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May 4, 2019 - 2:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, batavia, news, notify.


A memorial for Sgt. Duane Arthur Downey, who died March 18, was held at Elmwood Cemetery this afternoon.

Downey, a former Batavia resident, was active duty in the Army Airborne from 1968 to 1970 and in Vietnam for six months in 1970. He was awarded Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, M-16 Rifle Sharpshooter Badge.

He earned his Bachelors of Arts degree in Photography from Rochester School of Technology and worked for Kodak and most recently lived in Bethlehem, Ga. 







May 4, 2019 - 11:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Eat Well Grill, freshLAB, batavia, Eli Fish Brewing, news, notify.


When Matt Gray and Jon Mager first conceived of FreshLab, the restaurant incubator inside Eli Fish Brewing Company, they envisioned providing a kitchen space for aspiring restaurateurs  who had food service experience, experience in food prep, industry knowledge, and a creative idea they wanted to try on a small scale before moving into launching a restaurant.

That's exactly what FreshLab is getting, Gray told the Batavia Development Corp. board Friday morning, with John and Jill Kratz, who are opening Eat Well Grill in June in the vacant space at FreshLab.

John is the long-time general manager of Bob Evans and Jill works at St. Joseph School but has also been running a food preparation business on the weekends using the kitchen at the YWCA.

Eat Well Grill will provide salads and bowls similar to what Jill has been preparing for her business Commit to Well, with proteins from beef, chicken, and shrimp to go with whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.

It's a paleo diet. While it's healthy for everyone, it will be especially good for people with dietary problems, John and Jill deal with in their own family, which is how they got involved with creating the recipes for their dishes in the first place.

"There are a lot of great food options in the community but we think what is missing is something that is nutritionally sustainable," John said. "What we're looking to provide is something in the framework of sustainability."

As much as possible, ingredients will be locally sourced, John said.

Commit to Well has a strong customer base already and the Eat Well Grill will fill a need for those customers by providing meals when they're needed.

"I know a lot of my customers like the meal prep service but sometimes they forget to order and they're calling me at the end of the weekend to see if there is anything left over," Jill said. "They need something at lunch or at the end of the day and they're not thinking ahead because we're all very busy."

A walk-in and order grill is just what those customers need, she said.

John said, and Matt confirmed, demand for meals that fit this nutritional value is a growing trend across the country and in larger urban areas, including Buffalo and Rochester, it's increasingly common.

Examples from the menu: 

  • The Greek, a salad with romaine and kale, quinoa, grilled chicken, cucumber, tomato, olives, and feta cheese;
  • Caveman Cobb, a salad with romaine and arugula, napa cabbage, cucumber, tomato, corn, red onion, steak, and walnuts;
  • Green Goddess, a salad with arugula, spinach, romaine, cucumber, hard-boiled egg, bacon, and grilled chicken;
  • Spicy Shrimp, a bowl with rice, napa cabbage, arugula, carrots, tomato, grilled shrimp, sriracha sauce, and green onion;
  • Happy Garden, a bowl with rice, romaine, carrots, tomato, cucumber, broccoli, beets, and grilled chicken;
  • Good Harvest, a bowl with quinoa, spinach, arugula, beets, red onion, feta cheese, grilled chicken, and walnuts.

Gray said the Eat Well Grill will be a great match at FreshLab with Eden Cafe and provide customers a good alternative to the Eli Fish menu.

The BDC board approved Eat Well Grill for a small business loan for $25,000 from the BDC's revolving loan fund.  

The grill will employ two or three people. John will work at the grill full-time and Jill will continue to work at St. Joe's while running the meal-prep business out of the YWCA kitchen on weekends until the business grows enough to move into a single, larger space.

Photo courtesy FreshLab.

May 3, 2019 - 4:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in farm bill, agriculture, news, notify, Sen. Jessica Ramos.


As odd as it might seem to most Western New Yorkers, Sen. Rob Ortt told a group of farmers, farmworkers, and farm supporters gathered for a roundtable discussion at Batavia City Hall on Thursday, stopping the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act from destroying Upstate farms may come down to the reasonableness of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"His signature will have to be on this bill and then it will be his bill," Ortt said. "He will be the one with the legacy of what this bill will do to the largest business sector in the state. I think that will give him pause. I know in the past not many of us have thought of him as the voice of reason in Albany but as unusual as it might be, that might just be the case (with the farm labor bill)."

Assemblyman Steve Hawley said the idea of Cuomo doing the right thing for Upstate residents isn't as far-fetched as it sounds. He pointed to the recent fight over providing college benefits to Gold Star families. When Assembly Democrats rejected the proposal, Cuomo found a way to shift funds and get it done, Hawley said.

"The guy who is purportedly governor of the entire state and represents all of us could just be the key to all of this," Hawley said.

Ortt convened the roundtable to discuss the farm labor bill, he said, because Western New York farmers are not being heard by members of the Legislature because there are no hearings being held in this part of the state.

The bill, if passed, would give farmworkers the right to join labor unions, establish an eight-hour workday and a 40-hour work week, establish regulations for housing, and establish rules for workers' compensation.

Area farmers say the changes to the law would devastate them. Area farmworkers say the bill would diminish their incomes. Both say a 40-hour work week, in particular, would mean H2A workers, who can work anywhere in the nation, would stop coming to New York.

The Senate sponsor of the bill is Sen. Jessica Ramos, a first-termer from Queens who now chairs the Senate Labor Committee. Ramos visited Genesee County a couple of weeks ago and met with farmers and farmworkers in a meeting room at Genesee Community College and then at a Torrey Farms facility in Elba, where 350 farmworkers were on hand to talk with her. Both events were supposed to be closed to the press but The Batavian was at the event at Torrey Farms (see story and video here).

Sen. Michael Ranzehofer, who hosted the visit, said that while most of the conversations were in Spanish, to an individual, old, young, men, women, there was a consistent theme: the workers don't want to be restricted to only 40 hours a week.

That's a message that didn't seem to sway Ramos, Ranzenhofer indicated.

In a recent article, Ramos (who canceled a scheduled interview with The Batavian and has not rescheduled it) told the Queens Eagle that arguments that New York farmers would not be able to compete in the global market place of commodities if the bill passes are unpersuasive. 

“Farmers understand that there’s merit in treating their workers well, but of course like everything else there are great employers and there are very poor employers,” Ramos told the Eagle. “This bill is really about codifying rights that exist for every other worker in New York.”

Ramos cited her own experience in her parents native country of Colombia for supporting the bill.

“Farming is not foreign to me. When I’d go to Colombia as a little girl, I spent a lot of time picking coffee,” she said, adding that she has long advocated for labor rights. “That’s the reason I’m there. I’m not trying to do this from a perch down in Queens. I really honestly care to understand everyone’s perspective.”

Sen. Chris Jacobs observed that Ramos, "seems very set in her ways."

For local farmers, who represent them, however, Ramos, and Cathy Nolan, who is carrying the bill in the Assembly, are two out-of-touch Downstate legislators who have no farms, farmers, or farmworkers in their districts and have no business crafting agriculture policy.

