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January 17, 2020 - 6:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

For Rep. Chris Collins sobbed in court, the Washington Post reports, while his attorneys argued for leniency, before a Federal judge sentenced Collins to 26 months in prison for engaging in insider trading and lying to the FBI.

“I have no excuse," Collins said sobbing. "I tarnished my reputation."

The prosecution sought a sentence of 46 to 57 months in a Federal penitentiary.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Max Nicholas argued that Collins deserved prison time because he organized the conspiracy among his family members to help them avoid losing money on the stock, lied to federal agents about it and then announced he would seek re-election to his seat. His attorneys pointed to Collins’ record of public service and said the crime was an isolated decision made in the heat of the moment.

The Post reports: “I cannot face my constituents. What I have done has marked me for life," Collins said.

The NY-27 has been without representation in Washington since Collins resigned in September, after winning re-election while proclaiming his innocence and vowing to "clear my name."

There will likely be a special election to fill the seat April 29, a little more than two months before the scheduled 2020 primary for the office.

January 16, 2020 - 9:50pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in news, crime, batavia, notify.
         Malik Ayala

After a closed-door meeting with Public Defender Jerry Ader and District Attorney Larry Friedman, Judge Charles Zambito emerged from Chambers on Thursday announcing that 27-year-old Malik Ayala was accepted into a Judicial Diversion Program that could last seven months or more.

While in the seven-month program, he will also be under the supervision of the Probation Department. Since Ayala entered drug treatment programs in Niagara County and in Genesee County this past fall, he has kept out of trouble and has been clean of drugs and alcohol and has avoided sentencing.

Ayala has already accepted a plea deal and has pled guilty to a felony burglary charge.

He was picked up on Nov. 15, 2018, in connection with a string of burglaries in Genesee County after Investigator Chris Parker with the Sheriff’s Office identified a vehicle that was wanted in connection with the burglaries.

The vehicle was being operated by TeeSean T. Ayala, 20, Malik’s brother.

After the vehicle turned into a driveway at 317 Washington Ave., a .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol was thrown from the vehicle. The Sheriff’s Office says TeeSean Ayala was in possession of a stolen handgun that had a defaced serial number in the vehicle during the traffic stop.

TeeSean Ayala, 20, of Batavia, was sentenced in Genesee County Court to five years in prison and five years post-release supervision in the incident. TeeSean pled guilty to one count of criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd, which satisfies seven other residential burglary charges dating back to 2015.

Today, Malik Ayala told Judge Zambito that he was thankful to Horizon and the Court for allowing him to attend the treatment centers.

“I was a knucklehead," he said. "I was on drugs but now I am clean, living out of town and my mind is focused. I want to say I’m sorry to the community for my past.”

Judge Zambito warned Ayala that if he doesn’t toe the line he will go to prison.

“This is just the first step,” Zambito said. “I will be monitoring you in the diversion program and on probation, I can sentence you to seven years if you mess up.”

Malik Ayala was convicted on a burglary charge in 2010 after violating his probation. He served a state prison term after being sentenced to one to four years.

Friedman disagreed with the idea of the diversion program.

“Based on his history, he went to prison for burglary and graduated to residential burglary, I feel state prison is appropriate,” Friedman said.

Ader told the court that his client is eligible for the program and he has kept up with his treatments and there are no new crimes that have been committed.

“Mr. Ayala knows if he messes up he could face seven years in prison and I think that speaks volumes,” Ader said.

Temporary orders of protection were extended until Jan. 16, 2021.

Judge Zambito wished Ayala luck as he left the courtroom.

The sentencing was adjourned to Aug. 11 at 9 a.m., but the sentencing date could get pushed back again depending on what the diversion program advises at the end of seven months.

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January 16, 2020 - 5:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, news, notify.

Richard Siebert, chairman of the Genesee County Republican Party, has straightforward opinions about how he will go about deciding who to back for the GOP nod in the NY-27 special election on April 29.

Finding somebody who can self-fund is not a top priority.

He won't want to back a candidate who might turn around and run in a primary against the GOP-endorsed candidate in June.

He was all in for Steve Hawley until Hawley this afternoon withdrew his name from consideration.

"Steve Hawley is my man," Siebert said last night. "Unless Steve tells me he's no longer interested, I'm backing Steve."

Well, Steve is no longer interested, and that leaves six or seven other potential candidates, including three -- Sen. Rob Ortt, Sen. Chris Jacobs, and Darien resident Beth Parlato -- who have been campaigning the past several months as if they expect a primary rather than a special election. 

It's expected that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will call for a special election next month and set the date for April 28, the same day there will be a New York primary for the Democratic presidential primary.

The special election is necessary because Chris Collins, who will be sentenced tomorrow on his insider trading conviction, resigned in September.

In special elections, the chairs of the counties for the political parties select a candidate to represent the party.  

Siebert said he expects the process will go much as it did in 2018, after Collins was arrested by the FBI, and initially said he didn't plan to run for re-election. 

