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county court

2 arrested with kilo of cocaine offered plea deals with lengthy prison sentences

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 December 2016 at 9:39 am

ALBION – Two men who were arrested on June 17 in the biggest cocaine seizure in Orleans County history have been offered plea deals that would result in lengthy prison sentences.

Daniel Guzman

Daniel Guzman

The two men were allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine from Texas into Orleans County.

Daniel Guzman, 29, of Houston, Texas and Luis Alberto Sanchez-Garza, 31, of Mexico each are in jail on $500,000 bail. Both men face Class A-1 felony charges for criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree. The drug seized has a street value of about $150,000.

Luis Alberto Sanchez-Garza

Luis Alberto Sanchez-Garza

District Attorney Joe Cardone offered the two plea deals on Monday. If they plead guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second degree, they would still be facing several years in state prison.

Guzman, who has at least one prior felony, would face a maximum of 10 years, while Sanchez-Garza, who doesn’t have a prior felony, would face up to 8 years.

The two are considering the offer from the DA.

Cardone said law enforcement searched a vehicle on June 17 after getting a warrant. Police heard from an informant that Guzman and Sanchez-Graza were allegedly bringing the cocaine to Orleans County.

Police, including the Albion K9, searched the vehicle that was stopped on East Avenue in Albion and found 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine hidden in the engine compartment.

In another case on Monday, a former Medina resident was sentenced to nine months in jail for criminal mischief in the fourth degree.

Hamzah Abdur-Rasheed, 22, formerly of East Center Street in Medina admitted in court to damaging a door on May 19, 2014. Judge James Punch said Abdur-Rasheed engaged in “violent bullying.”

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2 teens arraigned for felony drug crimes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 December 2016 at 12:38 pm

ALBION – Two teen-agers who were arrested at a motel in early October after being found with cocaine were arraigned in Orleans County Court on Monday.

Andrew L. Coley, 19, of Albion and a 17-year-old girl from Webster were arraigned on two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, two counts of CPCS in the fifth degree, endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful possession of marijuana.

The Albion Police Department and Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force executed a search warrant on Oct. 6 at a motel in Albion.

After entry was made into the room, police discovered a runaway juvenile inside the room from Parsons Children and Family Center in Albany. Coley and the girl also were allegedly in the room.

Police also found drugs packaged for sale, including crack cocaine, heroin, prescription pills, marijuana, cash and other drug paraphernalia, the Task Force said in a news release announcing the arrests.

County Court Judge James Punch set bail at Coley for $5,000 and $1,000 for the girl, who may be given youthful offender status. (If given youthful offender, her name shouldn’t be published.)

In other arraignments on Monday:

• Edgar L. Rosario, 30, of Medina was arraigned on charges of felony driving while intoxicated and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

He was arrested on Sept. 25 after he was allegedly driving drunk with a BAC of 0.18 percent and struck a house on Eagle Harbor Road. District Attorney Joe Cardone said Rosario has two prior convictions for driving while impaired/intoxicated. Judge Punch set bail at $5,000.

• A Hilton woman was arraigned on charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth and seventh degrees.

Sara Harris, 35, allegedly was found with heroin and pills in her vehicle when she was stopped in Murray on Oct. 26 by the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office.

Harris allegedly had two amphetamine pills and 18 small, plastic bags which field tested positive for heroin.

Judge Punch set bail at $10,000 for Harris.

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2 facing charges in separate hit-and-run accidents appear in county court

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 December 2016 at 5:43 pm

Hamlin man arraigned, while judge recuses himself in another case

ALBION – A Hamlin man was arraigned today in Orleans County Court for vehicular assault after an alleged hit-and-run in September when a 14-year-old girl was struck and seriously injured on County Line Road.

Cody L. Buzard, 23, of Redman Road appeared in court today to be arraigned for second-degree vehicular assault, driving while ability impaired by drugs and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident.

Judge James Punch set bail at $50,000 for Buzard.