"We've got to realize that we're less than 1 percent of the population in New York," said Kim Zuber, representing Monroe County Farm Bureau. "People don't really understand what we do and they don't understand the cost of doing business."

A couple of the farmers pointed out that they already comply with some provisions of the bill, especially when it comes to housing. Most farmers provide housing, including paid utilities, for their migrant workers. If their workers have an H2A visa, the Health Department regularly inspects farmworker housing and the farmers are held to pretty high standards.

"I just took my son to his new apartment in Buffalo," said one farmer, "and as I looked at it, I found at least a half dozen violations. I'm not saying it was a bad place, but an H2A worker would never be allowed in that house and I'm not exaggerating."

Sen. Rich Funke was pretty blunt.

"This is the single greatest attack on Upstate New York by Downstate politicians since I’ve been in office," Funke said.

In an interview after the meeting, Ortt expanded on his thoughts about the potential role Cuomo might have in protecting farmers and farmworkers from this legislation. He noted that, whether you support the effort or not, Cuomo has invested heavily in Western New York economic development. He clearly wants economic development in Upstate to be his lasting legacy and this bill, with its potential to devastate the Upstate economy, could undo all of the governor's efforts to bring industry back to Upstate.

"If all of the prognostications are true, this bill will kill the Upstate economy," Ortt said. "Does he want, after all the money and all the press and all the trips Upstate, for that to be his legacy? You know how it goes, everybody remembers the governor. The senators and the assemblymen come and go, but the governor is the one people remember when it comes to these long-term impacts. Does he want people to remember that it was the Cuomo administration and Governor Cuomo who signed this bill into law?

We asked Ortt if Ramos, given her attempts to avoid the media on her trip here and her unwillingness to answer questions about her bill, is really an honest broker with this legislation?

"Well, anytime you say 'no press' on a bill this big, it begs the question, 'why?' " Ortt said. "Why the secrecy? I mean, truthfully, what is she afraid of? To me, that's a red flag right there. Why no press? But I think what's also interesting is that at the first hearing in Morrisville she was there two hours late and left an hour early. So how much is she really listening?

As for the bill itself, we asked about the right for farmworkers to collectively bargain, especially given Ortt's statement earlier in the evening suggesting some sort of compromise could be reached on the bill. The Constitution guarantees the right to assembly, the right to free association, so shouldn't workers have the right to form unions?

"No one actually objects to their right to organize or collectively bargain," Ortt said. "Now that's coming from farmers. They told me that is not their objection, it's (that) we're also setting the conditions that might be negotiable and we're setting them in state law. For the farmer, he's saying, 'Well, not only are you allowing them to collectively bargain but then you're also setting several parameters that might be negotiable and you're taking that off the table because you're putting it in state law."

The main objection farmers have to the bill, Ortt said, is the eight-hour workday and 40-hour work week.

"To be competitive, you can't limit yourself to an eight-hour day," Ortt said. "The overtime really affects your bottom line. So they're saying maybe 60 hours for the hourly, and anything over 60 or 65 then you could do time and a half, and don't set a daily limit. Maybe those are points of negotiation. I don't know and I hate to negotiate against myself.

"If Senator Ramos or Senator Metzger or whomever, if they're willing to make a movement that's great, we can have a conversation," Ortt added later. "I haven't seen as of yet a sign that they're willing to make any move. So, you know, as the old saying goes, you know, 'don't negotiate against yourself.' "



May 3, 2019 - 2:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify, antwan odom, ray leach.

A defense attorney for Antwan Odom, the Batavia High School athlete accused of cutting Ray Leach with a knife during an apparent argument Aug. 4, will file a motion in advance of a trial later this year that will allow him to call into question Leach's character.

Odom today turned down a plea offer that could have meant no jail time, seemingly on the advice of his attorney, Frank Housh, of Buffalo, because Housh didn't feel there was enough of a guarantee from the court that Odom could be adjudicated a youthful offender and avoid a prison term.

Outside of court, Housh said his client didn't commit a crime, that he acted in self-defense, and that as part of a self-defense claim, he should be able to submit evidence that supports his claim, including the character of the alleged victim.

"The fact that Ray Leach is known in the community to be a violent person, to be a confrontational person, who confronted (Odom) -- by the prosecution's own admission -- he was the first aggressor," Housh said. "He went to my client's house and called him out and beat him into unconsciousness.

"So, under those circumstances, to say, when the prosecution is admitting that he was the first aggressor, to say that his history of violence and intimidation is irrelevant is simply absurd. We should be able to bring that up because it goes to the circumstance of his justification."

Housh may also seek a change of venue. Given Leach's status as a star athlete, one of the most recognized athletes in the region, Housh said he isn't sure an impartial jury could be impaneled in Genesee County.

A change of venue motion isn't certain, Housh said. He will need to research it further.

He said a request for a change of venue is unrelated to a bit of a conflict in court today over the terms of a potential plea agreement and what Judge Charles Zambito's role is in guaranteeing any particular sentencing outcome.

Odom is charged with assault in the first degree, a Class B felony with a minimum sentence of five years in prison and up to 25 years in prison. District Attorney Lawrence Friedman's offer was for Odom to plead guilty to second-degree assault, a Class D felony. The plea, Friedman said, would be unconditional and expose Odom to a potential maximum prison term of seven years.

However, Odom would also then be eligible for a probationary sentence and youthful offender status, which would seal his criminal record.

Housh said in court today that in 25 years of practicing criminal law, including 10 working as a prosecutor, he had never come across a court where he couldn't get a promise from a judge on sentencing perimeters. 

His interpretation of his conversation with Friedman was that he couldn't even ask Zambito to promise probation and youth offender adjudication and that even to discuss the possibility with the judge would violate the terms of the plea offer.

"Never have I seen a scenario where the separation of powers has been so different, whereby the prosecutor decides what sentencing perimaters and what protocols the judge will follow," Housh said. 

Friedman rolled his eyes.

He said Housh was mischaracterizing their conversation and that an unconditional plea offer is just that -- there are no preconditions on sentencing. It would be up to the judge to decide on the day of sentencing what the appropriate sentence should be.

If the judge makes promises about sentencing at the time of the plea then it is no longer an unconditional plea, Friedman said.

"If the defendant wants the range of sentencing with a D felony instead of a B, then take the plea," Friedman said. "If not, then don't take the plea."

Zambito told Housh it is his practice to never promise anything less than the statutory limit. He wants to see the presentence report and hear the arguments of the attorneys before reaching a decision on an appropriate sentence.

"This court has been doing it this way for as long as I can remember," Zambito said. "It's not just me and it's not just Mr. Friedman."

The attorneys then met with Zambito in chambers and then Housh met with his client. When the court reconvened the case, Housh informed the court that his client was rejecting the plea offer and he asked for time, before setting a trial date, to file motions and have those motions heard. He has 30 days to file his motions. A hearing on the motions is set for 2 p.m., July 2.

May 2, 2019 - 5:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in law day, GCC, Gary Craig, news, notify.


While everybody has their own view of what justice looks like, Gary Craig, an investigative reporter for the Democrat and Chronicle recalled a 20-year-old story at Genesee Community College on Wednesday night that illustrated what justice looks like to him.