When it looked like there would be a special election previously, the eight county chairs in the NY-27 District met at least twice, interviewed candidates and deliberated their choices. Before a decision was reached, Collins changed his mind about not running and vowed that he would clear his name.

The process gives county chairs weighted votes, which in the past has meant that Erie County and Niagara County chairs essentially picked the candidate and everybody else fell in line. 

Erie County has favored candidates who can self-fund their campaigns. Siebert said he's not in favor of taking that same approach again.

"I have to be candid," Siebert said. "I speak the way I feel. Several of the last candidates we've had -- Jane Corwin, Chris Lee, and Chris Collins -- have self-funded. Our track record with that is not very good so I'm not looking for a self-funded candidate. They're out there, but obviously we know some are wealthy and some are not. That's not my criteria. I'm not looking at 'who can afford it.' I'm not looking for somebody who can afford to win. I'm looking for somebody who is qualified to win."

Considering that Ortt, Jacobs, and Parlato have all been raising funds, gathering endorsements, and sending out press releases, it might appear that any of them might still run in a June primary even if they don't get the GOP endorsement for the April special election.

Siebert said he expects an expression of party loyalty before the special election endorsement is issued.

"The first thing I always ask any candidate, and I'm not secret about this, is 'will you support the candidate that we nominate?' " Siebert said. "I need to hear them say, number one, they're not going to primary the nominee regardless. In my count, I have a strong and deep feeling about this, that if you're not part of our system (I'm not going to back you).

"I don't like primaries. That is my personal feeling and I would have a hard time supporting anybody who would primary the nominee."

We've attempted to get a comment from Ortt, Jacobs, and Parlato and have yet to receive a response. (Ortt did respond just before publication but his response was ambiguous. We're holding it for a possible follow-up story.)

"Everybody has the opportunity to run, whoever doesn't get it, can run in the primary," Siebert said. "That's your choice and it's there. That's the way it is. I respect that. But as chairman, I don't like primaries. I like to be unified. Now, that's their right. That's their constitutional right but that's the way I feel, so that is how we've done things in Genesee County."

With the special election being held on the same day as the Democratic presidential primary, some political observers speculate that if there is high Democratic turnout, it might favor the Democratic candidate in the NY-27 -- most likely, Nate McMurray, who narrowly lost in 2018 to Chris Collins. Siebert isn't buying it. He doesn't think the chairs need to find a moderate Republican who will distance him or herself from President Donald Trump.

"This is a Trump county right here," Siebert said. "He got 72 percent of the vote in the last election. Anyone who is going to run for an office in my county who is not a Trump supporter, well, they're not going to do well. It is what it is. He did get 72 percent of the vote. This is a very conservative county. We support the Second Amendment. I can tell you, if you're not a Trump supporter in my county, you're not going to do well."

Siebert, who is also the Republican elections commissioner, and Lorie Longhany, Democratic commissioner, met with the Ways and Means Committee yesterday to get authorization to lease 10 new ballot readers at a cost of $19,000 a year. The new readers are easier to use and faster but the election equipment upgrade needs to be expedited because of the probable special election on the same day as a presidential primary. 

The funds for the machines in the first year will come from grant money already received by the county.  The multi-year lease will also put the county on a replacement schedule for ballot readers that will help the Elections Commission keep technology current and machines reliable.

As for who might represent the GOP in April, Siebert offered no predictions on who the chairs might support but he did say he's not happy the chairs have to make the selection.

"I don't like this whole process, to be honest with you, because we're in a situation now where eight Republican chairmen have to get together and tell our voting public who we want them to vote for, who's going to be on the ballot on April 28," Siebert said. "You get the feeling it is eight men in a room  -- there are women involved, too -- with you always being criticized for smoking cigars or whatever but it is the eight of us telling the public who's going to be the candidate.

"I don't like that at all. But the law is the law. We have no choice because of the election law that we have to do it this way."

January 14, 2020 - 9:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, alexander, notify.
2018 mugshot of Cleveland Johnson

The driver of a rented Chrysler 300 that slammed sideways into a tree in the Village of Alexander yesterday was apparently a member of a nationwide criminal enterprise known as the "Felony Lane Gang."

The gang members, often recognizable by their gold teeth, are known to smash into parked vehicles and then use stolen debit cards to obtain cash from bank accounts. When going to a bank, they use the lane furthest from the bank building, which makes it harder for security cameras to pick up identifying information. That lane is known as the "Felony Lane," hence the gang's name. 

Cleveland D. Johnson, 22, of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The vehicle he was driving was stopped for a traffic violation in the Village of Warsaw but Johnson hit the gas after the police officer exited the patrol car and headed west on Route 20. At Varysburg, he turned north and an Attica PD patrol spotted the vehicle on Route 98 and attempted to pursue but soon broke off the pursuit because of the high rate of speed of the white Chrysler. Johnson lost control of the sedan as he entered the village and the car wrapped around a large tree in front of a residence on Main Road.

Johnson, according to Chief Deputy Brian Frieday, did have gold teeth.