The girl injured in the accident was treated for a broken femur, shattered pelvis, and laceration to her spleen. She was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester by Mercy Flight.

Buzard was allegedly driving a pickup truck on Sept. 16 when he hit the girl. After driving away, he came back to the scene and turned himself over to investigators about an hour after the incident. He was arrested after failing field sobriety tests, the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office reported in Sept. 21.

In another alleged hit-and-run accident, Judge Punch recused himself from the case against Jeffrey P. VanNostrand, 52, of Kent.

VanNostrand on Aug. 16 allegedly struck a child on a bicycle at 8:47 p.m. on Baker Road. The girl was injured and transported to Strong Memorial by Mercy Flight.

VanNostrand allegedly fled the scene and turned himself in the following morning. He has been charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, driving while ability impaired and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident.

Judge Punch said the case is very similar to another hit-and-run with VanNostrand in 1989 where a girl was injured.

The judge said he remembered the details from the 1989 case, back when he was district attorney in Orleans County. The judge recused himself from the latest case with VanNostrand. Another judge will have to come in for the arraignment and to handle the case.

“This is a rare thing for me,” the judge said about recusing himself. “But I find it infuriating (VanNostrand faces charges in a similar hit-and-run).”

3 plead guilty to felonies in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 November 2016 at 8:01 am

ALBION – Three people pleaded guilty in Orleans County Court on Monday for either felony driving while intoxicated or drug crimes.

Christopher Aldrich, 47, of West Avenue in Albion pleaded guilty to felony DWI. He was stopped in Albion on July 24 after he was driving erratically.

Aldrich admitted he had been drinking before driving that day. He has a prior DWI in 2012.

The charge normally carries a maximum of 4 years in state prison, but as part of a plea deal Aldrich will face no more than a year in county jail when he is sentenced on Feb. 6.

• A Byron woman with a past DWI also pleaded guilty to felony DWI. Lindsay Skivington, 29, of Cook Road admitted she had been drinking before driving when she was arrested in the Village of Albion on July 31. She was stopped for speeding.

As part of a plea deal, she will face no more than 6 months in jail when she is sentenced on Feb. 6.

• Christopher Haitz, 45, of Medina pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth and seventh degrees.

He was accepted in the Drug Court program. If he completes the program, the more serious charge will be dismissed.

Haitz admitted in court he had heroin with the intent to sell it at the Bates Road boat launch by the canal on July 2.

If he is unsuccessful in Drug Court, he would face the maximum sentence for the most serious drug charge – 2 ½ years in state prison.

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3 from Orleans are sentenced to either jail or state prison

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 November 2016 at 4:52 pm

ALBION – Three people will be spending time in either the county jail or state prison after being sentenced today in Orleans County Court.

Billy J. Ray, 40, of Phipps Road in Albion was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in state prison for criminal contempt in the first degree.

Ray, during an Oct. 31 court appearance, admitted to violating an order of protection when he was in jail by using the phone and threatening someone’s life who he was ordered to not have contact with.

Judge James Punch said Ray on many occasions threatened the victim in the crime.

“This was a reign of terror,” Punch told Ray during sentencing this afternoon. “You’re a bully and you’ve bullied this woman for a long period of time.”

Ray apologized in court for scaring the victim.

His attorney, Dominic Saraceno, asked for Probation for Ray. Saraceno said Ray has taken responsibility for the crime, and has a minimal criminal record.

“He never once blames his victim,” Saraceno said. “He blames his own compulsive behavior.”

Punch said Ray deserves time in prison.

“You are profoundly self-centered with no concept of other people’s rights,” the judge said.

In other sentencings:

• A Holley woman who admitted to violating her probation by driving with a suspended license, and by using marijuana and heroin, was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in state prison.

Stephanie M. Rauch, 27, of North Main Street has been given opportunities to avoid prison, but hasn’t been successful, Punch said.

“There is really nothing more that we can do to help you with your drug problem at this point,” Punch told her.