Craig was the keynote speaker for the Paralegal Honor Society at their second annual Law Day observance.

The theme of Law Day this year is "Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society" and but Craig said he wanted to talk about justice.

He recalled the case of Betty Tyson, who was wrongfully convicted in the 1973 of murder. 

A traveling businessman visiting Rochester had been killed and police investigators decided Tyson did it.

Tyson always maintained that her confusion had been beat out of her. Two witnesses, cross-dressing teens, testified against her and said they witnessed the murder. There was no physical evidence. In fact, tire tracks at the scene did not match Tyson's car.

The investigator was eventually convicted in another case of beating a suspect.

In 1996, a source pointed Craig to one of the young men who had testified against Tyson. Over several months, Craig won the man's trust and the man eventually admitted, for publication, that he lied on the stand.

During his investigation, Craig also found a sworn statement by a visiting nurse that hadn't previously been made public. The nurse had visited Tyson shortly after her arrest and reported that she was covered with cuts and bruises.

An attorney, Jon Getz, read Craig's stories and agreed to represent Tyson at no charge to the family (after, Craig said, several other attorneys had taken advantage of the Tyson family). He filed a motion to overturn the conviction based on new evidence.

During preparation for the case, the District Attorney's office found a previously undisclosed statement from the other teen witness taken immediately after the murder. That teen, who was dead by 1996, said initially, that he saw nothing. In 1973, that statement hadn't even been disclosed to the prosecutor. The teen, of course, later changed his testimony, and apparently because he had been intimidated, as a cross-dressing teen in the 1970s, by the investigator.

This was a high-profile, politically charged case, Craig said. The DA, the judge, all had ample reason to not share the new discovery with the defense. The judge could easily have ruled differently. 

He didn't.

Craig was in court when the judge handed down his decision.

"I get emotional talking because I have such respect for the system," Craig said. "In that moment, in that courtroom, I literally had chills because I felt that I was watching this pure definition of justice, unadulterated justice right in front of me, where everybody was seeking to do what they should do, what you would hope they would do all the time, and most people do.

"But there was this harmonic convergence, to use an old term, in that courtroom where I felt in my heart that, 'wow, you know I'm really beholding something. I'm watching something special right now.' "

Craig is author of the 2017 book "Seven Million: A Cop, a Priest, a Soldier for the IRA, and the Still-Unsolved Rochester Brink's Heist."

May 2, 2019 - 5:29pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, alexander.

Lisa Lynn Lyons, 42, of Alexander Road, Attica, is charged with two counts of misconduct in relation to petitions, a violation of NYS Election Law (ELN 17-122, #6). It is alleged that the defendant subscribed as a witness to a petition on April 1 for the designation of herself as the Republican candidate for the upcoming Town Clerk of Alexander position. It is alleged that she did not witness all signatures of the filed petition, thereby making a false statement or false affidavit. Lyons, who is the incumbent Town of Alexander Clerk and Tax Collector (her term expires Dec. 31), was issued an appearance ticket for the charges and is due in Batavia City Court at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Sgt. James Diehl.

Devin A. Hill, 18, of Rochester, is the alleged driver a pickup truck that was seen leaving the Batavia Cycle Center, located at 4988 E. Main Street Road in the Town of Batavia, hauling a trailer at 2:15 a.m. this morning (May 2). His passenger was Angel I. Carrasquillo, 43, of Rochester, who was later located walking in the area of Route 33 and Warner Road. The men were arrested after the Genesee County Sheriff's deputies were called to a suspicious condition at the cycle center. The pickup truck and trailer were stopped a short time later on Route 33 in the area of Coward Road after a call by deputies. Two go-karts and one three-wheeler were on the trailer being towed and they were determined to be stolen from Batavia Cycle Center. Both men are charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree burglary, and fourth degree criminal mischief. Following their arraignments in Town of Batavia Court, Hill was jailed in lieu of $10,000 bail and Carrasquillo was jailed without bail. The case is being investigated by GC Sheriff's Deputy Mullen, Deputy Andre, Sgt. Biaocco, Sgt. Sanfratello, Investigator Parker and Investigator Minuto. Also assisting were members of the Batavia PD, NYSP, and Environmental Conservation Officer Fay Fuerch.

Jacob John Sponaugle, 20, of Liberty Street, Batavia, is charged with: introduction of prison contraband into prison in the frist degree; fourth-degree criminal facilitation; fifth-degree conspiracy; and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. It is alleged that Sponaugle conspired with others to smuggle contraband items into the jail. Following an investigation of contraband smuggling in the GC Jail on Jan. 19, Sponaugle was arrested on April 30. After arraignment in Batavia City Court, the defendant was jailed on $2,500 cash bail or $5,000 bond. He was due back in city court May 1. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy McClellan.

Mark Daniel Caufield, 25, of Fisher Road, Rochester, is charged with: criminal possession of marijuana in the fifth degree -- more than 25 grams; aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree; operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs -- first offense; and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia in the second degree. At 4:07 p.m. on April 21, Caufield was arrested on Clinton Street Road in Batavia following a traffic offense complaint. He was arraigned in Town of Batavia Court and is due there again on May 20. He was jailed on $2,500 cash or bond. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy McClellan, assisted by Deputy Travis DeMuth.

May 2, 2019 - 4:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.


     Rashawn Gosier

A 40-year-old Batavia resident who was originally accused of attempted murder for stabbing somebody at a home on Ellicott Street accepted a plea agreement today that will likely mean a five-year prison term.

Rashawn L. Gosier, formerly of Shady Lane, attempted to assault, 2nd, and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 5th.

Gosier was arrested in December after an incident at 337 Ellicott St. that led to a brief manhunt before Gosier was apprehended crawling out of the basement of that residence.

One person was transported to an area hospital that night but was apparently not seriously injured.

At the time of his arrest, Gosier was found in possession of 500 milligrams or more of cocaine.

Gosier is being held without bail pending his sentencing at 10:30 a.m., May 29.

Photo: File photo of Gosier's arrest.

May 2, 2019 - 4:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.


A 23-year-old man who is accused of setting his girlfriend and her apartment on Maple Street in Batavia on fire last June is mentally incapable of assisting in his own defense, Judge Charles Zambito ruled this afternoon.

Plush Dozier will be remanded to the Commissioner of Mental Health for treatment and then be reevaluated, Zambito ruled.

Dozier is charged with arson, 1st, and attempted murder.

Three psychiatrists examined Dozier and two of them found him capable of understanding the charges against him and recognizing the roles of the judge and attorneys in a court proceeding, but all three said he suffers from schizoaffective disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and is prone to paranoia and hallucinations.

Zambito noted that all three doctors described his disorders as fluid. In other words, he can slip from lucid to psychotic at any time. And while his disorders can be managed with treatment and medication, there is no record, Zambito said, that he is receiving or has received proper and appropriate treatment.

"Dr. Mitchell described his condition as a moving target," Zambito said. "All three doctors who evaluated him said he could snap at any time. This is consistent with the representations by his attorneys that at times he was lucid and could cope and at times he was not."