One of Johnson's passengers, Clyde A. Frazier, 24, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., was seriously injured in the crash and remains in guarded condition (meaning he is in the intensive care unit) at Strong Memorial Hospital. A social media profile for a Clyde Frazier in Ft. Lauderdale shows multiple pictures of a young man with gold teeth.

The other passenger in the vehicle, Desarae N. Steriotis, 33, of Philadelphia, was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC. Frieday said as of today, her injuries are no longer considered life threatening.

Frieday said investigators are still developing information about the suspects and didn't have anything to add about their activities in the area.

Johnson was arrested in Greenburgh, N.Y., in January 2018, along with three other individuals, who were all accused of being part of the "Felony Lane Gang." One of the other suspects, Tyrone Parker, bared his gold teeth for his mugshot.

The four people were suspected of taking part in a crime spree throughout New England and Upstate New York. At the time of their arrest, they were reportedly found in possession stolen checks, dozens of stolen credit and debit cards, and 25 stolen licenses from several different states.

In July, Johnson was arrested in Watervliet, along with two other suspects, charged with criminal possession of a stolen substance, a felony, and criminal impersonation, a misdemeanor.

The Felony Lane Gang is reportedly based in the Ft. Lauderdale area but operates nationally. There have been crimes and arrests reported in nearly every one of the lower 48 states.

Our news partner, 13WHAM reports that Frazier has a criminal record in Florida.

January 14, 2020 - 12:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Alabama, Le Roy, pembroke.

Renee Suzanne Symonds, 51, of Cedar Cove Trail, Rochester, is charged with third-degree assault and second-degree harassment. Symonds was arrested after an investigation at Batavia Downs Casino & Hotel on Park Road in Batavia. She allegedly attacked two security guards at 4:58 p.m. on Jan. 13 after refusing to leave the property. She is due in Batavia Town Court at 1 p.m. on Jan. 30. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Krzemien, assisted by Deputy David Moore.

Marissa Nicole Lehto, 30, of Liberty Street, Batavia, is charged with grand larceny. She was arrested and is due to answer the charge today (Jan. 14) in Batavia City Court. She is accused of taking a wallet containing a credit card from a purse that did not belong to her at 6:10 p.m. on Jan. 27, 2019, on Main Street in Batavia. The case was investigated by Batavia Police Officer Stephen Quider, assisted by Officer Peter Flanagan.

David James Leroy, 27, of Gabbey Road, Pembroke, is charged with second-degree harassment. At 6:17 p.m. on Jan. 12 he was arrested on West Main Street Road in Batavia. Leroy allegedly responded to another person's place of employment in the Town of Batavia after being told to cease contact with that person. He was released on an appearance ticket for Jan. 16 in Town of Batavia Court. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy David Moore.

John Frederick Macintyre, 67, of Linwood Road, Le Roy, is charged with: driving while intoxicated; speed not reasonable and prudent; failure to keep right; and DWI with a BAC of .08 percent or more. He was arrested at 8:13 p.m. on Linwood Road in Le Roy after the investigation of a property damage accident. Macintyre was issued traffic tickets and is due in Le Roy Town Court on Feb. 4. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jared Swimline, assisted by Deputy Andrew Mullen.

Michael Todd Swiatowy, 48, of Hartshorn Road, Batavia, is charged with driving while intoxicated and refusal to take a breath test. Following an investigation at the scene of a domestic incident, Swiatowy was arrested and arraigned in Batavia City Court. He is due to return to court on Feb. 18. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Brock Cummins, assisted by Deputy James Stack.

Michael Andrew Coleman, 44, of Post Avenue, Rochester, is charged with third-degree bail jumping and aggravated unlicensed operation in the second degree. At 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 11, Coleman was turned over to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office by Monroe County County deputies. He was arrested for having an outstanding arrest and bench warrant out of Town of Alabama Court, where he was arraigned then released on his own recognizance. Coleman is due there again on Jan. 15. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jordan Alejandro.

January 14, 2020 - 11:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, notify, chris collins, NY-27.


The man who proclaimed his innocence for months, even while running for re-election to Congress, only to eventually plead guilty to insider trading charges, should spend up to five years in prison, according to his prosecutors.

The Washington Post reports that Manhatten U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman is asking a judge to send Chris Collins, now residing in Florida, to federal prison for an extended sentence "to promote respect for the law" and "to provide just punishment."

Collins will be sentenced on Friday.

The former NY-27 representative got into trouble after regulators realized his son Cameron Collins dumped more than $700,000 in stock in an Australian company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, just before news went public of a failed clinical trial.

Cameron's now-former future father-in-law also engaged in a sell-off of the stock at the same time.

An investigation by the FBI revealed that Chris Collins, the first congressman to endorse Donald Trump for president, called Cameron from the White House lawn minutes after receiving news of the failed trial from the company CEO. Chris Collins was one of the company's largest shareholders and served on the board of directors.

Collins later lied to the FBI about his involvement in the insider trading scheme.

After campaigning with a promise that he would be fully exonerated, and refusing public appearances and interview requests throughout much of the 27th District, the multimillionaire pled guilty in Federal Court in September.

Both Cameron and Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron's one-time fiancée, have also entered guilty pleas.