Her attorney, Dominic Saraceno, said a drug addiction is fueling Rauch’s problems.

“She will, hopefully, get past this,” Saraceno said.

• A 19-year-old man from Shelby was sentenced to 6 months in jail and 10 years of probation for first-degree sexual abuse.

The man was 18 when the crime occurred and was given youthful offender status, meaning his name shouldn’t be published after he has been sentenced. He has no prior criminal record.

The man admitted to having sexual contact with the victim, who was also intoxicated to the point of being physically helpless.

“This is a disturbing and disgusting crime, there is no other way to describe it,” Punch said.

He ordered the man to pay a $1,000 victim fee and also issued an order of protection for the victim.

Saraceno, the attorney, said the man has mental health issues.

“It’s pretty obvious the defendant has serious issues to address,” Saraceno told the judge.

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Medina man, 22, faces numerous felony counts for sexually abusing girl

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 November 2016 at 9:17 am

ALBION – A Medina man was arraigned in Orleans County Court on Monday for rape and numerous counts of sexual abuse and criminal sex acts.

Peter C. Jones, 22, of North Avenue in Medina allegedly had an ongoing sexual relationship with a girl who was 13 and then turned 14. The alleged crimes occurred between March 20 and July 1, according to the District Attorney’s office.

Jones was arraigned on one count of second-degree rape, 22 counts of criminal sexual acts in the 2nd degree,  8 counts criminal sexual acts in the third degree, 1 count of endangering the welfare of a child, 27 counts disseminating indecent materials to minors in the second degree, 11 counts of sexual abuse in the 2nd degree and 4 counts of sexual abuse in the third degree.

Jones, who was indicted by the grand jury on Oct. 20, has two prior misdemeanors. His attorney entered a not guilty plea for Jones and requested that County Court Judge James Punch set no bail.

Punch set bail at $10,000 on Monday and also issued an order of protection for the alleged victim.

In another arraignment on Monday:

Jessica D. Hale, 26, of South Avenue in medina was arraigned on felony driving while intoxicated and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree.

She was stopped by police on Sept. 29 on West Avenue in Shelby. Punch set bail at $1,000 for Hale, who entered a not guilty plea.

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Man gets jail time for credit card scheme

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 November 2016 at 3:57 pm

ALBION – A man from Texas was sentenced to 60 days in Orleans County Jail plus three years probation for his role in a credit card scheme.

Yoel Martin Pena, 40, pleaded guilty on Sept. 26 to third-degree possession of a forged instrument. As part of a plea deal, he would not be sentenced to more than 364 days in jail. The charge also was downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Pena was originally charged in February 2012 when he and Felix Darias allegedly had 47 fraudulent credit cards that they used at the Albion Wal-Mart.

The two were Miami, Fla. residents and were charged with first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. Pena faced the additional charge of third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument because he allegedly had a fake South Carolina driver’s license.

Darias was sentenced for the crime, but Pena fled the area. He was picked up recently in Texas and extradited to Orleans County.

District Attorney Joe Cardone had offered Pena a plea deal on Monday for attempted criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, which can carry up to 4 years in state prison. However, Cardone said he reviewed the case and possession of stolen or fraudulent credit cards is considered less of a crime than having stolen cash.

The change in the severity of the charge means Pena was looking at a maximum of one year in jail instead of four years in prison. With the plea deal, the sentence will be no more than 364 days in jail. That maximum sentence, at one day less than a full year, increases the chances that Pena can stay in the country and not be deported.

Judge James Punch gave Pena 60 days in jail plus probation, which Punch is a fitting punishment for a first-time offender.

He warned Pena is he commits any crimes on probation, he could be facing state prison and would likely be deported.

“I think he has learned his lesson,” his attorney Mark Lewis said at sentencing.

In other cases, two people pleaded guilty, including:

• Evan J. Vanskiver, 24, of Hilton admitted to felony driving while intoxicated on Feb. 25 in Albion. Vanskiver has a prior conviction in Parma in 2014.