He added later, "All of them (the doctors) indicated or represented concerns that if not treated, his symptoms could very well become active and interfere with his ability to effectively assist in his own defense."

Zambito also noted that Dozier's disorders go back to his childhood.

"There is no indication that he is feigning anything or that he is a malingerer," Zambito said.

Dozier is currently represented by Thomas Burns, his third attorney. He is being held in Attica, and reportedly in solitary confinement despite his lack of a conviction in this case, because the Genesee County Jail and its staff is ill-equipped to deal with a person with Dozier's multiple disorders.

He was accused of menacing a police officer after an alleged violent incident while in local custody two months after his arrest.

At the start of today's hearing, Burns said he had met with his client and his client had asked to speak with the judge about his treatment, or alleged mistreatment, in Attica. He has raised this issue before and, as Burns noted, has been told by Zambito that the county court judge lacks jurisdiction to change where he is being held or affect the status of his custody. Still, Burns said, Dozier wished to raise the issue.

Zambito suggested that the court hear the testimony of Dr. Virginia Wohltmann, who examined Dozier in December, and that the court then take a recess so Burns could discuss the specifics of the situation at Attica with his client.

After Zambito heard two other cases, Burns and Dozier returned to the courtroom and Burns said his client had decided against putting anything on the record today about his treatment in Attica. At that point Zambito informed Burns and District Attorney Lawrence Friedman that he had finished reviewing the witnesses' testimony in the hearing (which was held in parts over different days) and was ready to render a decision.

Zambito then reviewed the testimony of the three doctors before stating that he found that while Dozier might be able to understand the proceedings, his fluid mental state would make it difficult for him to assist in his defense.

"This is not the end of the matter," Zambito said. "This is not the final verdict but based on the credible evidence presented in this court, I find the defendant at this time is an incapacitated person and remand him to the custody of the Commissioner of Mental Health for care and treatment for up to one year and then he will be reevaluated and brought back."

April 30, 2019 - 4:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, Grand Jury, batavia, Le Roy, bergen.

Todd M. Englerth is indicted for the crime of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a Class D felony. It is alleged that on Nov. 20 in the Town of Le Roy that Englerth knowingly possessed a dangerous knife or instrument -- metal knuckles, and he had previously been convicted of a crime. In count two he is accused of second-degree assault, a Class D violent felony, for allegedly intentionally trying to prevent a Le Roy police officer from performing a lawful duty and causing physical injury to the officer. In count three, he is accused of obstructing governmental administration in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged in count three that Englerth attempted to prevent a public servant from performing an official function by means of intimidation, physical force or interference. In count four, the defendant is accused of resisting arrest, a Class A misdemeanor. In count five, he is accused of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree, a Class C felony, for allegedly possessing cocaine weighing an 1/8th ounce or more.

Heyward Clark AKA Heywood Clark is indicted for the crime of third-degree burglary, a Class D felony. It is alleged that on Oct. 27, 2016 that Clark knowingly entered into a building on School Street in the City of Batavia with the intent to commit a crime. In count two, he is accused of petit larceny, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly stealing personal property and U.S. currency that day. In count three, he is accused of third-degree criminal mischief for allegedly damaging property belonging to another person that had a value of more than $250 -- a window. In count four, Clark is accused of another count of third-degree burglary for allegedly unlawfully entering a garage on Porter Avenue in the City of Batavia sometime between Oct. 27 and Oct. 31, 2016. In count five, he is accused of another count of petit larceny for allegedly stealing a circular saw and battery from a person after entering the garage. In count six, he is accused of fourth-degree criminal mischief, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly intentionally damaging another person's property at the garage -- a window.

Felix Cabrera-Lopez AKA Felix Cabrera is indicted for the crime of aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on March 6, 2018, on South Lake Street in the Town of Bergen that Cabrera-Lopez drove a 2001 Honda while his driver's license was suspended or revoked. He had in effect at the time 10 or more suspensions, imposed on at least 10 separate dates for failure to answer or pay a fine: Jan. 31, 2008; Dec. 31, 2011; Oct. 5, 2012; March 27, 2014; Oct. 16, 2014; Jan. 7, 2015; June 9, 2015; May 12, 2016; Sept. 10, 2016; July 25, 2017 -- all in Monroe County.

April 30, 2019 - 4:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in UMMC, news, notify, Oakfield.

A Middleport couple welcomed a new child into their family at 11:15 p.m. Monday in an ambulance somewhere between Lewiston Road in Oakfield and North Street in Batavia. 

Betty Lee Bruning is doing well after the unusual arrival in the world of a baby weighing 8 pounds and 13 ounces, according to Stacey Pastuszynski for UMMC.

Emergency dispatchers received a call of a woman in labor in a car at the side of the road at 7616 Lewiston Road, Oakfield shortly after 11 p.m. A deputy and a trooper along with a Mercy EMS ambulance and Oakfield fire arrived within minutes. 

Jenna Roberts Bruning was placed in the ambulance while still in labor and gave birth a short time later.

Betty is the fourth child for Gabe and Jenna Roberts Bruning. 

Their newborn daughter will grow up on the family farm in Middleport.

(Initial Report)

April 29, 2019 - 3:48pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, crime, notify, Oakfield, batavia, Le Roy, byron, pembroke.

A 16 year old was the second person arrested by the Le Roy Police Department relating to a residential burglary in the Village which occurred on March 4. The identity of the 16 year old, who was arrested on April 23, is being withheld as the arrest now falls under the New York State Raise the Age Laws. The 16 year old was charged with one count each of burglary in the second degree and fourth-degree grand larceny, both felonies. It is alleged that the 16 year old unlawfully entered a residence in the Village of Le Roy, while the tenants were away, and stole items worth more than $1,000. The first person arrested for this crime was 19-year-old Sylvan Grayson on March 25. Most of the property was recovered during the investigation. The 16 year old was issued a criminal summons to appear in the Genesee County Court "Youth Part" to face the charges.

Paul Chester Wapniewski, 63, of East Main Street, Batavia, was arrested after he allegedly entered another tenant's room on East Main Street in Batavia at 9:59 a.m. on April 25 and stole money. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court on charges of second-degree burglary and petit larceny and held without bail. He is due back in city court on May 2. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Mitchell Cowen, assisted by Batavia Police Sgt. Dan Coffey.

Matthew John Norstrand, 34, of Washington Street, Spencerport, is charged with: driving while ability impaired -- combined influence of drugs and alcohol; driving while intoxicated; refusal to take a breath test; operating a motor vehicle with improper plates; and driving with obstructed view. At 3:28 a.m., following a 9-1-1 hang-up call investigation, Norstrand was arrested on West Bergen Road in the Town of Le Roy. He was issued appearance tickets and is due in Town of Le Roy Court on June 6. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Joshua Brabon, assisted by Deputy Erik Andre.

