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county court

Deputy pleads not guilty to grand larceny, falsifying business records

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 August 2017 at 10:04 pm

ALBION – An Orleans County deputy sheriff accused of grand larceny and falsifying business records to collect unearned pay in a part-time security job pleaded not guilty to a 102-count indictment.

Tom Marano was arraigned by Sara Sheldon in Orleans County Criminal Court this afternoon on 101 counts of falsifying business records and one count of third-degree grand larceny.

Last Monday she arraigned Dean Covis, a sergeant with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, who faces a 141-count indictment.

Both Marano and Covis are accused of submitting false time sheets, log books and collecting pay for security work they didn’t perform. They were paid $20 an hour to provide security at the hydroelectric plant in Waterport. The facility is owned by Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners.

Marano was paid about $4,000 for security work when he was allegedly working shifts for the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office. (Covis allegedly was paid about $14,000 for security work while he was on the clock for the Sheriff’s Office.) The alleged crimes occurred near the end of 2013 through the beginning of 2015.

Lawrence Friedman, the Genesee County district attorney, is serving as special prosecutor for the cases against Marano and Covis.

Friedman didn’t request any bail for Marano during arraignment today, the same as for Covis last week. Friedman said they have made all of their court appearances and aren’t flight risks.

Sheldon said the case against Marano in tentatively scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 9, the same start date for a trial against Covis.

Friedman told the judge he wants the cases to be prosecuted separately and not share a trial. Sheldon said she would handle the cases separately.

In terms of the trial dates, set for the same day, “we’ll adjust it later,” Sheldon said.

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Woman with 4 DWIs in 3 months admits to driving drunk in Barre

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 August 2017 at 8:51 pm

Sharon Davis faces 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison when sentenced in November

Sharon Davis

ALBION – A Geneseo woman pleaded guilty to felony driving while intoxicated in Orleans County Court today and faces 2 1/3 to 7 years in state prison when she is sentenced on Nov. 13.

Sharon Davis, 54, of Geneseo was charged with 4 DWIs in less than three months, including one on April 21 in Barre when she registered a 0.26 percent Blood Alcohol Content.

 A plea deal today also includes a second DWI in Batavia on May 15. The sentences for the DWIs in Orleans and Genesee will be together, but Davis will be prosecuted separately for the two more recent DWIs in Livingston County.

She was arrested on June 24 in Geneseo, and a day later in Lakeville, Livingston County.

Davis, appearing before Judge Sara Sheldon in Orleans County today, admitted to driving drunk in Orleans County when she was stopped in Barre on April 21.

As part of her sentence on Nov. 13, she faces a minimum fine of $2,000 and a maximum of $10,000.

Davis also has two prior DWIs in 2007 in Livingston County and 2008 in Monroe County.

She is currently being held without bail in the Livingston County Jail. She was living in Batavia until she moved to Geneseo six months ago.

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10 years probation for former police officer who had sex with girl, 16

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 August 2017 at 7:33 pm

Adam Mesiti was working as security officer for Holley schools when he committed crime

Adam Mesiti

HOLLEY – A former security guard at Holley Central School was sentenced to 10 years of probation today in Orleans County Court for having sex with a student, a 16-year-old girl, in 2014.

Adam Mesiti, a retired sergeant with the Brockport Police Department, avoided jail time. He will be a registered sex offender.

As part of a plea deal, he could have faced up to six months in the county jail.

Judge Sara Sheldon said Mesiti was living an exemplary life before having sex with the girl. She received numerous letters of support, testifying to his character.

Many of the letters also blamed the victim of the crime. Sheldon took issue with that characterization and said Mesiti and his family have tried to give impression to the community that he is innocent of wrongdoing.

“These people who love you so much don’t believe you did this,” Sheldon told Mesiti during sentencing this afternoon.

She told Mesiti she couldn’t sentence him if he was in fact innocent of the charges – a 60-count indictment including 10 counts of third degree rape, 20 counts of third degree criminal sexual act and 30 counts of sex misconduct. Mesiti on May 22 pleaded guilty to one count of rape.

Sheldon considered holding off on sentencing because she wasn’t certain Mesiti was admitting guilt. When she said the case could go to trial, Mesiti, who admitted in a May court appearance to having sex with the girl, professed several times to committing the crime.

Sheldon said she wanted to make sure Mesiti’s many supporters were clear he did it, and the girl wasn’t lying.

“I did it,” Mesiti said in court. “She didn’t lie.”

The sentencing was complicated today when Mesiti’s attorney, Christian Kennedy, said District Attorney Joe Cardone and his office had threatened Mesiti’s family and pressured Mesiti to take a plea deal.