In a prior court filing, attorneys for Chris Collins pleaded for leniency from the judge, stating Collins “has paid a heavy price for his crimes. He is, and will forever be, tortured with the knowledge that his actions have caused his son, to whom he always aspired to be a role model, to live with the stain of a felony conviction, and perhaps serve time in prison."

Berman doesn't think Collins has had paid a sufficient price for his crimes.

“As a member of Congress at the time that he committed the offenses in this case … Collins was better situated than almost anyone else to understand the societal importance of following the law,” the prosecutor said his filing. "Collins came to embody the cynical idea that those in power who make the laws are not required to follow them.”

Photo: File photo of Chris Collins and his wife, Mary Sue, at an August 2018 press conference in Buffalo where Collins proclaimed his innocence following his arrest in New York City and then refused to take questions from reporters.

January 14, 2020 - 12:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, news, notify, accident, video.
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The driver of a 2019 Chrysler 300 who died after the driver's side of the car slammed into a tree at 10616 Main Road, Alexander, at 4:21 p.m. has been identified as Cleveland D. Johnson, 22, of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.

Johnson fled from police following a traffic stop by Warsaw PD in the Village of Warsaw. The officer lost sight of the vehicle before it reached Varysburg.  At Varysburg, witnesses informed the officer that the car had headed north on Route 98.

An Attica PD officer spotted the car on Route 98 but cut off the pursuit because of the vehicle's high rate of speed. The white sedan proceeded north into the Village of Alexander where the driver lost control of the car and it slid sideways into the tree.

Two occupants in the car suffered serious physical injuries. They are Clyde A. Frazier, 24, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Desarae N. Steriotis, 33, of Philadelphia. Fraizer was transported by Mercy Flight to Strong and Steriotis was transported to ECMC by Mercy Flight.

The accident remains under investigation and investigators have yet to determine why Johnson fled from police.

Assisting at the scene were the Alexander Volunteer Fire Department, Attica Fire Department, Bethany Fire Department, Mercy EMS, Wyoming County Sheriff's Office, Attica PD, and State Police.  

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January 13, 2020 - 4:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, news, accident, notify.

A car has reportedly hit a utility pole in the area of 10612 Main Road, Alexander.

Multiple injuries reported. 

Extrication required.

Crash management requested to the scene.

Alexander fire and ambulance, along with Mercy EMS and a Bethany ambulance requested to the scene.

UPDATE(S) (By Billie) 4:50 p.m.: The vehicle is a white sedan that is wrapped around a tree -- not a utility pole -- on the driver's side. Mercy Flight #8 just landed at the crash site. National Grid is informed about a nearby damaged pole. Town of Batavia fire is on standby.

UPDATE 4:55 p.m.: The vehicle was northbound in Wyoming County when Genesee County law enforcement was notified about a pursuit by officers in Wyoming County for reasons not announced by dispatchers. A few moments later, this crash occurred.

UPDATE 5:18 p.m.: Mercy Flight is airborne en route to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester with one patient.

UPDATE 5:32 p.m.: A source at the scene says three people were in the vehicle that crashed. One of them died. Two others were transported to hospitals with serious physical injuries.

UPDATE 5:40 p.m.: The chase of the vehicle was started by Warsaw Police Department for unknown reasons. According to Village of Attica Police Chief Dean Hendershott, the chase was called off by Warsaw after their officer lost sight of the vehicle. Bystanders in Varysburg flagged down a law enforcement officer to report the vehicle being pursued was heading north on Route 98, Hendershott said. South of the Village of Attica, an Attica police officer spotted the sedan and pulled in behind it, prompting the driver to speed away. A pursuit ensued and the renegade car passed other vehicles and ran red lights. The pursuing Attica officer lost sight of the car; then it was spotted wrapped around the tree in Alexander.

UPDATE 5:50 p.m.: Both surviving patients sustained life-threatening injuries and a second Mercy Flight helicopter was dispatched and it took a female patient to Erie County Medical Center. The vehicle was a rental, said Genesee County Sheriff's Sgt. Andrew Hale, and authorities do not yet know who the occupants were or where they came from.

UPDATE 6:15 p.m.: The chase began in the Village of Warsaw after police stopped the car for a traffic violation. Genesee County Sheriff's Sgt. Jason Saile said the driver lost control of the vehicle well before striking the tree, based on the very long skid marks on the roadway in Alexander.

Photo submitted by reader Christopher Desautels.

January 13, 2020 - 10:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in District Attorney's Office, kevin finnell, news, notify.

Press release from District Attorney Lawrence Friedman:

"I am very pleased to announce that longtime Assistant District Attorney Kevin T. Finnell is being promoted to the position of First Assistant District Attorney. Mr. Finnell is a highly experienced prosecuting attorney, having served more than 29 years with this office. ADA Finnell is a very knowledgeable, motivated public servant, who consistently exercises appropriate judgment in the prosecution of criminal cases.

"When longtime Bergen Town Justice Donald R. Kunego retired, his notice of retirement made mention of 'the outstanding professionalism of ADA Kevin Finnell.'