Randy Robert Reiner, 24, of Washington Street, Akron, is charged with: driving while ability impaired by drugs; unlawful possession of marijuana; unregistered motor vehicle; and no/inadequate muffler.At 10:04 p.m. on April 27, Reiner was stopped on Route 63 in the Town of Oakfield following the alleged observation of vehicle and traffic violation(s). He was given sobriety tests then transported to jail where Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Schildwaster, a Certified Drug Recognition Expert, administered a Drug Influence Evaluation. He was arrested, processed and released on appearance tickets for Town of Oakfield Court, where he is due on May 27. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan DeLong.

Matthew Alan Olczak, 31, no address specified, of Clarence, is charged with: driving while impaired by drugs; failure to keep right; driving acorss hazard markings; and driving while intoxicated. He was arrested after a traffic stop on Main Road in the Town of Pembroke at 1:50 a.m. on April 24. He was issued an appearance ticket for Town of Pembroke Court on May 9. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Austin Heberlein.

Heidi L. Harder, 43, of Montclair Avenue, Batavia, is charged with introducing prison contraband in the second degree. On April 16, Harder was arrested on an unrelated charge and transported to the Genesee County Jail. Upon arrival she was searched by a jail deputy and allegedly found to possess drug paraphernalia. She was arraigned in Batavia City Court on April 23 and jailed in lieu of $1,500 cash or bond. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Miah Stevens, assisted by Officer Marc Lawrence.

Peter M. Glick, 21, of Woodward Avenue, Buffalo, is charged with: driving while intoxicated with a BAC of .08 percent or more; DWI -- common law; speeding; and moving from lane unsafely. Glick was allegedly found to be operating his vehicle while intoxicated after a traffic stop on Ellicott Street in Batavia at 8:57 p.m. on April 13. He was processed at Batavia police headquarters and is due in Batavia City Court on May 1. The case was handled by Batavia Police Offier Mitchell Glick, assisted by Officer Miah Stevens.

Donald M. Maskell III, 28, of Cook Road, Byron, is charged with driving while intoxicated -- common law, and no headlights. He was arrested at 2:11 a.m. on April 28 on Jefferson Square, Batavia, after he was stopped for an alleged traffic violation and allegedly was found to be operating his vehicle while intoxicated. He was processed at Batavia police headquarters and is due in Batavia City Court on May 8. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Mitchell Cowen, assisted by Officer Stephen Quider.

Virginia A. Marks, 40, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. She was arrested at 11:33 a.m. on April 26 at the Dollar General store on East Main Street in Batavia following a shoplifting investigation. She was issued a computer-generated appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on April 30. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Jason Davis, assisted by Officer Kevin DeFelice.

April 29, 2019 - 2:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in warrants, news, notify, Wanted.
cassandraelkinswarrantmug2019.jpg victoriagilbertwarrantmug2019.jpg tyannagrrenwarrantmug2019.jpg

Cassandra C. Elkins, age 28, white female, 5’5” 125 lbs., brown hair, green eyes, LKA East Avenue, Springville, NY

Bench Warrant for criminal impersonation 2nd PL 190.25-1 (misdemeanor)  Pembroke Town Court DOW 1/30/17

Victoria H. Gilbert, age 47, white female, 5’5” 130 lbs., blond hair, brown eyes, LKA Oakcrest Drive, Farmingham, MA

Bench Warrant for disorderly conduct PL 240.20-1 (violation) Batavia Town Court DOW 8/21/13

Tyanna D. Green, age 23, black female, 5’4” 130 lbs., black hair, brown eyes, LKA Walnut Street, Batavia, NY

Bench Warrant for violation of probation CPL 410.40 (Felony) Genesee County Court DOW 4/15/19


denzelhallwarrantmug2019.jpg robertpeacheywarrantmug2019.jpg kevinsmithwarrantmug2019.jpg

Denzel T. Hall, age 26, black male, 5’9” 175 lbs., black hair, brown eyes, LKA Atkinson Street, Rochester, NY

Bench Warrant for attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd Degree PL 220.16-1 (felony) Genesee County Court  DOW 4/15/19

Robert L. Peachey Jr., age 35, white male, 6’0” 185 lbs., brown hair, brown eyes, LKA Gibson Street, Oakfield, NY

Bench Warrant for aggravated unlicensed operation 2nd  VTL 511-2a2 (misdemeanor) Stafford Town Court DOW 8/27/14

Kevin T. Smith, age 35, white male, 5’9” 220 lbs., brown hair, blue eyes, LKA Buffalo Avenue, Buffalo, NY

Bench warrant for trespass PL 140.05 (violation) Darien Town Court DOW 1/22/19


If you are able to assist the Sheriff's Office in locating these people, the Sheriff's Office asks that you do not approach these people and that you call (585) 343-5000 with information that may assist in locating the suspects.

April 26, 2019 - 9:09pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia.

A 43-year-old former correction officer at the Albion Correctional Facility was sentenced this afternoon to six months in Genesee County Jail and 10 years probation after pleading guilty last month to one count of first-degree sexual abuse for a sexual act involving a woman incapable of giving consent.

It is a Class D felony.

Adam H. Brokaw, (inset photo) of Northern Boulevard, Batavia, will also have to register for permanent listing on the Sex Offender Registry, although his (threat) level (for reoffending) won't be determined until midsummer.

The case stems from a party at his house with a theme of "high school reunion" on Friday night, Nov. 10, 2017.

Brokaw and his wife, Ellen, invited several friends, including the victim, who said in court she had been friends with Ellen for about five years and felt safe and comfortable around the Brokaws. When she arrived, she headed downstairs where everyone was at the bar, including some members of law enforcement.

She joined with others in "doing shots." Over the course of the evening, she told police, she drank "an entire bottle" of Goldschläger -- Swiss cinnamon schnapps -- a liqueur that is 87 proof. She got sick and vomited outside over the porch railing. Adam Brokaw, according to court testimony, knew this and knew how incapacitated she was. The victim's children had to be brought over to the Brokaws because their mother was not able at that point to care for them at home.

Later the victim passed out on the couch, unconscious. Before that happened, she was unable to sit up unassisted and she could not keep her eyes open.

Her pants had been unbuttoned by Ellen and Adam "to make her more comfortable" as she slept on the couch, according to statements in the presentencing report.

But her rear end was hanging out and she felt the cold couch, the victim said in court today, as she came in and out of consciousness.

Ellen had gone to bed and Adam, who was himself intoxicated, stayed up to pick up the post-party mess.

At some point in the early morning hours Saturday, she recalls her left leg being swung over the couch and her foot planted on the floor. The victim said she felt a man fondling her breasts and penetrating her vagina with his fingers, then attempting to penetrate her with his penis. She heard the click of a camera and saw a flash. She still hears the heavy breathing.

When she came to, she found her underwear twisted all around. She felt she had been sexually assaulted and woke up Ellen.

"I had to keep your filth on me until I could get to the hospital," the victim said during her victim impact statement before sentencing.

"I sometimes think what if my children had woken up and seen you raping me?"

Ellen Brokaw drove the victim to the hospital.

"There are 20 steps in a rape kit," the victim said ruefully. "Twenty steps."

They poked and prodded and swabbed inside and outside every orafice of her body, gave her tests for sexually transmitted diseases, drew her blood, and bagged her underwear and other clothes for evidence. They scraped under her nails and took a hair sample. They gave her a "Plan B" pill (morning after emergency contraception pill) that made her experience severe uterine cramps.

