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November 15, 2010 - 6:00pm

DA's office moving forward with political harassment charge, but new judge needed first

posted by Billie Owens in politics, Le Roy, Chris Charvella, Jay Grasso.

A new judge will be requested to hear the case of Chris Charvella, a member of the Genesee County Democratic Committee charged with aggravated harassment, 2nd.

In Le Roy Town Court this afternoon, Judge Kermit Arrington readily agreed to recuse himself since Charvella had worked on his election campaign.

Likewise, Le Roy Town Judge Charles Dusen will also be asked to recuse himself because the complainant, Republican Jay Grasso, had worked on his campaign.

The recusals will be forwarded to county court Judge Robert Noonan who will appoint another judge.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell suggested that the case be moved to another town or county because of conflicts of interest in the politically sensitive matter. Charvella's attorney, E. Robert Fussell, opposed the idea and Arrington said there was no adequate basis to justify moving the case.

County Legislator Jay Grasso had Charvella arrested by State Troopers after Charvella made statements on his blog regarding some campaign sign shenanigans and he left a message on Grasso's home phone.

On his blog Charvella said, among other things, that he was going to stick a campaign sign up the arse of the first Republican he encountered at local GOP headquarters if another sign for Republican Senator Mike Ranzenhofer showed up on property he managed.

After a sign reportedly did show up at Charvella's house, with a message written on it that indicated it may have been left by Grasso.

That prompted a call from Charvella to Grasso's home phone.

"Hey, Jerome, it's Chris Charvella. Thanks for reading my blog," was the message Charvella left.

He then posted a blog item that concluded with a picture of an Ewok and the message, "prepare your anus."

In a statement to The Batavian on Friday, Charvella said he didn't believe he did anything illegal.

Before Arrington spoke, Fussell had a brief conversation with Finnell. Fussell asked if the DA's office had received his faxed letter, seeking dismissal of the case because it is a First Amendment issue.

Finnell acknowledged reading the letter, but said "This is not a First Amendment case. ...By calling the house and referencing the blog, that was taken as a threat."

"You're kidding?" said Fussell.

"No, I'm serious," Finnell said flatly.

"I'm ready -- whatever," responded Fussell.

Moments later, an incredulous Fussell told Arrington "We live in a whole new universe than the one I grew up in."

Democrats Rose Mary Christian, who sits on the Batavia City Council, and Lorie Longhany, who chairs the County Democratic Committee, accompanied Charvella in court today.

"This is absolutely not a good use of taxpayer money," Christian said afterward. "There was no threat to Jay or Mrs. Grasso. You should hear some of the messages people have left on my phone. You wouldn't believe the stuff they say. 'You bitch, why did you do that?' I just call them back and say "Here's why."

Longhany said the case is pure politics, adding that Grasso is "trying to shut us up" and that Charvella will wind up paying a hefty legal bill for nothing.

Previously: Local Dem arrested after Republican legislator accuses him of harassing phone call

