While the Kiwanis Club of Batavia announced several award winners for its annual Law Day event in advance, there was one person kept in the dark about all of the planned awards.
District Attorney Lawrence Friedman.
Friedman is finishing out his final term as district attorney, ending a 24-year run as the county's longest-serving DA, and to recognize him for his service to the community, the Kiwanis Club presented him with a Special Service Award.
Speakers honoring Friedman included retired Sheriff Gary Maha (the longest-serving sheriff in the county and currently a county legislator), Theresa Asmus-Roth, director of the Child Advocacy Center, County Manager Matt Landers, First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell, retired Family Court Judge Eric Adams, retired County Court Judge Robert C. Noonan (also Friedman's predessor as DA), and former U.S. Attorney for Western New York, William Hochul.
Hochul said Friedman is the best prosecutor he's ever known.
"He stands as the absolute epitome of what a prosecutor should be," Hochul said.
Friedman began his career in the DA's office in 1981 and became DA 16 years later. Hochul noted that with Friedman's considerable legal knowledge and talent, the attorney could have become rich in private practice but instead he took on the tough role as a public servant in law enforcement.
Kiwanis Criminal Justice Award
The Kiwanis Club of Batavia Criminal Justice Award is presented to a member or members of the community, law enforcement, or a criminal justice agency serving the citizens of Genesee County whose exceptional career achievements and conscientiousness to citizenship have demonstrated a spirit of selfless public service or demonstrated an act of exceptional valor or heroism.
The 2021 Award Recipients are:
Genesee County Sheriff’s Office -- Sgt. Andrew B. Hale; Deputies David D. Moore, Kyle D. Krzemien, Howard O. Wilson, V., Andrew Z. Mullen, Joshua A. Brabon; Brock D. Cummins; and Investigator Christopher A. Parker.
Le Roy Police Department -- Sgt. Gregory Kellogg and Officers Jordan Wolcott and Austin Steinbrenner
On May 27, 2020, at about 2037 hours (8:37 p.m.), what began as a typical traffic stop in Le Roy, turned into a multiagency pursuit of a tractor-trailer through multiple counties at speeds up to 70+ mph. The tractor-trailer recklessly swerved into oncoming traffic, putting innocent drivers at risk; made multiple U-turns; attempted to strike patrol vehicles, and shot at officers several times. Four different patrol vehicles were struck by bullets, one vehicle with at least eight rounds. One of the bullets went through the windshield and struck the rear partition over a Deputy’s headrest. Fortunately, the Deputy had been leaning to his right at the time. The pursuit came to an end when the tractor-trailer, heading toward the Village of Geneseo, was fired upon by officers and it exited the roadway. The driver was pronounced deceased at the scene and the reign of terror ended.
The ensuing investigation revealed that the driver was on the FBI watch list. Searches at his residence and rental property revealed bomb-making instructions, improvised explosive devices, multiple weapons, and large amounts of ammunition. These findings, along with his social media posts, revealed that he was an anti-police extremist and was planning violence on a larger scale.
The pursuit that night lasted approximately an hour and 15 minutes. The amount of lives that were endangered is countless. Patrols from multiple jurisdictions placed themselves in danger to protect the public for the entire duration of the incident. They cleared roadways and intersections while their patrol cars were in danger of being rammed by the tractor-trailer and in the line of fire while the driver was shooting at them. They coordinated over jurisdictional lines to remove a threat to the public, not only for that night but certainly for a future time.
These officers were nominated for this award by Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. and Le Roy Police Chief Gregory Kellogg (formerly Sergeant Kellogg).
City of Batavia Retired Police Officer Jason Davis
Police Officer Jason Davis has served many roles within the department during his nearly 22 years of service to the community. He has served as an Officer-in-Charge, Instructor, Field Training Officer and Emergency Response Team member, to name a few. Officer Davis served as the department's de-escalation instructor and, most recently, he was assigned as the School Resource Officer to the Batavia City School District where he immediately made an impact in the lives of students and staff in the District. He was able to successfully de-escalate incidents with students, act as a role model and mentor to many, and served as an invaluable resource to the staff. Throughout his career, Officer Davis handled all of his duties with professionalism and pride for the uniform he wears and the department he represents.
Officer Davis was nominated for this award by City of Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch.
Village of Le Roy Retired Chief of Police Christopher Hayward
Retired Chief of Police Christopher Hayward has served the Village of Le Roy since his teenage years. He began his career as an Officer and rose to the position of Chief of Police through years of dedication, commitment, and compassion to all of the members of the community. Hayward was instrumental in the consolidation of the local village and town courts, seeking to provide an efficient and effective court operation. He is a man of high integrity and fostered many relationships with community members of all ages. He supported and worked hard to partner in the County’s shared E-9-1-1 Emergency Services Dispatch Center.
Chief Hayward was nominated for this award by Genesee County Legislator (District #5, Le Roy) Rochelle Stein.
Charles L. Mancuso Mock Trial Award
The “Charles L. Mancuso Award” was presented to the members of the Alexander High School Mock Trial Team as winners of the 2021 GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties) District Competition in the New York State Bar Association High School Mock Trial Tournament. The award reads “Dedicated to the Memory of an Outstanding Attorney-Citizen.” Mancuso, a Batavia lawyer, served as coordinator of the local competition until his untimely death 14 years ago.
The Alexander High School team members honored include: Erin Hess, Annie Slenker, Shawn Calmes, Katarina Luker, Imogene Plitt, Dana Morelli, Olivia Burkhardt, Holly Bykowski, Maia Saile, and teacher coach Johnny Lucas. Coordinator of the local Mock Trial Program, Kristie DeFreze, presented the award.
Genesee County Bar Association Special Honors
The Genesee County Bar Association is honoring the lives of two longstanding attorneys who passed away in 2020.
Theron “Ted” Howard passed away on June 11 after practicing law in Genesee County since 1978. Howard spent most of his legal career in his own private practice but fulfilled several public roles as well. He worked as an Assistant District Attorney, served the Town of Pavilion as Town Justice and Town Supervisor, and prosecuted traffic matters in the towns of Pavilion and Batavia. Howard also volunteered generously in the community – on the Pavilion School Board, the Le Roy Historical Society Board, and the Genesee Community College Foundation Board.
David Saleh passed away on Oct. 29. Dave spent many years in private practice before becoming in-house counsel at Enlighten. Saleh is a past president of the Genesee County Bar Association and acted as a delegate to the State Judicial Nominating Committee for more than 35 years. During the year leading up to his death, he served as a part-time City Court Judge in Batavia. Beyond his professional endeavors, he donated his time and energy to his community – at his church, as a volunteer firefighter, as a member of the Lions Club, and as a board member of the Corfu Free Library and St. Jerome Hospital Foundation.