"I'm still in shock. I am disgusted. You are disgusting," she hissed, adding that once she got home "I couldn't make the shower hot enough or long enough. And afterward, I still felt your filth on me."

"You're a piece-of-shit scumbag who took advantage of me," the victim said, although he took "an oath to protect and serve."

In the aftermath, her life has become a regime of pysch meds for depression and anxiety; a sexless marriage -- for now -- because she has flashbacks and trust issues; the loss of a once-close circle of friends; the loss of her old self, her confidence and sense of self worth; all the anger, the aloneness.

"This stops today," the victim said, vowing to regain her strength and independence.

Before returning to the gallery, she thanked Batavia Police Detective Thad Mart, her therapist, UMMC staff and family members for helping her. She was supported in Genesee County Court by at least 15 people.

Brokaw, who is at least 6'5" and solidly built, with shorn hair, sat at the table and stared frozenly ahead when the victim held forth from the podium. He wore tan pants, black athletic shoes, and a pale persimmon-colored T-shirt. His wife, parents, and one other supporter sat behind him in the gallery.

Next First Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini was incredulous that the PSI examiner talks in the report about "the defendant's pain."

She accused Brokaw of attempting to minimize his role in the sexual assault -- by denying he attempted to penetrate her with his penis or that he fondled her breasts, of lying, of portraying himself as a victim, one who has been villified and has become a pariah.

In fact, it was only after DNA tests came back on April 26, 2018 that he admitted to his family that "something happened," Cianfrini said, underscoring her point that by no means did he own up to anything straightaway.

"She was raped and he perpetually lied about it for an extended period of time," Cianfrini said.

At this point, the defense attorney, Matthew Lembke, stood and said it was "improper" for Cianfrini to speak as she was, and that it amounted to her asking that Brokaw be punished for exercising his rights as an American citizen and for adhering to his counsel's advice.

He asked Judge Charles Zambito to strike the First ADA's comments from the record. Zambito declined and said he had no intention of punishing anyone for exercising their rights.

Brokaw shifted in his chair and cupped his chin with one hand and grasped his elbow with the other.

Cianfrini mentioned the glowing letters included in Brokaw's file that speak of his integrity and honor, and reminded the court that this same person ejaculated on the victim: There were seven different areas of the victim's underwear and three areas of her body that tested positive for Brokaw's semen.

A letter said Adam Brokaw is the kind of man who would get up at 2 a.m. to feed a stray kitten. Cianfrini said, and yet, the same man took advantage of "a helpless victim who couldn't get away" in the wee hours that November morning.

"He knows what prison will be like for him," Cianfrini said. "We should send a message that his conduct is reprehensible."

She asked for six months of jail and 10 years probation for Brokaw.

Lembke tried for the better part of an hour to sway the judge against any incarceration, saying his client is a veteran, with a fine record of service in law enforcement. He added that Brokaw's highly unlikely to ever do such a thing again; his chance of recividism is nill.

Lembke also disputed the prosecutor's contention that he acted as he did because "he thought he could get away with it" and said his client knows he should never have behaved as he did. Lembke said Brokaw has never pretended that he did nothing wrong.

"He never blamed anybody or suggested she made things up," Lembke said.

Then he went on about the philosophical struggle of humankind -- wrestling with the eternal questions such as why bad things happen and why good people endure famine, the loss of a child, sexual assaults and unspeakable acts of cruelty. He concluded by saying the answers are never simple because people are complicated.

Brokaw's actions were an aberration, an opportunity seized in the moment, fueled by alcohol.

"There's no denying what happened here is inexcusable," Lembke said. "(The victim's) feelings are right and there's just no excusing it."

Still, Lembke maintained nothing would be served by jail time, only retribution.

His client struggles with his own depression and anxiety since the high-school-reunion-party-gone-wrong, "self-inflicted or not."

"He regrets every minute of it," Lembke said. "He says 'I can't say how sorry I am. I will regret it for the rest of my life.' "

Lembke reminded the court to remember Scripture and to "love the sinner, but hate the sin."

He sought a sentence of probation only.

Zambito said maybe retribution shouldn't be part of a sentence but it's part of life. The community has to have faith in the judicial system. The court is obliged to fashion a sentence that bolsters that faith, and provides justice to all parties to the best of its ability.

"Otherwise the people would resort to self help," Zambito said.

The judge acknowleged Brokaw's military service, his former career in law enforcement, and his family. He said the letters sent to him pleading for lenience and mercy are "not his job."

This case was difficult.

"Alcohol was a factor," Zambito said. "But you allowed this to proceed. Someone came to your house and she trusted you and felt safe. She had to endure a violation, physically, personally, emotionally.

"I don't think you're a monster, but you committed a monstrous act. But you did this and people need to have confidence that there are consequences."

Zambito said he could have sentenced Brokaw to up to seven years in state prison.

Brokaw was led away to jail immediately after signing paperwork. The judge also granted the prosecution's request for two stay away orders of protection for the victim and her husband, which will remain in effect until April 26, 2029.

In the fall, when school begins, the orders can be modified to allow incidental contact at school-sanctioned activities and sports since the couples' children attend the same school and are on at least one sports team together.

Fees totaling more than $1,900 must also be paid by Brokaw, including: $489.69 for restitution; $1,000 to a victims' fund; $300 felony surcharge; $50 DNA fee; $25 for SORA; etc.

"Nobody wins in this situation," the victim said.

April 26, 2019 - 3:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Rashaad Santiago, batavia, news, notify.


A piece of Godzilla that came from Batavia landed on the doorstep of a Pennsylvania home leading to a hazardous materials team responding to the residence and the police and fire departments evacuating the entire neighborhood around Seneca Street in Fountain Hill, which is outside Bethlehem.

The homeowner apparently forgot he had contributed to a Kickstarter campaign to fund a Godzilla movie, Godzilla Heritage, produced in Batavia by Tim Schiefer and Greg Graves.

One of the rewards for his contribution was a mock body part from Godzilla that was supposed to look like it was frozen.

When the unexpected package arrived, Michael and Tara Conner opened it.

“We opened it and there was a glass jar with a clear liquid inside,” Tara Conner told Andrew Scott, a reporter with the Morning Call. “There was something black floating in the clear liquid. We didn’t know what it was and didn’t want to touch it.”

The return label on the package included the name Greg Graves, which also just happens to be the same name of a U.S. Postal official, which was the only match they found for the name when the Conners searched online. That made them more suspicious so they called 9-1-1.

“We had no idea what this was or who sent it to us," Tara Conner said. "A police officer came, saw the package and agreed it was suspicious. He told us to pack some things and leave our house. And then Hazmat was called in.”

It took a few hours for officials in Fountain Hill to piece things together and discover the jar contained nothing harmful.

The monster part was made by Rashaad Santiago, who lives in Batavia but is nationally known, especially after winning the reality TV series Face Off, for his monster costumes, makeup, and props. He made Godzilla for Godzilla Heritage.

Santiago was both amused and proud that his monster part caused such a hubbub in Fountain Hill.

