full-size sedans will really do.

Those smaller cars aren’t made to hold up under our driving conditions," Maha said. "They’re not made for police work."

Maha also said smaller sedans are less safe and detectives need all the trunk space of a full-sized sedan.

Highway Superintendent Tim Hens had presented bids for the county to buy three new sedans for detectives at Tuesday's Public Service Committee meeting and questioned were raised about the expense of big cars.

Maha appeared before the Ways and Means Committee today to explain the need for them.

Hens also came with additional information on the purchase.

It turns out, stepping down from a Chevy Impala to a Malibu would save only $200 per car.

That's because the GM fleet discount for Impalas is more than $1,000 greater for the bigger car.

There also wouldn't be a significant savings on gas, with the Malibu rated at 34 miles per gallon highway and the Impalas getting 29 mpg.

"If the different was a $1,000 I’d tell you to cram the stuff into the smaller trunk, but for $200, I’m more than happy to pay that," Legislator Jay Grasso said.

Maha said a typical detective carries in his trunk a shovel, muck boots, an arson kit, a DNA kit, camera equipment, a fingerprint kit, a crime scene kit, the hardware for the car's communications and computer-related supplies.

The lowest bid for the Impalas, at $20,010 per car, came from Ken Barrett Chevrolet in Batavia.

July 14, 2011 - 10:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Sheriff's Office, Genesee County Jail.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of death of 42-year-old Nikko C. Gambino, an inmate of the Genesee County Jail, who died Friday after being transported to UMMC.

Gambino was reportedly going through withdrawals from drugs and suffered various other medical issues, according to Sheriff Gary Maha.

Medical examiners have yet to determine the cause of death and are conducting an autopsy.

Gambino most recently made news locally after he was caught allegedly smuggling drugs into the jail. In that case, the search warrant was executed at UMMC, where Gambino reportedly had to pass the drugs before they could be recovered.

At the time, the Covington resident was serving an intermittent jail sentence for impersonating a federal law enforcement officer.

In a press release, Maha said Gambino was being closely monitored by corrections officers and medical personnel because of his health issues.

On Friday, at 2:12 p.m., a corrections officer spoke with Gambino who reportedly motioned he was OK. At 2:26 p.m., an officer making his rounds "noticed that Mr. Gambino wasn't doing well," Maha said.

The officer summoned assistance and another corrections officer administered CPR.

Gambino was transported to UMMC by Mercy EMS. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 3:05 p.m.

As required by regulations, the NYS Commission of Corrections was notified immediately of Gambino's death. The commission will conduct its own investigation, as required by law.

There is no sign of foul play, Maha said.

May 22, 2011 - 10:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Tim Wescott spent a few hours at Target on Saturday creating ID cards for children. The session includes getting their weight and height, getting fingerprints and snapping a picture. The parents receive (within seconds) a plastic, driver's license type of card with the identifying information of their children. The information is kept on file by the Sheriff's Office should it ever be needed to help identify the child in a crisis.

Wescott and other members of the Sheriff's Office have been out at many community events providing the ID service. Wescott said being in a retail store was the first time they had tried it in such location and he said the first couple of hours were pretty busy.

April 25, 2011 - 6:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, K-9, Sheriff's Office, Brian Thompson.

Deputy Brian Thompson's new partner has convinced him to keep working a couple of years longer.

Thompson was considering retirement in December, but then "Pharoah" came into his life.

The 8-year-old, 80 pound, Czech Shepherd was donated to the Sheriff's Office by the Niagara Falls PD and handler Michael Bird after K-9 "Finn" was retired due to a medical condition.

Thompson has nothing but praise for Pharoah, who he described as a great tracker, good with children and an excellent drug detection dog.

"When we get a chance to use him for tracking, we're going to find some bad guys andhopefully find some people who might be missing," Thompson said.

Already, Pharoah is making an impact in the fight against illegal drugs in Genesee County, according to Thompson.

"He's had some awesome drug finds so far that led us into some pretty good arrests, in the Class B felony range," Thompson said. "That inspires me."

It inspires him, Thompson said, to keep going for the sake of the community.

He thinks local law enforcement has been making good progress so far in fighting meth and crack in the community.

"Hopefully, some people will be put back on their heels to say, 'I don't want to deal drugs in Genesee County -- they're catching a lot of people there,'" Thompson said. "We can clean this town up. I love this place. It's the greatest place to live in the world."

Pharoah is trained to alert on methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, hashish and ecstasy.

He is also trained to track human scents, both in the open and in confined areas, and trained for handler protection and criminal apprehension.

The K-9 program's vet bills, medications and non-handler kenneling are paid for from a K-9 fund set up with community and business donations, including an original substantial donation by Ken Barrett Chevrolet several years ago. All equipment for the K-9 program also comes from the fund, and when Pharoah retires in a couple of years, a new K-9 will need to be purchased from the fund, which has been dwindling over the years, Thompson said.

He said he's confident, when the time comes, the community will come through to offer continued support of the Sheriff's K-9 program.

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