As part of plea agreement, he will be sentenced to no more than one year in state prison on Jan. 30.

• Angela Tuitt, 20, from Queens pleaded guilty to attempted promoting of prison contraband in the first degree. She is an inmate at Albion Correctional Facility. She admitted to having a lock in a sock with the intent to use it as a weapon to protect herself on May 7, 2015.

The charge carries a maximum of 2 to 4 years in state prison. As part of a plea deal she will face 1 ½ to 3 years in prison. She is currently serving a 2-year sentence for attempted burglary in the second degree.

She will be sentenced on Feb. 27.

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Task Force makes first medical marijuana arrest in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2016 at 4:56 pm
Steven C. Jones

Steven C. Jones

MEDINA – A Rochester man is the first person arrested in Orleans County for the purchase and sale of medical marijuana in pill and liquid form, the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force reported today.

Steven C. Jones, 47, of 44 White House Dr., Rochester, faces numerous charges after his arrest on Monday following an investigation into the sale and distribution of prescription pills and medical marijuana from the Rochester area to Orleans County.

The Task Force and Medina Police Department stopped a vehicle on South Main Street. Police used a warrant to search the vehicle, 552 Mahar St. and Jones’ residence in the Town of Greece.

Police seized police seized oxycodone pills, hydrocodone pills, medical marijuana in liquid form and medical marijuana in pill form.

Jones was charged with 2 counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance   in the third degree (Class B felonies), 1 count of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree (Class C felony) and 1 count of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree (Class D felony).

He was arraigned in Albion Town Court by Town Justice Joseph Fuller. Jones was committed to the county jail on $50,000 bail and is scheduled to return to court on Wednesday at 9 a.m.

The investigation is ongoing, and Jones faces at least 14 additional felony charges regarding the sale and possession of controlled substances, said Joseph Sacco, the Task Force’s supervising investigator.

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2 from Orleans are sentenced to state prison

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 November 2016 at 5:19 pm

ALBION – Two men from Orleans County were sentenced to state prison today, one for grand larceny and the other for a drug crime.

Zachary A. Deville, 22, of Brown Street in Albion was sentenced to 1 to 3 years. He and a co-defendant admitted to entering The Vape Shop when it was closed and stealing a laptop from the business on East Bank Street on April 11. Both Deville and Michael Borrero, 18, have to split the restitution, $1,017 each. (Borrero was sentenced to a year in the county jail on Oct. 24 for attempted third-degree burglary.)

Deville, who has a criminal record, was given a longer sentence. He faced charges of third-degree burglary, fourth-degree grand larceny, and two counts of criminal mischief in the fourth degree.

Deville’s attorney Mark Lewis asked for a sentence that included drug treatment for Deville. Lewis said Deville’s criminal actions are due to his drug use.

Orleans County Court Judge James Punch said Deville has a criminal history that includes crimes in South Dakota. He also has been in drug treatment and didn’t succeed.

“We can’t lesson the sentence because you are a drug addict especially because you have had opportunities for help before,” Punch said during sentencing today.

• In another sentencing today, Michael Thompson, 49, of Medina was sentenced to 2 years in prison criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Thompson sold drugs to a confidential informant, District Attorney Joe Cardone said.

“He wasn’t openly selling drugs to people in the community,” said Thompson’s attorney, David Owens.

He asked the judge to consider a sentence in the local jail or probation, as well as drug treatment program for Thompson.

Punch gave Thompson 2 years in state prison, which is less than the 2 ½ year-maximum.

Thompson has a criminal history going back decades, and has had opportunities to work on his drug problems, Punch said.

The sentencing today is separate from more recent charges against Thompson. He was arrested on Sept. 7 after allegedly getting in an altercation with another person and stabbing that person, causing non-life-threatening injuries.