"It made me laugh," Santiago said. "The mass hysteria caused by it also made me proud that something I made by hand was mistaken for something that looked real and harmful."

Photo: File photo of Rashaad Santiago and Tim Schiefer.

UPDATE: A photo of the bit of Godzilla's flesh that was shipped to the Conners. Photo courtesy Tim Schiefer.



April 25, 2019 - 3:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia.

Kevin M. Waleski Jr., 31, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree harassment for allegedly threatening physical violence toward a person living on South Main Street, Batavia, at 12:47 p.m. on April 14. He is also charged with third-degree criminal trespass for allegedly trespassing and remaining on the same South Main Street property at 2:40 p.m. on April 23 after being told to leave. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court on April 23 and jailed in lieu of unspecified bail. He was due to return to city court on April 24. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Stephen Cronmiller.

Lawrence W. Worsley, 39, of Ridge Road, Albion, is charged with two counts of second-degree criminal contempt. Worsley was arrested April 24 after an investigation of a complaint that he contacted the protected party of a stay away order of protection on Vine Street in Batavia on March 12 and again on March 18. He was jailed in lieu of unspecified bail and was due in Batavia City Court today (April 25). The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Stephen Cronmiller.

April 25, 2019 - 2:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, Oakfield.

From the NYS Police:

On April 25 at approximately 12:50 a.m. troopers from SP Batavia (Troop A) responded to a reported robbery at the 7-Eleven located at 25 Main St. in the Village of Oakfield.

The suspect is pictured in the image above. If anyone has any information about this incident, please call SP Batavia at 585-344-6200.

April 24, 2019 - 4:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.
    Michael Piasta

A pair of jeans with a hole, a pair of shoes, and a jacket that were all consistent with images of a robber in a surveillance video were key to getting felony convictions in a jury trial for Michael J. Piasta, according to District Attorney Lawrence Friedman.

"This is a case where we definitely needed that surveillance video to provide the corroboration that we needed," Friedman said.

Piasta took $10,000 from the Arby's, 212 W. Main St., Batavia, on March 25, 2018. 

The jury took two hours to decide Piasta was guilty of robbery, 2nd, grand larceny, 3rd, and criminal possession of a weapon.

Friedman said Piasta carried an imitation handgun and wore a mask when he robbed Arby's.

Photo from Arby's surveillance that helped lead to the arrest and conviction of Michael Piasta.

On April 13, 2018, Piasta, who had already been identified as a suspect, was located in a pickup truck with three other individuals stopped by a Batavia police officer on West Main Street. Friedman said the pants he wore that day had a hole in one leg consistent with a hole in the leg shown in the surveillance video.

He also wore shoes Friedman said he thought were unique and consistent with the shows shown in the Arby's video.

The jacket Piasta wore during the robbery was located at his mother's house following his arrest. His mother said the jacket was hers but she had loaned it to her son a few days before the robbery and it was returned shortly after the robbery, according to Friedman.

"We had a witness who testified that defendant came to his residence right after the crime wearing clothes consistent with the clothes worn during the robbery and that he had several thousand dollars with him and he stated that he had, quote 'done dirt', which apparently means he committed a robbery," Friedman said.

Piasta has three prior stints in state prison and is eligible for sentencing for persistent felony offender status, which means a minimum of five years in prison. The maximum term for a Class C felony is 15 years.

When Piasta was sentenced in 2010 on a burglary charge, he told Judge Robert C. Noonan, "At this point, I just want to say I don’t feel that I’m hopeless," Piasta told Noonan before receiving a maximum state prison term of seven years for burglary. "Regardless of what happens today, I think I can make things better."


Photo from April 13, 2018, of the scene on West Main Street, Batavia, when Michael Piasta was taken into custody as a suspect in the Arby's robbery.

April 24, 2019 - 4:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Darien.
     Robert Gerety

Robert Richard Gerety (right photo), 45, of Chestnut Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt in the first degree and criminal obstruction of breathing. He was arrested following an investigation of a domestic incident that occurred at 9:28 p.m. on April 18 on Chestnut Street in Batavia. He allegedly grabbed a female acquaintance by the neck in violation of an order of protection. He was subsequently found to have an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in Batavia City Court. After arraignment, he was processed at the jail and allegedly found to possess a crack pipe, according to the police report. So he was charged with criminal use of drug paraphernalia. He was held without bail and is due in Batavia City Court on May 9. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Kevin DeFelice, assisted by Officer Christopher Lindsay.

      Latoya Jackson

Latoya Denise Jackson (right photo), 33, of Vine Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon and second-degree assault. At 10:20 p.m. on April 20, Batavia police responded to a Vine Street residence for a physical disturbance call. After investigation, Jackson was arrested for allegedly cutting a male with a knife. She was arraigned in Batavia City Court and jailed without bail. She was due back in city court on April 22. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Arick Perkins, assisted by Officer Peter Post.

Kishonti D. Williams, 28, of Harvester Avenue, Batavia, is charged with: driving while ability impaired by drugs -- first offense; aggravated unlicensed operation in the third degree; operating a motor vehicle while using a portable device; and unlawful possession of marijuana. On April 22 at 11:22 a.m. Williams was stopped on Route 5 in the City of Batavia for a vehicle and traffic violation. Following a roadside investigation, Williams was arrested. At the jail, GC Sheriff's Deputy Eric Meyer, a Drug Recognition Expert, administered a Drug Influence Evaluation and concluded Williams was impaired by drugs. He is due in Town of Batavia Court on May 16. The investigation was handled by Deputy Ryan Delong, assisted by Deputy Meyer.

John Roderick Benton, 61, of Colby Road, Darien, is charged with: Felony DWI -- operation of a motor vehicle while having a BAC of .08 percent or more, with a prior conviction within 10 years; felony DWI with a previous conviction; and failure to keep right. It is alleged that at 1:39 p.m. on April 21 on Tinkham Road in Darien that Benton drove up to a GC Sheriff's deputy and made an inquiry then immediately drove off. The deputy observed Benton unable to maintain his lane of travel and a traffic stop was conducted. Benton was subsequently arrested and issued appearance tickets for Town of Darien Court, where he is due to appear on May 7. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Schildwater, assisted by Kevin McCarthy.

Patrick J. Michael, 38, of Batavia, was arrested by the City of Batavia Police Department on April 14 on an active Warrant of Arrest issued by the Wyoming County Family Court. Michael was wanted for failure to pay child support. Michael was turned over to the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office where he was arraigned in the Village of Warsaw Court and put in Wyoming County Jail in lieu of $3,000 cash bail or bond.

Robert R. Richmond, 55, of Columbia Avenue, Batavia, is charged with trespass. At 4:43 p.m. on April 20, Richmond was arrested on North Street in Batavia after he allegedly entered a building to use the restroom after previously being avvised that he is not welcome on the property. He was processed and released on an appearance ticket. He is due in Batavia City Court on April 30. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Peter Post, assisted by Officer Mitchell Cowen.

April 24, 2019 - 10:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in jobs, unemployment, news, notify.

Genesee County's unemployment rate in March was 4.6 percent, the lowest March rate since at least 1990.