Julie A Pappalardo
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OMG....Is this for real??!! REALLY? Are MY tax dollars really going to pay for THIS instead of (insert City improvement here)...How much is this going to cost us??? A sitting Politico is actually going to go through with this and burden the taxpayers with the bill?? And this guy (Grasso) is a Republican to boot! I thought you guys were supposed to be the "fiscally conservate" ones? Costing US $$ is NOT fiscally conservative. For crying out loud....Over WHAT? "He posted something mean about me on his blog" "Only one of HIS people put a lawn sign in my yard" Are you serious?? GROW UP PEOPLE!! Grasso, just let it go, man....Don't make US pay this bill!! Perhaps you can sue Mr Charvella in civil court....Where YOU can pay the lawyer/court/etc bills... (shaking head) I hope the Judge in this just throws it out of court. And makes BOTH of them pay the court fees for wasting the court's time!
John Roach
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Julie, You're 100% right on.
Justin Burger
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I agree with Julie up until her last statement...Grasso should pay the court fees...He's the one who filed the ridiculous charges. Chris already has his own defense fees to pay for. I hope everyone remembers this incident when Grasso comes up for re-election. Someone who doesn't understand sarcasm, and has such thin skin that an Ewok scared him, perhaps shouldn't be in public office.
dennis wight
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Grasso must have pretty thin skin to get his lil panties in a knot over this. I, like Julie, don't like the idea of wasting time and money on this. Don't we have freedom of speech in this country or is Genesee county exempt of our constitutional rights? Put on your big boy pants, Grasso...Should I be waiting for the Troopers to come get me, Jerome?
Daniel Jones
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Am I living in bizzaro Genesee County or is this actually happening?
Paul Cook
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Maybe Grasso was at homecoming that year that Chris streaked with a "Attica Sucks" bumper sticker on his arse. Poor guy may still be traumatized.
John Roach
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Paul, Boy, am I hoping your joking.
Paul Cook
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Nope, happened about 16 years ago
Daniel Jones
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Paul - Thank you for giving me nightmares.
C. M. Barons
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Two responses: 1) Send a letter to Genesee County District Attorney, Lawrence Friedman, citing dissatisfaction with this unjustified waste of taxpayers' money. Address: Old Court House, 7 Main Street, Batavia, NY 14020. 2) Donate generously to Chris Charvella Defense Fund c/o E. Robert Fussell, 46 Wolcott St. #1, LeRoy, NY 14482.
Jennifer Keys
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Thank you, Mr. Barons. I hope people take your post seriously. Letter writing/speaking up is the way to affect change.
RICHARD L. HALE
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Like the courts don't have enough to keep them busy.... I do think though, if you decide to throw your hat into the political ring, you should toughen yourself up a little first.
Lisa Falkowski
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Sorry, Mr. Grasso ... they're right ... you need to toughen up. While what happened to you wasn't right, let's put it in perspective.
Bea McManis
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Lisa, with all due respect, what exactly happen to Mr. Grasso? Was he physically attacked? Did that voice mail attack his person or his family? Yes he does have to man up and yes, it should be put in perspective. Mr. Grasso, or someone from GOP headquarters, placed political signs on property without permission. Sounds like a small deal, doesn't it? There is a protocol regarding the placing of signs. After a complaint was made to the board of elections about the sign(s), the same sign was again placed, without permission, with a note attached signed with Mr. Grasso's name. Chris vented in a blog. His phone call was benign. Chris was arrested for exercising his first amendment rights. Is that what you want to have happen in Genesee County? I understand your comment, but don't understand what happen to Mr. Grasso that warrented your sympathy.
George Richardson
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It sounds like some State Troopers need to be reassigned to a higher crime area. They are obviously overstaffed in Genesee County. Prepare your asso, Grasso because the judge is going to tear you a new one.
John Roach
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Bea, While Grasso is acting like a baby, Chris should not have made that phone call. He had no way of knowing for sure Grasso put the sign on his property and the call was a just taking a shot at Grasso. It backfired on Chris.
George Richardson
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I don't know about that John. Wait until Grrrr asso's re-election attempt next year. Even right wing whack job Teaboogers believe in the First Amendment, although much less so than the Second. Teatavia, where saying "Nanny nanny boo boo" can get you arrested. I'm going to have that printed on a T-Shirt.
bud prevost
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Childish behavior on both parts. I feel like I'm reading about junior high tit for tat BS. The only difference is, we have real NYS troopers taking time from fighting crime. 8th grade bullshit, that's all I'm saying.
Dave Olsen
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Bud, you got it exactly right. the rest has been deleted by me. D.O.
Bea McManis
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George, I don't know Mrs. Grasso, but she didn't deserve that shot. She was put in the middle of this by her husband.
Dave Olsen
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Comment deleted by me. D.O. I'm breaking a rule I have for me about never deleting my comments. I feel it is wrong, if I said it, I should stand by it. But this time, after thinking about it, I don't want anything to do with this thing, not even voicing my opinion. I don't care what happens. It's why a lot of folks are disgusted with politics.
George Richardson
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Bea, I take back my snide remark if you will be the judge.
Bea McManis
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I'm not judging you, George, I'm stating an opinion. I noticed you kept the post up, so you are perfectly fine with letting people who seem to believe everything they read, even if it starts with "My guess is..", as fact then that is your business. I just don't understand why you even want to make that sort of inference unless you have proof.
C. M. Barons
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Bea, sometimes it's difficult to interpret George; he mixes puns, sarcasm and fantasy- seldom distinguishing one from the other. (I'm awed by his sustained delirium; presume its source- drinking from the same aquifer that enabled G W Bush to hallucinate WMD in Iraq.) I interpreted his bargain, "Bea, I take back my snide remark if you will be the judge," as suggestion, you adjudicate the trial. I defer to George for clarification.
Peter O'Brien
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"This is absolutely not a good use of taxpayer money," Christian said afterward. Should we discuss the votes you've made that wasted tax payer money?
George Richardson
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O.k. Bea, I took it down. Dave Olsen had suggested a contest, but he didn't want to be the judge. This internet stuff gets very complicated and convoluted beyond comprehension, at times. Actually, I think Howard took my post down. But, I was going to anyway.
George Richardson
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C.M. I do drink that water. It's good water and relatively free of pesticides. What I enjoy most about posting to the Batavian is that 99% of my comments are totally ignored, as they should be. I'm not trying to entertain y'all, just me. And it obviously works or I wouldn't keep coming back.
Bea McManis
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C.M. and George. I appreciate sarcasm and wit as well as the next. There is a fine line between that and hurting the reputation of someone for the sake of the laugh. I wouldn't want it done to me and certainly didn't want to see it done to anyone else. Thank you, George, for taking it down (or Howard). For the record, I never read Dave's original post. Ergo, had no knowledge of a contest.
Lorie Longhany
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Peter, Rosemary is a fiscal conservative who rarely votes for a city budget. I think if you look at her record you will find a prudent steward of the tax payers money. Her statement makes the most sense of anything anyone's said about this charge. People call elected officials. People that agree with them and people that don't. We have an issue right now regarding the demise of Genesee Justice. People should be calling their elected officials about that! Instead this case may make people in this county leery of speaking up and exercising that right. Scary.
Peter O'Brien
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She voted for the pay raise for firefighters while everyone else including me was taking pay cuts or losing their jobs, that is not fiscally conservative....

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