• In another case today, a former Waterport man, Kelly Chellino of Lockport, pleaded guilty to violating probation and could face up to a year in jail as part of a plea deal.

Chellino admitted he drank alcohol, used cocaine, and punched a person in the head. He said he was sober for 3 years but relapsed in the end of June.

Chellino has several prior misdemeanors and two felonies. He will be sentenced on Dec. 12.

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Another Rochester man sentenced to 20 years for role in death of Medina man who collected comic books

Posted 8 November 2016 at 6:38 pm

Press Release, Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. Western District of New York

BUFFALO – Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Albert William Parsons, 47, of Rochester,who was convicted of committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering, was sentenced today to 20 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott S. Allen, Jr., who handled the case, said that co-defendants Rico Vendetti and Arlene Combs hired three men, including Parsons, Donald Griffin, and Juan Javier, to travel from Rochester to the Medina home of 78 year-old Homer Marciniak to steal Marciniak’s valuable comic book collection in exchange for $1,000 each.

In executing their plan, Parsons, along with Combs, Griffin, and Javier, drove from Rochester to Medina and during the early morning hours of July 4, 2010. They cut Marciniak’s phone line. In the early morning hours of the following day, July 5, 2010, the co-defendants returned to Marciniak’s home.

Wearing ski masks and gloves, Parsons, Griffin, and Javier forcibly entered, and during the course of the burglary, Marciniak, who had a serious heart condition, awoke and confronted the burglars. Griffin struck Marciniak in the face and then, along with Javier, bound his hands with bed linens.

Javier then verbally threatened Marciniak with a BB gun in hand. Parsons, Griffin, and Javier ultimately located the comic book collection along with several strong boxes containing cash, coins, and other valuables. Parsons, Griffin, and Javier fled the scene with Combs and provided the comic books to her. Combs, in turn, together with co-defendant Terry Stewart took the comic books to Vendetti later in the day on July 5.

After the burglars fled his house, Marciniak freed himself and was taken to Medina Memorial Hospital for treatment of his facial injuries. However, after Marciniak was treated and released, he suffered a heart attack, was re-admitted to the hospital, and died shortly thereafter.

Medical experts concluded that the blow Griffin struck, as well as the emotional trauma caused by the burglary, directly contributed to Marciniak’s cardiac arrest and resulting death.

Once Vendetti learned that the burglary resulted in Marciniak’s death, Vendetti disposed of the comic books.

Law enforcement officials within the Rochester Police Department identified the defendants during the course of separate investigation in October 2010. The defendants were arrested soon thereafter.

This burglary grew out of an organized shoplifting ring that stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise from retail stores such as Walmart, Sears, Home Depot, JoAnn Fabrics, Tops, and Wegmans.

Vendetti, the former owner of Eastside Gold & Car Audio, formerly in Rochester, along with co-defendant, Dayon Shaver, purchased the stolen merchandise for 25 cents on the dollar and then sold the stolen merchandise on eBay for about half of its retail value, primarily to out-of-state customers.

Also convicted in connection with this case:

  • Rico Vendetti was convicted of racketeering and was sentenced to 20 years.
  • Arlene Combs was convicted of racketeering and was sentenced to 20 years.
  • Donald Griffin was convicted of committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering: murder, and was sentenced to 20 years.
  • Terry Stewart was convicted of racketeering and was sentenced to 55 months.
  • Dayon Shaver was convicted of conspiring to traffic in stolen goods across state lines and was sentenced to 46 months.
  • Brandon Meade was convicted of conspiring to traffic in stolen goods across state lines and was sentenced to time-served after serving nine months.
  • Juan Javier, who was 17 at the time of the burglary, was prosecuted as an adult in Orleans County and sentenced to 7 years in state prison.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation on the part of Special Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Cohen, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Richard Allen, the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of then Sheriff Scott Hess, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn, the Medina Police Department, under the direction of then Chief Jose Avila and Officers from the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli. Special assistance was provided by Orleans County District Attorney Joseph Cardone.

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