"In 2018 ADA Finnell received a Certificate of Appreciation in recognition 'for the highest level of professional assistance he has provided to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.' The Certificate stated that his 'professional skills and consistent high performance has been a major contributor to the overall effectiveness of the Sheriff's Office and the efforts of the Local Drug Task Force...Kevin T. Finnell has brought great credit upon himself and his chosen career as a Prosecutor.'

"Last Spring, based on nominations from the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, Mr. Finnell received the statewide MADD Law Enforcement Recognition Award and the Kiwanis Club of Batavia Criminal Justice Award. In endorsing the MADD nomination, I referred to ADA Finnell’s enthusiasm for the job, work ethic and advocacy skills.

"I am confident that Kevin Finnell will do a great job in his new role and that he is fully capable of running this office in my absence."

Previously: First District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini resigns suddenly

January 12, 2020 - 10:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, news, notify.


There are more than two dozen power outages reported in Genesee County following a night of strong winds that brought down trees and power lines and kept local fire crews responding to sparking and arcing lines throughout the night.

The largest outage is in the South Byron, Byron, and a bit into the Bergen area of the county with more than 800 National Grid customers without power. A work crew has just been assigned to that outage and power restoration is expected by 6 p.m.

There are six outages in the City of Batavia. The larges stretches along Ellicott Street from Jackson Street to Cedar Street and as far south as Jackson Primary School and north to about Florence Avenue. There are 547 customers without power in that outage. A crew has been assigned and power restoration is expected by 6 p.m.

There's an outage affecting 108 customers in the Naramore Drive area. A crew has not yet been assigned but power restoration expected by 6 p.m.

There are three other outages in the city affecting five customers are less.

There is an outage in the Town of Pembroke, west of Indian Falls, with 59 customers without power. No crew has been assigned. Power restoration is expected before 6 p.m.

There are two outages in Alabama. One affecting 16 customers the other 20. A crew has not been assigned. Power should be restored by 6 p.m.

On either side of Route 20 in Alexander and Bethany, along West Bethany Road and Molasses Hill Road, 58 customers are without power. No crew has been assigned and power restoration is expected by 6 p.m.

Residents in the area of Godfrey's pond, 42 customers, are without power. No crew assigned. Restoration by 6 p.m.

There's an area with 114 customers just west of Route 237 and mostly north of North Byron Road that is without power. No crew assigned. Restoration expected by 6 p.m.

Photos: Top three photos by Philip Casper of a tree down on Ellicott Avenue.



Below, reader-submitted photos. If you have weather-related photos to submit, email them to [email protected] or text (585) 260-6970.



January 10, 2020 - 3:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in District Attorney's Office, news, notify.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman is currently managing an office with five vacancies at a time when the workload has increased because of changes in state law around how evidence is handled but he said everything is under control.

As first reported by The Batavian last night, First Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini resigned, apparently without notice, yesterday. 

Last week, ADA Shirley Gorman announced her departure at the end of the month to take another job.  Meanwhile, Friedman is anticipating filling a new ADA position in 2020 plus a part-time ADA.

The new positions were authorized by the County Legislature for the 2020 budget to help the DA's office deal with the state's new rules reporting evidence disclosure to defendants. 

While in the budget, Friedman must get authorization to advertise the positions. He will make presentations to the Public Service Committee on Jan. 13, Ways and Means on Jan. 15, with a vote for the full Legislature coming on Jan. 22.

"It has proven to be a challenge to find good candidates for vacancies, not only in our office but in other law departments in Genesee county and in other counties," Friedman said.

One new ADA has already been selected and will begin work Jan. 27.

The current DA's staff: ADAs Kevin Finnell, Shirley Gorman, Kaitlynn Schmit, and Joseph Robinson. The support staff is made up of confidential secretary Lacie Snell, paralegal Gabrielle Montalbano, legal clerk-typist Katie Schrider, legal clerk-typist Rhonda Natalizia, and legal clerk-typist Andrea Agan.

As for hiring a new First ADA, Friedman said he will have an announcement about that "very soon."

The departure of Cianfrini, who was the heir apparent for the DA's job, won't affect Friedman's retirement plans he said. His term expires on Dec. 31, 2021. He said he has no comment on next year's DA election.

Friedman said even under current conditions, the current staff is getting the job done.

"We are dealing with the workload in the interim by constantly adapting, working extra hours and coming up with new ways to meet our deadlines," Friedman said. "I am very proud of every member of our dedicated and talented staff, who have all been constantly assuming new and challenging responsibilities relating to the unreasonable and ill-conceived Discovery obligations recently imposed on us by the State of New York.

"Everyone in this office is working under a great deal of pressure, yet keeping a positive attitude. We have a great team! While the State, as is typical, has foisted yet another unfunded mandate on us, the Genesee County Legislature, the County Manager, the Batavia City Council and the City Manager have educated themselves re: our needs and they have all been totally supportive of our office at this very difficult time."

Photo: Lawrence Friedman, 2011 file photo.

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January 10, 2020 - 2:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Krista Marie, news, music, arts, entertainment, notify.

