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November 18, 2010 - 10:48pm

No politics involved, Charvella case being handled by staff, DA says

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Chris Charvella, Jay Grasso.

Sure there's a free speech consideration, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said when discussing the arrest of local Democrat activist Chris Charvella on a charge of aggravated harassment, 2nd.

But the statute he's charged under has nothing to do with the content of the phone message Charvella left for Republican Legislator Jay Grasso.

lawrence_friedman.jpgThe statute is about making a phone call "for no legitimate purpose other than to harass or annoy," Friedman said.

The content of the message matters only in helping to establish intent, and intent is a matter, ultimately, only a judge or jury can decide.

"That's always true," Friedman said.

Critics of Charvella's arrest have expressed concern that the 30-year-old Batavia resident won't get a fair hearing in Genesee County because of his political affiliation.

Friedman, a Republican, said politics plays no part of it.

"I've been in this job 29 years and I challenge anyone to say politics has played a part in my decision making," Friedman said.

The case is being handled by one of Friedman's five assistant attorneys, and as is often the case, he said he isn't personally involved. Friedman said how the case is handled is entirely up to Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell.

Because of the jurisdiction of the case -- a town court, where ADAs handle the caseload -- and the nature of the charges, it's a case that he does not routinely follow.

"I don’t intend to get personally involved in this case, so my political affiliation is irrelevant," Friedman said. "My political affiliation is always irrelevant. I don’t look at anybody’s politics when I get involved in a case, neither the victims nor the defendants nor the witnesses nor anybody else."

He added, "I don't get involved just because a case is in the media."

Friedman said he hasn't read the case file and only knows about Charvella's arrest from what he's read in media reports. 

For previous coverage of Charvella's arrest for allegedly harassing Grasso, click here.

Photo: File photo.