Cardone objected to the allegations, saying he or his office never put pressure on Mesiti to take a deal.

Sheldon nearly called off sentencing and the plea deal, saying the case should back to the square one.

“This case is under a cloud,” Sheldon said.

But Kennedy apologized, and said he misspoke. He asked that his comments be stricken from the record.

Kennedy also said the victim of the crime is mentally unstable and had threatened suicide last week after an altercation with Mesiti’s family at a local bank. Cardone said the victim did not threaten to take her life.

Mesiti, at times, pleaded with the judge to not delay sentencing. He said the District Attorney’s Office didn’t threaten his family.

“I just want this over,” Mesiti told the judge. “I want to move on with my life.”

Mesiti on May 22 admitted in court that he had sex with a 16-year-old girl on Oct. 22, 2014.

Mesiti was employed by C.O.P. Security, a private firm contracted to provide security services at the Holley School District in 2014 when the alleged incidents took place.

The Holley School District and C.O.P. Security fully cooperated with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office during this month-long investigation, Undersheriff Chris Bourke said when Mesiti’s arrest was announced on March 4.

Cardone said the victim of the crime has been unfairly vilified and blamed on Facebook by many of Mesiti’s supporters.

Many of the letters in support of Mesiti said he was unjustly disgraced and punished. Mesiti told the judge there is more to the case that has been presented. His attorney said the case has been blown up because of the media.

The judge asked Mesiti if he had sex with the girl. He said yes.

She said an ex-cop having sex with a 16-year-old is going to be in the headlines.

One of Mesiti’s supporters said in a letter to the judge he was trying to help the victim, who had a troubled life.

“Why can’t you lend her a helping hand without raping her,” the judge said.

The judge read from more letters of support for Mesiti, and most faulted the victim while extolling Mesiti’s good character.

“I’m nauseous at the fact people are left with the impression the system screwed an innocent man,” Sheldon said. “I don’t want these people to walk out of here and think you got screwed.”

The judge told Mesiti the victim “was a troubled 16-year-old that you took advantage of.” She said Mesiti should have shown restraint.

“I don’t care that she is troubled and provocative,” Sheldon said. “You are the man. You have to walk away.”

Cardone, during sentencing, asked that Mesiti be sentenced to jail, despite his exemplary record with the Brockport Police Department.

“There’s no question in respect to Adam Mesiti that he’s had a good career as a police officer and done many honorable things,” Cardone said.

But the DA said Mesiti took advantage of the girl and harmed her.

The judge decided against sending Mesiti to jail.

Many of the letters of support for Mesiti, including one from Brockport Police Chief Daniel Varrenti, said the allegations were out of Mesiti’s character. Varrenti said he believes Mesiti would never do such a crime again.

The judge approved an order of protection for the victim from Mesiti and his family.

She also ordered Mesiti to pay a $1,000 sex offender victim’s fee, $325 court surcharge, $50 DNA fee, and $50 sex offender registry fee.

Mesiti is scheduled to appear back in court on Oct. 2 to determine his level on the sex offender registry.

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Judge pushes to have several cases go to trial, including grand larceny case with sergeant

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 August 2017 at 11:14 am

ALBION – The acting Orleans County Criminal Court judge said she is pushing to have several cases go to trial, rather than waiting for plea deals to be struck.

Sara Sheldon, who is the interim judge since James Punch retired last month, set trial dates for three cases on Monday, and told District Attorney Joe Cardone and attorneys for defendants she will push for more trials.

“I’m a judge who loves jury trials,” she said in court.

She arraigned Dean Covis, a sergeant with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, who faces a 141-count indictment.

Covis is accused of submitting false time sheets, log books and collecting pay for security work he didn’t perform, when he was paid $20 an hour to provide security at the hydroelectric plant in Waterport. The facility is owned by Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners. (Tom Marano, a deputy facing similar charges, will be arraigned in court on Aug. 28.)

Covis allegedly was paid about $14,000 for security work. The alleged crimes occurred near the end of 2013 through the beginning of 2015.

He has been charged with 140 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree for allegedly submitting false time sheets and for making inaccurate log book entries for time in and time out, as well as for activities during his shift, said Lawrence Friedman, the Genesee County district attorney who is serving as special prosecutor.

Covis also faces one count of grand larceny in the first degree.

He pleaded not guilty in court on Monday. He was released without bail. Friedman said Covis has made all of his court appearances. The Genesee DA didn’t ask for bail.

Sheldon gave Covis’s defense attorney, Stephen Leonardo, until Oct. 2 to file motions in the case, with a pretrial conference set for Oct. 23. Sheldon said the trial would start Jan. 9.