As a songwriter herself, it really struck Krista Marie Oswald (nee Robusto) as another artist having a lightbulb moment when Gretchen Wilson told her how she came to write the song "Red Neck Woman."

"She said for her, she didn't understand why anybody would want to listen to her story," Oswald said during a phone interview today. "She's a girl from a tiny park in Illinois and nobody is going to listen to her story. She told me, that isn't the case."

Oswald is cohost of a new syndicated TV show, "The Song: Recorded Live at TGL Farms," which will air for the first time this Saturday in Rochester and Buffalo, that features songwriters and their songs and the stories behind the songs. It's filmed live at a farm she and her husband, producer Marc Oswald, own outside of Nashville. 

In an episode that will air near the end of season one, Wilson told Krista Oswald that her producer her told her that to be successful she needed to be true to who she is. "You've got to be 100 percent authentic to be true." 

It obviously paid off. "Redneck Woman" was the #1 country song in the nation in 2004.

Oswald is known professionally as Krista Marie. She's a singer and songwriter who grew up in Batavia. We last spoke with her in 2013 when the band she was with at the time, The Farm, played at Frostridge in Le Roy.

She's thrilled, she said, to get a chance to sit down and talk with so many great songwriters, such as  Big & Rich, Rick Springfield, Jim Messina, Travis Tritt, and Don McLean.

She's joined on the series by cohost Damien Horne, who interviews CeeLo Green in the first episode (embedded above).

"Obviously, what's exciting to me about the show is personally, and as a songwriter, is getting to speak with these iconic artists and hear their take on what their creations meant and how they put it out there," Oswald said. "It's really interesting. CeeLo Green said in the first episode how it only takes one song to change history, to change music history, and that was a real moment for me."

There are other moments in the series, she said, such as Rick Springfield revealing that he didn't think much of his biggest hit, "Jesse's Girl," when he first wrote it. "It was just a little ditty," he told her.

"Honestly," she said Springfield said, "I feel like I've written better material but that just happened to breakthrough."

Jim Messina shared a similar story about his biggest hit with Loggins and Messina, "Your Mama Don't Dance."

He feels he's written better songs but like Wilson with "Redneck Woman," that song was born of his own conservative upbringing, making it true to life and, counterintuitively, more relatable to a popular audience.

The show also offers Oswald a chance to meet the songwriters who provided "the soundtrack" of her life, such as McLean, whose "American Pie" is perhaps the soundtrack of everybody's life. 

That song, of course, was released in 1971, long before Oswald was born but she said, "It was part of my growing up, part of my childhood."

The new TV series has other Batavia connections. Her mother, Barb Galliford, spent three weeks at TGL Farms helping landscape and paint "The Song Garden," where the interviews are recorded. Genesee County residents Johnny Cummings and Sam Polizzi, who recently opened a recording studio in Rochester called Sound Notions, helped with the production and when Robusto and her husband weren't happy with original theme music for the show, Cummings and Polizzi wrote and recorded a new theme song in 24 hours.

As she spoke with The Batavian, Oswald was at the luggage carousel at the airport in Miami with her husband waiting for their baggage. Marc had given surprised Krista Marie with tickets for tonight's Billy Joel concert in Miami.

Krista Marie, known as a country music artist, said people are sometimes surprised that she loves Billy Joel but she said if you love music, you love all kinds of music (which comes across in the first episode of The Song with soul singer CeeLo talking about his range of influences that include Iggy Pop and The Clash). That's why she is optimistic The Song will be a hit. It's a show about a love for music that covers every taste and every generation of fandom.

"Today, with music being so accessible, with iTunes, iPhones, and YouTube, I'm finding everything is more accessible. My 12-year-old niece loves 'Piano Man' and 'American Pie' and Rick Springfield. There's more good music, more demos, and more generations, and I think that's great." 

And with a little luck, Oswald said, maybe next season she will get to interview Billy Joel.

Episode 1 of "The Song" airs on WNYO in Buffalo at 10 p.m. Saturday. We've not been able to confirm that time of the show on 13 WHAM.

You can find "The Song" on Social Media: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on the Web at thesong.tv.


Submitted photo: Damien Horne, Don McLean, and Krista Marie.


Krista Marie performing with The Farm in 2013 at Frostridge


Krista Marie and her mother, Barb Galliford, at Frostridge in 2013.

January 10, 2020 - 12:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia.
        Darius Jones

A plea deal is apparently in the works for a Rochester man facing drug and weapon charges.

Darius Lamar Jones, 27, who was listed as a resident of Dewey Avenue in Rochester when arrested in October, but was also listed as an Attica resident when arrested in August, was scheduled to appear in County Court yesterday for an evidentiary hearing in anticipation of a trial on his drug charges. But the hearing was waived after a conference in chambers between the attorneys and Judge Charles Zambito.

Jones was indicted in June by a grand jury on a count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a Class B felony.  

In December, he was indicted on a count of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, a Class C armed violent felony. It is alleged that on Oct. 2 in the City of Batavia that they possessed a loaded firearm, an Amadeo Rossi .38-caliber revolver.