dennis wight
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At one point I had an Order of Protection against an individual. It was a "no offensive conduct" order, which included harassment. I would get constant calls from this person and was told by city police that this was not harassment....just sayin'
Kyle Couchman
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That been my understanding as well Dennis when I have been in similar circumstances. But there is a little thing that Police Dept's use in things that arent @ a felony level. They will hide behind a thing called discretion when they dont feel the need to persue the letter of the law. I'm sure there are people here who have had the same thing happen.
dennis wight
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So, if it's not politically driven or part of "the good ole boys club", being that Grasso is an ex-sheriff, why is this being pursued as a harassment charge so aggressively?
Kyle Couchman
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Good question Dennis.... while we see that and common sense dictates to us to come to that conclusion. I find in my experience that common sense if far from common in all levels of society and most just accept what is told to them even if the facts are very in your face about the issue being otherwise.
Lisa Falkowski
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Another silly play in the game of life. It's not that I don't sympathize with any concerns that Mr. Grasso and his wife have, but stop and take a look at the bigger picture. Is this really the concern you make it out to be? Let's be grown-ups here. Again - can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Politics is not for everyone, and that's ok.
John Roach
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From the problem Dennis says he had, it appears to be what a Department considered use of discretion. What the City Police might ignore may not be ignored by other departments like the Sheriff or State Police. But the Sheriff and State Police just make the arrest, based on a complaint. It's at the DA level this thing either goes forward or not. I also don't think Grasso did it. I know two real losers who live in Batavia that were much more likely to have done it. I could also be completely wrong.
Julie A Pappalardo
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......The statute is about making a phone call "for no legitimate purpose other than to harass or annoy," .... Back before caller ID, this used to be called "crank calling" and remember it being FUN! Caller ID ruined everything.
Peter O'Brien
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That doesn't mean it wasn't harassment then...
George Richardson
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This case was already decided by the Supreme Court in Falwell vs Flynt. Any judge not deserving impeachment will throw this childish nonsense out before it ever gets to court.
John Roach
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George, That case was based on a parody of Falwell, not a call to a house. Also, it was also based on a civil lawsuit , not a criminal matter.
George Richardson
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It was based on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Spin it however you like, but so is this one. However, a civil suit by Chris against Jay and the NYS Troopers for false arrest, does seem in order. This case could get very nasty once subpoenas are served during discovery. Jay needs to think about that, long and hard, payback is and always has been, not nice.
John Roach
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George, Your lack of legal understanding is awesome.
Bea McManis
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Posted by Howard Owens on November 17, 2010 - 3:45pm Sgt. Schmidt said he has seen the "puncture tire" statement on print outs provided by the alleged victim (it's possible this was provided to the Daily by an unknown State Police source, leading to the "State Police" attribution, but since I have not seen these print outs, it's not clear what context these were provided in for the State Police). He also said the the State Police checked with the District Attorney's Office before deciding to make an arrest. "We thought maybe it was (harassment), maybe it wasn't. He (the DA) felt that it was so we proceeded with the arrest," Schmidt said. No politics involved, Charvella case being handled by staff, DA says Posted by Howard Owens on November 18, 2010 - 10:48pm "Friedman said he hasn't read the case file and only knows about Charvella's arrest from what he's read in media reports." http://thebatavian.com/blogs/howard-owens/no-politics-involved-charvella... Sgt. Schmidt states that the State Police checked with the District Attorney's office (which I read as he could have contacted any member of the DA staff). Then, he states that the "He (the DA)..." which narrows it down to one particular person who "felt it was so we proceeded with the arrest". Is Sgt. Schmidt referring to Friedman? Just wondering.
Howard B. Owens
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Bea, in my experience, "he" could refer to whatever member of the DA's staff a member of the State Police talked to. Keep in mind, it wasn't necessarily Schmidt who made the call, so the "he" should be taken quite generically to refer to the DA's office rather than the man himself.
Bea McManis
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Howard, That is why I said the call could have gone to any member of the staff. The "he", however raised a red flag. Just as an aside, and maybe I spent too many years in corporate meetings, I would like to know how cases are assigned and if they are reviewed in a timely manner. I can't imagine only learning about cases through the media.
Howard B. Owens
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It's my understanding, each ADA has town courts they're assigned to. Kevin Finnell apparently handles Le Roy, which is how he got this case.
Bea McManis
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Howard, when you get a chance could you please ask the trooper for clarification of who they actually talked to? Most likely, based on the your post, it was Finnell since he handles LeRoy. Thanks ;)
Howard B. Owens
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I don't believe it was Schmidt who was involved in the arrest. I'm not sure who was. It's not something I want to pester the State Police with trying to track down.
John Roach
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Bea, You might ask Chris or his attorney. Either one might have the answer.
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Wow , John you don't have an answer . I thought you knew everything or at least you look it up to make it look like you know everything . Finnell does handle Leroy . I find it interesting that Jay Grasso called the Troopers and not the Sherifs , odd isn't it .Could be he has burned his bridges with the county going from patrol to what he is now the L word and that is with five letters .
John Roach
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Tommy, Tommy, Why so bitter? You have some inside information for us? I bet Grasso knew that the State Police would handle the complaint without any idea of who the players were, or even care. Nice move if Grasso's intention was to stick it to Chris.
Charlie Mallow
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Case law, lawyers, freedom of speech, maybe just a little over the top, don't you think? Here's an old fashion idea. Chris says "I'm sorry for calling your wife and making her uncomfortable. It was a mistake making such a big deal about the sign. I over reacted. It was not my intention to be threatening." Then Jay says "I'm sorry about putting the sign in front of your business, it was a mistake too. I was just joking when I put the sign in your yard. I shouldn't have done that either but, I wasn't thinking about how you would feel about that." Then they both go down to the local pub and buy each other a drink. Note: boys, feel free to copy and paste right below.
Howard B. Owens
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Charlie, you hippie.
Jennifer Keys
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I wonder if kids block their numbers before they make crank calls these days so that they won't be arrested for harassment. BTW: Is your refrigerator running?
Dave Olsen
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"The statute is about making a phone call "for no legitimate purpose other than to harass or annoy," Friedman said." Uh, I want to file a complaint against my mother-in-law
Jennifer Keys
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Is it possible that Chris Charvella was genuinely thanking Grasso for reading his blog?
Bea McManis
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Did Chris actually make that phone call to Mrs. Grasso? Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but I was under the impression he was calling Mr. Grasso and addressed the voice mail to him. Jennifer, Missed you tonight at the graduation ceremony. It was a wonderful evening.
George Richardson
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John is harassing me. I called the State Police and they said: "Get lost."
John Roach
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Read Scott DeSmit's article on page 5 of the Daily News about all this. It's hard not to agree with him.
Howard B. Owens
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DeSmit: "a local chat room site" I can only laugh.
Howard B. Owens
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Also, no need to buy the paper -- here's the link.
John Roach
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Howard, I was surprised he gave you even that much credit.
bud prevost
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Desmit from above link: I was in there long enough to know that Charvella is just a wise-guy, fairly harmless and a person who should not be in charge of any real, serious political party or person. Sort of like a less threatening, Democrat version of Carl Paladino. I snorted coffee out my nose when I read this. I found it hilarious, given Chris's obvious disdain for "Kinky Carl".
Chris Charvella
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I'm gonna take you out Bud. **pointsfinger** Disclaimer: The above comment was a (poor) attempt at dry humor. All individuals involved in said comment are works of fiction and any resemblance to actual people or events are a result of coincidence. No animals were harmed in the writing of this comment.
bud prevost
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Chris, thanks for the disclaimer. I'm never sure when to take a politician seriously :)
Billie Owens
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Okay, fess up. Which one of yous guys has Prince Albert in a can?
Justin Burger
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Bart Simpson was always good for a prank call:
Howard B. Owens
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A friend of mine traveling back to Rochester at the moment, posted this on Twitter during his layover in Atlanta: "Neer Lee Dun was just paged in the Atlanta airport."
Jeff Allen
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Chris, why would you need a disclaimer, I thought a smiley face emoticon is all that's neccessary.
C. M. Barons
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Howard B. Owens
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One of my all-time favorite commercials. I have a great antique pin-and-ink drawing of the duel that a retired Marine general, a former neighbor, now deceased, gave me when I was in high school.
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Jeff. lighten up. haven't you seen that some are also including an explanation for their choice of emoticon ;) a wink.
Michele Case
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Laugh all you wanna, but there's no justice here in Genesee County. I was told once that "they will indict a baloney sandwich" here. The truth gets so twisted in this system and everybody is guilty! Also it is not their style (DA) to drop charges, everything goes forward even if they find out there is no truth in the charges. Doesn't matter what you all think. As far as Grasso going to the Troopers instead of Sheriff Dept...my crazy neighbor across the street Stormin' Norman yells profanities often at passing people, children, me and my kids etc. No provocation needed. Most of Bergen know him, and have said he shouldn't be able to live in society (that crazy). When he constantly cursed my pool contractors this summer, I called the sheriff and was told as long as he was on his own property he could scream profanities all day long. Maybe Grasso went to the Troopers because obviously they will arrest people. I don't know Chris, but did meet Jay at a party and spoke with him at length. He was fun and a really nice guy. I am surprised this thing got so out of hand and that he went there! Once in motion though, I don't even think he himself could drop the charge.
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Don't forget this classic:

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