In other cases:

• Sheldon also set Oct. 16 as the start of a trial against Jade Fayko of Holley. She was offered a plea deal with a split sentence of jail and probation if she pleaded guilty to fourth-degree grand larceny.

Fayko, 21, rejected that offer on Monday. Fayko was with two other people when someone broke into a truck in Clarendon and allegedly stole $8,000 in cash.

One of the codefendants said Fayko broke into the truck and took the money, but Fayko in a previous court appearance said she was a passenger in a vehicle with the two other codefendants. Fayko said she didn’t leave that vehicle and instead the two other codefendants broke into the truck and took the money. One of the codefendants handed Fayko $200, Fayko said in a previous appearance.

“Your mere presence at the scene of the crime doesn’t make you guilty of the crime,” Judge Punch told her during a June 5 appearance.

• Judge Sheldon also set Nov. 27 as the start of a trial against Matthew Engert, 26, of Holley. He allegedly assaulted another inmate in the jail on Feb. 14. Engert was in jail after being arrested for criminal possession of a weapon.

He faces charges of second-degree assault for punching another inmate in the Orleans County Jail in the head and chest.

• Sheldon also wanted to set the trial date for another case, but is holding off after the case was adjourned until Aug. 28.

Leonel Lopez-Sanchez, 45, of 1st Street in Rochester faces numerous felony drug charges for selling and possessing controlled substances.

Lopez-Sanchez is currently in the county jail on $300,000 bail. Sheldon said the case has been in the court since April and she wants it to be resolved.

He has been offered a plea deal that would cap the sentence at 4 years, but he doesn’t want to accept that, his attorney, David Owens, told the judge.

Lopez-Sanchez, a native of Cuba, also could have “deportation issues” if convicted, Assistant DA Susan Howard said.

Lopez-Sanchez has no prior felonies, but was convicted of misdemeanor crimes in Miami, Howard said.

Sheldon said if the sides can’t reach an acceptable agreement with a plea, the case would go to trial.

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Medina man faces drug charges for allegedly selling cocaine, prescription pills

Staff Reports Posted 14 August 2017 at 3:53 pm

Russell E. Sargent

MEDINA – A Medina man has been arrested today on a sealed indictment warrant following an investigation into the sale of cocaine and prescription pills in the Village of Medina, the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force is reporting.

Russell E. Sargent, 50, of 325 West Ave., Apt. 1, has been charged with one count each of criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree (Class B felonies), and two counts each of criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree (Class D felonies).

Sargent was arraigned in Orleans County Court by the Judge Paula L. Feroleto and was committed to the county jail on $2,500 cash bail or $5,000 bond.

He is due to appear back in County Court on Aug. 28 at 2 p.m.

The Task Force said additional charges and arrests are pending in the investigation.

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Judge holds woman with multiple DWIs without bail

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 August 2017 at 1:42 pm

ALBION – The acting Orleans County Court judge decided to hold a Livingston County woman without bail because the judge said she is worried the woman might drive drunk again if she was freed from incarceration.

Sharon Davis, 54, of Geneseo was charged with 4 DWIs in less than three months, including one on April 21 in Barre when she registered a 0.26 percent Blood Alcohol Content.

Former County Court Judge James Punch, who retired on July 29, set bail for Davis at $20,000. Judges in Genesee and Livingston counties, where she has the other DWIs, set bail at $5,000.

Davis is currently an inmate in the Livingston County Jail. She picked up two more DWIs after posting bail from the first two arrests.

“I’m very nervous about her,” said Judge Sara Sheldon, who is acting Criminal Court judge in Orleans County. “This court is now holding her without bail.”

District Attorney Joe Cardone presented a plea offer for Davis where she would face a maximum of 2 ½ to 7 years in prison for the two DWIs in Orleans and Genesee counties. The other two DWIs in Livingston County would be prosecuted separately.

“That’s a gift,” Sheldon said about the offer.

Davis was given until Aug. 28 to consider the offer with her attorney, Christian Kennedy.

In other cases:

• An inmate at the Albion Correctional Facility admitted in Orleans County Court on Monday to attempting to have a drug brought into the prison.

Stacie Calloway, 47, is a Rochester native currently in the women’s prison. On March 26 she attempted to have Alprazolam, a prescription drug used to treat anxiety, be brought into the prison.

Calloway pleaded guilty to attempted promotion of prison contraband in the first degree.

The charge usually carries a 2- to 4-year maximum in prison. As part of a plea, Calloway will face a maximum of 1 ½ to 3 years in prison when she is sentenced on Oct. 23.