On the drug charge, under bail reform, he was eligible for release yesterday. On the weapons charge, his bail will stand at $25,000 cash, $50,000 bond, or $100,000 partially secured bond; however, if Zambito released the bond posted on the drug charge and placed Jones on release on own recognizance for the drug charge, Jones would not have been eligible for time served on any eventual sentence. In that light, Zambito set bail on the drug charge at $1 so Jones retains credit for time served.

The terms of the possible plea arrangement were not discussed in court yesterday.

Jones will appear again at 1:30 p.m., Jan. 30.

January 10, 2020 - 12:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, crime, news, notify, pembroke.

Ambrose E. Robinson Jr., of Corwin Avenue, Rochester, is charged with speeding, driving while intoxicated and refusal to take a breath test. Robinson was arrested at 1:40 a.m. on Jan. 7 following a traffic stop on West Main Street in Batavia. He was arraigned in Batavia Town Court and released on his own recognizance. He is due in Batavia City Court on Jan. 16. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Stephen Cronmiller, assisted by Officer Peter Post.

Brad Lee Ohlson, 42, of Washington Avenue, Batavia, is charged with a probation violation. Ohlson was arrested at 5:18  p.m. on Jan. 9 on a bench warrant out of Batavia City Court for allegedly violating probation (unspecified) on Alleghany Road in Pembroke. He was arraigned in Batavia Town Court on the city court warrant. He is due in Batavia City Court on Jan. 16. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jared Swimline, assisted by Deputy Kenneth Quackenbush.

Brian N. Miles, 24, of Sixth Street, Rochester, was arrested by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office Jan. 7 on a bench warrant (unspecified) out of Batavia City Court. He was turned over to the custody of Batavia Police Department and arraigned in Batavia Town Court. He is due to be back in city court on Jan. 14. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Miah Stevens.

January 9, 2020 - 7:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Melissa Cianfrini, news, notify, District Attorney's Office.


District Attorney Lawrence Friedman issued a memo to members of the local legal community today announcing the immediate resignation of First District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini.

The Batavian obtained a copy of the memo this evening. It reads:

First Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini announced today that she has made the difficult decision to resign her position with the Genesee County District Attorney’s Office effective immediately and that she has other opportunities that she would like to pursue. I thank Melissa for her years of service and wish her well in the future.

Reached via text message, Friedman declined further comment.

We've attempted to make contact with Cianfrini and have yet to reach her.

Cianfrini, an Oakfield resident and wife of County Clerk Michael Cianfrini, joined the DA's office in 2009. She was promoted to first district attorney in 2017. With Friedman planning to retire at the end of his current term, she appeared, before today's resignation, to be his likely heir apparent.

Her resignation comes at a time when the DA's office is adjusting to an increased caseload, with additional staff, because of new, more rigorous, discovery rules in New York. The new rules require the office to turn over more evidence to defense attorneys in a more timely manner.

Photo: File photo.

January 8, 2020 - 11:12am
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Le Roy, darien center.

Alexander Daniel Neu, 18, of Dubonnet Drive, Depew, is charged with third-degree assault. Neu was arrested for allegedly striking a victim in the face at the Wiz Khalifa concert at 7 p.m. on July 21 at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, causing physical injury to the victim. He is due to be arraigned in Darien Town Court at 4 p.m. on Jan. 14. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Investigator/Youth Officer Timothy G. Wescott, assisted by Investigator Howard Carlson.

Joshua C. Pesci, 25, of Broadway Avenue, Alden, is charged with: two counts of driving while intoxicated; failure to use designated lane; driving on the sidewalk; unreasonable speed. Pesci was arrested Jan. 3 on South Main Street in Batavia following a property damage accident at 2:05 a.m. He was issued appearance tickets and is due in Batavia City Court on Jan. 22. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Jordan McGinnis, assisted by Officer Peter Post.

Nathan E. Hinze, 26, of Clifton Avenue, Batavia, is charged with driving while intoxicated and aggravated DWI. Hinze was arrested after a property damage accident on East Avenue in Batavia on Jan. 4 wherein he allegedly damaged a telephone pole with his vehicle. Hinze and his vehicle were located at 2:19 a.m. at a residence on Farwell Avenue. He was released on an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on Jan. 22. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Sean Wilson, assisted by Officer Marc Lawrence.

William J. Haight, 31, no permanent address, is charged with criminal mischief in the fourth degree and unlawful imprisonment in the second degree. Haight was arrested following a omestic incident at 12:07 a.m. on Jan. 6 on Jackson Street in Batavia. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and is there again on Jan. 14. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Adam Tucker, assisted by Officer Peter Post.

Michael A. Ames, 27, of Le Roy, was arrested by Wyoming County Sheriff's Deputy Nowak on Jan. 3 for failure to pay a fine levied in Wyoming County. Nowak was notified by the Batavia Police Department that Ames was in custody on an active Superior Court Arrest Warrant. Deputies from Wyoming County met with Batavia PD and gained custody of the defendant and he was transported to Wyoming County Jail for commitment. He was due in Wyoming County Court on Jan. 6.