The rate a year ago was 5.4 percent.

The county's labor force is reportedly 29,100, down 100 people from a year ago. The number of county residents with jobs is reported at 27,800, up 200 from a year ago. The number of residents seeking employment is 1,300, down from 1,600 a year ago.

In 1990, there was 30,800 residents in the labor pool with 29,200 holding jobs.

The unemployment rate in March for the GLOW region is 4.9 percent, down from 5.8 percent a year ago and also the lowest recorded rate since 1990.

The state's unemployment rate is 4.1 percent, down from 4.6 percent a year ago and nationally, the rate is 3.9 percent, down from 4.1 percent a year ago.

April 23, 2019 - 7:08pm

Above, mugshots of Brandon Joseph Welch after his arrest in October.

A former Batavia resident is being held accountable starting today for the "horrific" treatment of a tortured and starving puppy after City Court Judge Robert Balbick sentenced Brandon Joseph Welch to immediately begin serving two months in Genesee County Jail, and a total of three years probation.

Welch made his sixth court appearance this afternoon, flying in from his parents' house in Florida, accompanied by his mother. His attorney is Rochester-based Frank Ciardi.

The native of Suffolk County pled guilty earlier this year on the misdemeanor charges of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree (for claiming he found the starving puppy); torturing/injuring/not feeding an animal. The charge of owning/harboring an unlicensed dog was not mentioned, so apparently it was dropped.

Welch was arrested Oct. 18 after a warrant was served at his apartment at 679 E. Main St., following a tip from a witness.

"Opal" -- so named by Volunteers For Animals at the shelter -- is a fawn and white colored pitbull mix who was a few months old and weighed only 9.2 pounds when rescued on Oct. 4 after she was found by a Good Samaritan in Stafford. The dog was not able to stand on her own and was covered in urine and feces, and was severely dehydrated and malnourished.

Opal subsequently received nourishment, medical treatment, grooming and exercise while in foster care and was later adopted.

A Class D felony charge of making a terroristic threat, for Welch's alleged threat to shoot the first cop who came to his residence, was dropped because the cooperation of two witnesses, who live in another part of the state, proved problematic.

Today Ciardi articulated all that his client is going through to get his life together. He noted the lengthy pretrial period and that his client always showed up for court appearances. He noted that he has found suitable employment as a diesel mechanic trainee in Florida.

Welch moved to the Sunshine State after initially staying with his grandparents, who live on South Fairview Avenue, in the Village of Montauk, Town of East Hampton, Suffolk County -- on the Long Island Peninsula.

Ciardi said his client has availed himself of mental health treatment and is making progress all around after changing his lifestyle.

"He lacked the mental health to have a life that's fulfilling," Ciardi said.

The defense attorney reminded Balbick that Welch's offenses are misdemeanors. He argued against any incarceration, which Genesee County Probation recommended, and was against his client serving probation in Genesee County since he has no ties here.

"Jail would serve no purpose; it would bring him back down," Ciardi said, and put the brakes on the diesel mechanic career path Welch is pursuing.

The defense attorney even suggested that sentencing be postponed altogether until a course of mental health treatment was completed. He said it would be good if his client could continue his employment as a novice truck mechanic in Florida and have probation oversight transferred there.

Barring that, at least have it transferred to Suffolk County -- Welch could move back to his grandparents' place or make other living arrangements there where he was born and raised and has extended family.

Ciardi questioned whether Genesee County Probation actually read the two-page addendum to his client's presentencing report from Suffolk County, which recommends no incarceration and positively notes the good measures Welch is taking to get his life in order.

He strongly disputed Genesee County Probation Department's assertion that Welch took no responsibility for his actions.

"He took full responsibility -- for lying to police, for his poor choices, for putting his family through this," Ciardi said. "He has no prior record."

Balbick outright dismissed the notion of adjourning sentencing. The judge said the allegations against Welch were serious and he agreed that some incarceration was warranted.

But the game changer was Welch's decision to up and move to Florida before his case was adjudicated, essentially removing himself from Balbick's jurisdiction. This did not sit well with the judge at all even though he broke no law in doing so.

The prospect of getting a probation department in Florida to make room for the oversight of a misdemeanor New York case is not a given. It would be a complicated, lengthy and uncertain landscape to navigate.

By removing himself from New York State, it "exponentially complicated" his case and thereby put the terms of his probation on "shaky ground," Balbick said.

"That move to Florida really put the court in a bind," Balbick said.

When asked if he had anything to say on his behalf, a tearful Welch -- dressed in a long-sleeved red, white and navy plaid shirt, with navy pants and black dress shoes -- told Balbick that he's making progress in his life and that his "dream job" of becoming a diesel mechanic means everything to him. He would be devastated, he said, if he lost the opportunity he currently has in Florida.

The judge called a recess in order to contact the GC Probation Department to be sure they had read the addendum in the presentencing report from Suffolk County.

Welch walked from the podium that's in front of the judge to the gallery and sat next to his mother and cried and sniffled for 30 solid minutes.

When the case was recalled at 3 p.m., Ciardi and Welch stood at the podium and the judge told them that GC Probation confirmed they had read the addendum but still recommended a period of incarceration and he agreed with them.

Welch stood with his shoulders hunched and his arms crossed tightly across his chest.

"Your move to Florida complicated this matter tremendously," Balbick told the defendant. "What you did to (that animal) was horrific. There has to be accountability for the injuries and mistreatment. That's why you find yourself here in this situation."

Balbick proceeded to sentence Welch to "shock probation" of 60 days in jail starting right then and there. He said while he's incarcerated, he has no problem with getting probation transferred to Suffolk County, NY -- Florida is out of the question. Welch's probation will end on April 22, 2022.

Other stipulations:

  • He must notify his probation officer of any change in address, employment, treatment, education;
  • Get job training or a job;
  • Pay a $200 surcharge as required for falsely reporting an incident to law enforcement;
  • Pay a $50 DNA database fee;
  • Two orders of protection were renewed for two witnesses;
  • Allow courts/law enforcement/authoriites to access treatment and mental health records;
  • Avoid disreputable people and places;
  • Do not use mood-altering drugs or substances;
  • Undergo testing as need be;
  • Own/harbor NO PETS;
  • Get a substance-abuse evaluation from an OASIS-licensed clinician;
  • Within four weeks, get a mental-health evaluation;
  • Do not possess any firearms.

Welch, looking dejected and sniffling still, asked if he could hand his mother his wallet and mobile phone before being taken into custody. The Sheriff's deputy at hand said no and took the items from him and gave them to his mother in the gallery.

Welch asked if he could step outside the courtroom and speak briefly with his mother and tell her goodbye. The judge said "if it's all right with the deputy." "No" replied the deputy, "we usually don't allow it once you're taken into custody."

With that, the mother cried and mouthed "I love you" and her 23-year-old son, pouting, arms clenched across his chest, eyes downcast, was led away to jail by another deputy to begin his "shock probation."

Below, photo of Opal when she was first brought to the GC Animal Shelter.

Below, Opal after being nursed back to health and ready for adoption, which was successful.

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