• A Rochester man in jail on $300,000 bail asked for his bail to be reduced.

Judge Sheldon told Victor T. Simmons, 46, of Rochester to give her some reasons why the bail should be lowered.

Simmons, through his attorney Mark Lewis, said he wants to see his grandmother who is sick. Simmons also is married with children.

“Three hundred thousand is a large amount,” Lewis said.

Simmons was arraigned on May 8 for 13 counts of drug charges, including six counts each of third-degree criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance, as well as one count of fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Judge Punch set bail at $300,000, citing a 37-page criminal history for Simmons, which includes four felonies in New York State and other out-of-state convictions.

His most recent charges involve selling heroin and cocaine in Albion.

DA Joe Cardone asked that Sheldon continue the bail at $300,000.

After the DA and judge went over the 37-page criminal history and latest charges, Simmons backed off his request for a reduced bail.

“He says it’s OK,” Lewis told the judge.

• An Albion man asked the judge to give him a different assigned counsel.

Joshua D. Biaselli, 33, said his attorney, David Wade, doesn’t believe Biaselli is innocent of the charges. Biaselli said he should have an attorney who doesn’t assume he’s guilty.

Biaselli allegedly stole a car and drove while under the influence of alcohol and drugs on Feb. 10. He has been in jail on $200,000 bail.

Biaselli allegedly crashed the vehicle into a garage on Gulf Road in Murray. He was allegedly driving drunk and high from using cocaine and marijuana.

Biaselli was released from state prison in Elmira in January after serving more than five years in prison for felony DWI, bail jumping and drug convictions.

The judge said Wade has done nothing wrong to warrant removal from the case. Biaselli already was successful in having his first assigned attorney removed from the case.

Wade said a plea offer, for a maximum of 1 ½ to 4 ½ years in state prison, is being rejected by Biaselli who wants the case to go to trial.

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2 are sentenced to state prison on drug charges

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 August 2017 at 11:06 pm

ALBION – Two people were sentenced to state prison today by acting Orleans County Court Judge Sara Sheldon, who presided over a full calendar of cases for the first time following the retirement of James Punch.

Sheldon ruled in favor of one of the defendants by dismissing a weapons charge.

Erika Poole, 37, of Medina was found guilty during a trial that concluded May 12. She was convicted of criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance. During a search of her residence on Salt Works Road, police also found a shotgun.

Poole’s attorney, Jon Ross Wilson, said in court today that Poole notified police that a stolen shotgun was under a mattress. She also gave written consent for a search warrant inside the house.

Wilson said the gun may have been someone else’s or put there by someone besides Poole.

The judge dismissed the weapons charge but and gave Poole three years in state prison for the drug charges. She could have faced five years after being found guilty of three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree (for having cocaine with the intent to sell). She also was found guilty of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree (for having more than 500 milligrams of cocaine). 

The judge ruled the charges would run concurrent or be served at the same time. Poole let out a sigh of relief and a smile when Sheldon made her ruling.

The judge noted several letters of support for Poole, including one from a teacher in the jail through the Orleans-Niagara BOCES. The teacher said Poole is one of her best students – ever. Poole also has taking drug treatment programs through GCASA, and been active in a Bible study program. She has been in the jail for more than a year.

Her attorney said her criminal history in connected to her struggles with substance abuse. Wilson requested a drug treatment program for Poole as part of the sentence.

“She needs the tools to get back on the straight and narrow,” Wilson told the judge. “With the right programs I think she can turn her life around.”

The judge said Poole needs to be mindful of “people, places and things” that can pull her back to addiction.

“Three years is significant for a drug charge,” Sheldon said during sentencing. “This isn’t your first charge. Let it be your last.”

The judge also sentenced Mathew P. Stearns, 34, of Holley to 3 ½ years in prison after he pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree.

That charge could have carried a maximum of eight years in prison, but as part of a plea deal on June 19, the sentence was capped at 3 ½ years.

Stearns admitted in court on June 19 that he sold drugs while living at the Holley Hotel.

He apologized to his family and the community for the crime, and said drugs have cost him everything. He said his drug use went back 25 years.

His attorney David Wade asked the judge to sentence Stearns to the Willard drug treatment program, but Assistant District Attorney Susan Howard objected because Stearns was guilty of selling drugs.

The judge told Stearns he wouldn’t go to Willard, but he could find treatment.

She said Stearns thus far has been a “waste,” with his persistent drug use.

“A huge waste,” Stearns then replied.

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Kendall man, already in prison, will spend more time incarcerated for child pornography

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 August 2017 at 5:55 pm

David Perry Sr.

