Kiwanis Club President Jeanne Walton and Genesee County Bar Association Benjamin Bonarigo, Sr. announced the awards during an annual dinner held at Batavia Country Club on Thursday, April 28, 2016. The speaker at the dinner was Hon. Thomas A. Belein, Chairman of the New York State Commission of Correction.
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 2016 AWARD RECIPIENTS ARE:
Sheriff Gary T. Maha, Genesee County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Gary T. Maha has been a member of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office for over 49 years. He started his law enforcement career as a dispatcher for the New York State Police in 1966 and became a Deputy Sheriff in 1967. He was promoted to a Senior Investigator on July 16, 1969, and then promoted to Chief Deputy on June 4, 1977. In 1988, he became Sheriff of Genesee County and has been ever since. Sheriff Maha is very disciplined, beyond reproach, has served well as the commander in chief of a quasi-military organization, has adapted well to five decades of technological and other advancements in law enforcement and has been actively involved in his community as a member of the Kiwanis Club, serving as the Club President, a member of the Board of Directors and a pancake maker at the annual Pancake Days, along with many other projects. He has earned the respect of his employees, the other professionals he works with in the Criminal justice System, his colleagues throughout NYS and the citizens of Genesee County. Sheriff Maha was nominated for this award by District Attorney Lawrence Friedman.
Police Officer James M. DeFreze, City of Batavia Police Department
Police Officer James M. DeFreze has been a member of the City of Batavia Police Department since 2010. He serves as a Field Training Officer and Crisis negotiator while remaining very active with all of the department’s community events. This past December, Officer DeFreze spearheaded and helped organize the department’s first ever Shop-with-a-Cop Event in conjunction with Wal-Mart of Batavia. The event was a huge success and reached every school district in the county. Officer DeFreze has gone above and beyond routine assistance to
not only respond to victims of domestic violence but to make them comfortable and secure with the way in which he treats them. Officer DeFreze has demonstrated a depth of knowledge and understanding of the very dynamics of domestic violence. This has enabled him to appropriately respond to each victim’s fragile emotions with amazing sensitivity, tact and patience. His concern for domestic violence victims is unsurpassed. Police Officer DeFreze was nominated for this award by Justina Garner, YWCA Program Manager for Domestic Violence, and Holly Baxter, YWCA Program Manager – Care & Crisis Helpline.
Investigators Ronald W. Wilson and Michael D. Sims, New York State Police
In August of 2015, the State Police BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigations) adopted a burglary investigation in the Town of Darien. Throughout the following weeks, additional burglaries were reported to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office as well as the New York State Police. Investigators Wilson and Sims worked diligently on all of the complaints in an effort to connect them and identify the perpetrators through evidence, interviews, and the sharing of intelligence with their counterparts at the Sheriff’s Office. Similar daytime residential burglaries were occurring in Erie and Niagara Counties. Wilson and Sims met with representatives of the agencies involved and together they formulated a plan to monitor and eventually arrest the suspects. In October, four suspects were arrested and charged with more than 30 residential burglaries spanning four counties in Western New York. Two of the defendants were additionally charged for their confession to an armed robbery that occurred earlier in the year. Investigators Ronald W. Wilson and Michael D. Sims were nominated for this award by Major Steven A. Nigrelli, Troop Commander, Troop A.
Chaplain Allen A. Werk, Genesee County Sheriff’s Offic
Charles L. Mancuso Mock Trial Award
The “Charles L. Mancuso Award” was presented to the members of the Pembroke High School Mock Trial Team as winners of the 2016 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”, Mr. Mancuso, a Batavia lawyer, served as coordinator of the local competition until his untimely death nine years ago. The Pembroke High School team members honored at the dinner include: Alison Reiner, Kilian Lewis, Matthew Reeb, Sophia Zwolinski, Samuel Lang, Kassandra Sanner, Seth Librock, Tyler Wood, Johnathon Doud, Bethany Zwolinski, Eli Fox and Coach Paul L. Schuler, Jr. Coordinator of the local Mock Trial Program, Kristie DeFreze, and Genesee County Bar Association President Benjamin Bonarigo, Sr. presented the award.
Genesee County Bar Association SPECIAL PRESENTATION
Attorney Mary Ann Wiater made a special presentation to David Saleh on behalf of the Genesee County Bar Association. Mr. Saleh has been a mock trial coach at Pembroke since the high school first started to compete. The success of a high school team many times is determined by attorney coaches who dedicate valuable time, spending innumerable evening hours and countless weekends to assist the team of students. The students of Pembroke high school are very fortunate to have had the dedication from David who is one of the finest advocates in the legal profession. He coached his children when they attended high school, and even though his children have long since graduated, David continues to coach. David believes in the Mock Trial program and in the value it provides to the students of Pembroke. Because of David, Pembroke has never been without an attorney coach, and under his tutelage, Pembroke has made it to the regional competition twice.
Genesee/Orleans Council on Substance Abuse (GCASA) Award
Exceptional Service Award – Sarah Palermo
Sheila Harding, Prevention Educator/VIP Coordinator for GCASA, presented the Exceptional Service Award to Sarah Palermo. Sarah attends almost every monthly DWI/Victim Impact Panel as a member where she shares her experiences and personal story of her daughter being a victim of a drunk driving crash. Sarah not only speaks on the Genesee County Panel but on other surrounding county panels. She demonstrates respect and genuine kindness towards GCASA staff and the offenders who attend the panel. Sarah is always willing to volunteer her time to speak for the panel, and speakers like her are the true reason why our DWI/Victim Impact Panel makes an impact in our community.