January 7, 2020 - 11:16am
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, bergen, notify.

A man who lives on Liberty Street in Batavia was arrested in the early morning hours Monday after a traffic stop in Bergen turned into a pursuit.

Edward George Ruckdeschel (inset photo), 57, was stopped by Genesee County Sheriff's deputies at 5:04 a.m. in the 7900 block of Clinton Street Road (Route 33).

He allegedly stole a vehicle from a residence in Orleans County. According to the Sheriff's Office, he led deputies on a vehicle pursuit, then a foot pursuit, which ended in the Town of Wheatland, Monroe County.

Ruckdeschel is being charged with: criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree -- a motor vehicle; second-degree obstruction of governmental administration; aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree; unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle; unregistered motor vehicle; failure to yield right of way when entering a roadway; no or inadequate head lamp; side windows non-transparent; and unauthorized stickers.

The defendant was issued appearance tickets and is due in Town of Bergen Court at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 15.

The case was handled by Deputy Jordan Alejandro.

January 6, 2020 - 12:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in economics, economy, news, notify.


At $821, the average weekly earnings of a Genesee County resident is on the lower end of wages paid in New York and well below the national average of $1,095 and the New York State average of $1,347.

It's also lower than the other GLOW counties: Livingston, $859; Orleans, $891; Wyoming, $885.

Downstate counties and Albany are where the state's highest wage earners are, of course, with New York City workers earning $2,109 per week on average.

Erie County's average is $986. Monroe County is $1,009.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (a federal agency), "Forty-two of New York’s 44 counties with employment below 75,000 had average weekly wages below the national average of $1,095. Steuben ($1,127) and Schenectady ($1,115) were the exceptions. Yates and Hamilton counties reported the lowest average weekly wages at $690 and $691, respectively."

January 6, 2020 - 11:09am
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Stafford.

Leah R.H. Kelly, 35, of Jackson Street, Batavia, is charged with: menacing with a weapon; criminal possession of a weapon; and endangering the welfare of a child. Kelly was arrested following an investigation into a domestic incident which occurred at 1:26 p.m. on Dec. 12 on Jackson Street. The defendant is accused of using a knife unlawfully against another person or persons. Kelly was issued a computer-generated appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on Jan. 14. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Peter Flanagan.

Michael Abdellah Jamil, 35, of Hart Street, Batavia, is charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief. Jamil was arrested after allegedly damaging property at Williams Park on Pearl Street in Batavia at 1:45 p.m. on Sept. 30. He was issued an appearance ticket for Jan. 14 in Batavia City Court. The case was handled by Batavia Police Sgt. Christopher Camp.

Cheyne A. Hoerner, 35, of Chapel Street, Lockport, is charged with driving while intoxicated with a BAC of .08 percent or more, and DWI. At 12:04 a.m. on Dec. 29 on Clinton Street Road (Route 33) in Stafford, Hoerner was arrested on the charges following a dangerous condition complaint. It was reported that a rim on motor vehicle was creating sparks while the vehicle was being driven. Hoerner was released on appearance tickets and is due in Stafford Town Court on Jan. 14. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Nicholas Chamoun.

Thomas William McCabe, 42, of East Avenue, Attica, is charged with petit larceny. At 8:27 p.m. on  Jan. 1, deputies responded to Kohl's Department Store on Veterans Memorial Drive following a larceny complaint. Following an investigation, McCabe was arrested. He allegedly stole clothing from the store. He was issued an appearance ticket for Town of Batavia Court and is due there on Jan. 16. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Erik Andre, assisted by Deputy Joshua Brabon.

January 4, 2020 - 5:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, Horseshoe Lake, video, news, notify.
Video Sponsor

At about 1:30 p.m. today a Stafford resident thought he saw a dog fall through the ice at Horseshoe Lake and after the dog didn't reemerge from the water, he called emergency dispatch.

Stafford fire along with the water rescue team from City of Batavia fire responded but the prospects appeared grim. The dog was nowhere to be seen, there was no motion in the area where the dog reportedly went in, and 15 minutes may have already passed.

Still, the water rescue team went about its task of inflating its boats and slipping into cold water gear.

Then a call came over the radio, "tell them not to go into the water yet."

A second later, a deputy received a phone call, "It's not a dog?" he said to the person who called him.

It turns out, another resident has been aware of what was going on all along but wasn't aware emergency crews had been dispatched. Mike Mullen, a retired City firefighter, had seen the animal out on the frozen lake and spied it through his binoculars. His wife grabbed her camera and a long lens and took pictures. It was an otter eating a fish.

Every once in a while, the otter would dive back in the water with its giant catch of the day and then come back up on the ice to surface to feast some more.

"Without binoculars, it would look like a dog struggling," Mullen said.

When his wife had to leave the house a short time later, she spotted the police and fire response and Mullen came out with the camera, with its LCD screen on the back to show the pictures, and let everybody know, "it's just an otter."

(Initial Post) (Mobile App users, click here to view the video)

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