ALBION – A Kendall man, who is already serving a 4-year sentence for molesting girls, was given an additional 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison for having child pornography on his computer.

David Perry Sr., 68, of Norway Road was sentenced to 4 years in state prison on Dec. 13. He pleaded guilty previously to sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of five girls ranging in age from 13 to 15.

Perry, who is now an inmate at the Elmira Correctional Facility, pleaded guilty in Orleans County Court on April 24 to possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child.

Law enforcement had a search warrant for Perry’s house and computer and discovered approximately 15,000 images of suspected child pornography on Perry’s devices that were submitted for analysis. Many of the images found were children between the ages of 2 and 9 years of age, police said.

In court on April 24, Perry admitted to having downloaded a video showing a prepubescent girl having sex with a man.

Today in court during sentencing Perry said he purchased a used computer and the child pornography was on the computer because of a previous owner.

“I bought a used computer,” Perry told Judge Sara Sheldon. “I didn’t know it was on there.”

“Do I believe you?” Sheldon told Perry. “No.”

She refused a request from Perry’s attorney, Nathan Pace, to have the latest sentence be served at the same time as the original 4-year sentence.

“Not in this court,” Sheldon told Perry. “This isn’t the first time you’ve done this. Your fascination with little girls predates this crime.”

Pace said Perry has “serious health considerations.” Sheldon said she wouldn’t give Perry a break on the sentence.

In addition to additional time in prison, Perry has to pay $1,000 for a supplemental sex offender victim fee, $325 for a court surcharge, $50 for the sex offender registry and $50 for a DNA fee.

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Judge’s final act at County Court: setting bail at $1 million

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 July 2017 at 1:26 pm

ALBION – Orleans County Court Judge James Punch held his final court session today before his retirement after nearly 27 years on the bench.

The judge saw three defendants with Jerry Gray, 44, the last person on the court calendar.

He appeared before Punch on a bail application hearing.

Gray, who listed East Oak Orchard Street in Medina as his address, has been charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree, burglary in the second degree, petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree.

He allegedly broke into a house in Medina and stole items.

Gray has five prior felonies, five failures to appear in court and has had his probation and parole revoked.

“He could be looking at life in prison as a persistent felon,” Punch said in court.

The judge set bail at $500,000 cash and $1 million bond.

He also sentenced a Medina teen-ager to four years in prison today for second-degree assault and gave a conditional discharge to a man who violated an order of protection by sending a text message.

The judge told that man to be careful and not respond to the victim, especially if he’s angry.

“If you do it again you’ll probably end up in jail,” Punch said.

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Medina teen sentenced to 4 years in prison for ‘extremely senseless’ assault

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 July 2017 at 1:13 pm

ALBION – A Medina teen was sentenced to 4 years in state prison today by Orleans County Court Judge James Punch after a vicious assault on Nov. 6.

Lucas Porter, 18, admitted to stabbing a Buffalo man near his heart and lung at a house party on Nov. 6 in Ridgeway.

Porter just missed stabbing the man in his heart, but did puncture his lungs. The victim was hospitalized in intensive care for 10 days. He recovered enough to have the charges downgraded from first-degree to second-degree assault.

“This was extremely senseless and a serious situation,” District Attorney Joe Cardone said during sentencing today.

Cardone said that Porter, an all-star football player for Medina’s varsity team, “has many positives in his life.”

Porter’s attorney Nathan Pace said Porter wishes he could rewind those 10-15 seconds.

“We’re grateful the victim has recovered,” Pace said.

Porter accepted a plea deal in Orleans County Court on April 10. Second-degree assault normally carries a maximum of 7 years in state prison. Porter, as part of the plea deal, faced up to 4 years in state prison.

Punch gave Porter the maximum as part of the plea deal.

The judge said this wasn’t Porter’s first felony. Porter had been on probation after being charged with a burglary in Albion in March 2015.

He has been serving a 1- to 3-year sentence at Elmira Correctional Facility for the probation violation. That sentence will run concurrent with the 4-year sentence from today.

“It only takes a few seconds and that’s why you’re here,” Punch said. “In that short period of time you nearly killed someone.”

The judge said Porter’s lack of control makes him dangerous, and a similar crime could happen again.

The judge also set a $25,376 judgement against Porter to pay restitution, including a $22,741 bill to Mercy Flight and nearly $3,000 in other medical costs for the victim.

Porter also needs to pay restitution for damaging a car. That includes a $500 out-of-pocket deductible for the car’s owner and $1,599 to Progressive Insurance.

In addition to the 4 years in prison, Porter was sentenced to 3 years of post-release supervision.

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