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county court

2 plead guilty for having drugs brought into Orleans Correctional Facility

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 October 2017 at 11:21 am

ALBION – Two people admitted they tried to have drugs brought into the Orleans Correctional Facility, a medium-security men’s prison on Gaines Basin Road.

Jaquan Hill, 22, of Suffolk County is serving a six-year sentence for first-degree burglary. A trial against him for promoting prison contraband in the first degree was set to start on Monday. A jury had been seated.

Hill, who had rejected plea offers in the case, decided to plead guilty to a reduced charge of attempted prison contraband in the second degree. The charge normally carries as a maximum of 2 to 4 years in prison. As part of a plea agreement, Hill will face a maximum of 1 ½ to 3years in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 8.

A woman who brought drugs to the prison to give to Hill also pleaded guilty on Monday to promoting prison contraband in the second degree, a misdemeanor that normally carries a maximum of a year in jail.

Kamaljot Kaur, 25, of Coram (eastern New York) was sentenced to time served in jail. She faces other more serious charges in another jurisdiction.

Kaur apologized for bringing drugs into the local prison.

“There’s no excuse for it,” she told Sara Sheldon, the acting Orleans County Court judge. “I didn’t think it through. I’m not a person who normally deals drugs. I was in a rough spot.”

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2 from Albion face charges for allegedly selling heroin, cocaine

Staff Reports Posted 17 October 2017 at 10:51 am

Pete W. Leiben

ALBION – Two people were charged on Monday after an investigation into the sale and distribution of heroin and cocaine from the city of Rochester to the Albion area, the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force reported.

Teaira L. Reamsnyder

The Task Force and the Albion Police Department on Monday arrested an Albion couple on charges of possession with intent to sell after a vehicle stop on South Main Street in the Village of Albion.

Task Force members seized a small safe disguised as a reading book that contained a quantity of heroin and cocaine packaged for sale, the Task Force reported today.

Police arrested:

Pete W. Leiben, 39, and Teaira L. Reamsnyder, 22, both of 27 North St. They both have been charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree (Class B felonies) and one count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree (a Class B felony).

Leiben and Reamsnyder were arraigned in Albion Town Court by the Town Justice Joseph Fuller, and were both committed to the Orleans County Jail on $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond. Both are to return to Town Court on Oct. 18 at 9 a.m.

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Murray man claims innocence and will go to trial for sex abuse

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 October 2017 at 8:27 am

ALBION – A Murray man declined a plea offer on Monday that would have reduced the charges of first-degree sex abuse to attempted sex abuse.

Joseph Quarella, 41, of Skyline Circle is accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl between July and December 2016.

A plea offer from District Attorney Joe Cardone would have reduced the maximum charge from a violent felony to a non-violent crime.

Quarella was asked by Sara Sheldon, the acting Orleans County Court judge, if he would accept the offer.

“No,” he said. “I’m not because I didn’t do anything.”

Judge Sheldon then set Nov. 13 for a trial against Quarella. He was arraigned on May 22 for two counts of rape in the first degree, two counts of rape in the third degree, two counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, one count of endangering the welfare of a child, and six counts of sexual abuse in the third degree.

He has been in jail since then on bail of $250,000.

In other cases in County Court:

• A Rochester man was sentenced to six months in jail and five years probation for grand larceny in the fourth degree.

Devon Robinson, 23, admitted in a past court appearance that he part of a break-in with a truck where $8,000 in cash was stolen. Robinson said he smashed the window of a truck in Clarendon on Oct. 19, 2016.

There are two other codefendants in the crime. The judge ordered Robinson to pay a third of the $8,000 restitution or $2,666.

• Matthew Engert, 26, of Holley pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, an A misdemeanor, for punching another inmate in the head at the Orleans County Jail on Feb. 14.

Engert faces up to a year in the county jail when he is sentenced on Dec. 18.

• Jason M. Hirtreiter, 29, of Medina pleaded guilty to obstruction of governmental administration in the second degree, which has a maximum sentence of a year in jail.

Hirtreiter admitted in court that on May 13 he pulled a witness away from two Medina police officers who were trying to interview the person. He will be sentenced on Dec. 18.

• A Rochester man had to be led out of court by several Orleans County Sheriff’s deputies after he screamed expletives and pounded his fists on a table.

Victor T. Simmons, 46, is facing 13 counts of drug charges for allegedly selling heroin and cocaine in Albion.

Simmons was upset Monday because he said one of his motions or court filings wasn’t submitted by his attorney, Mark Lewis.

“I have a f—— Constitutional right to be heard,” Simmons yelled.

Judge Sheldon told him all of his arguments can be heard at trial.

Simmons said he was “being bullied” with the threat of a trial. He became angry and was led out of the courtroom by deputies. Simmons yelled more expletives on the way out.

Lewis, the attorney, asked the judge to release him from representing Simmons. Lewis is the second attorney to work with Simmons on the case after Simmons claimed the the first one wasn’t doing a good enough job.

“I’m at wit’s end with this guy,” Lewis told the judge. “I don’t want to be subjected to this anymore.”

Judge Sheldon asked Lewis to give it one more try. If a new attorney was appointed to the case, that lawyer would likely have the same challenges, she said.

She said she would read over the grand jury transcripts in the case and have Simmons back in court on Oct. 23.

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Rochester man arrested for allegedly selling heroin in Orleans County

Staff Reports Posted 6 October 2017 at 10:48 am

Troy Dukes

ALBION – A Rochester man faces multiple charges after a traffic stop on Thursday in Albion, when he allegedly was found with heroin, the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force reported..

Troy L. Dukes, 24, of Post Avenue in Rochester allegedly was selling heroin in Orleans County. He was stopped on East State Street in Albion and arrested by the Albion Police Department and the Task Force.

Dukes faces 2 counts each of criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, which are Class B felonies. He also was charged with two counts of unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree because there were two 2-year-old children in the back seat of the vehicle at the time of the vehicle stop and his arrest, the Task Force reported today.

The Task Force said Duke’s driver’s license has been suspended 19 times. He faces additional charges.

He was arraigned in Albion Town Court by Dawn Keppler, the Shelby town justice. Dukes was committed to the county jail on bail at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond. Dukes is to return to Albion Town Court at 9 a.m. on Oct. 10.

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2 arraigned for burglaries in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 October 2017 at 9:56 am

ALBION – A former Middleport resident was arraigned in Orleans County Court on Monday for two burglaries in the county from about three years ago.

Nichole Hart, 26, allegedly broke into a house on Creek Road in Shelby on Dec. 3, 2014 and Dec. 28, 2014 on East Lee Road in Barre. She allegedly took five firms arms, $6,000 in cash, and a laptop. She also allegedly damaged a window.

She faces charges of two counts of second-degree burglary, grand larceny in the first and fourth degrees, petit larceny, and criminal mischief in the fourth degree.

Hart had been living in New York City for about two years. She was in a residential drug treatment program in New York and a judicial diversion program after being arrested for grand larceny in the city.

She was extradited to Orleans County in July to face the charges related to the two burglaries in December 2014.

Her attorney, Christopher Privateer, said the case against Hart is “tenuous at best.” There is no evidence tying her to the Shelby burglary, he said. A flashlight dropped at the scene in Shelby included DNA that doesn’t match Hart’s, Privateer said.

The attorney said Hart was doing well in the treatment and diversion programs at New York City. She also has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. He asked that Hart be released from jail so she can stay with her mother and get needed medical care.

District Attorney Joe Cardone said the case against Hart is strong. Another person was allegedly involved in the burglaries. Hart was allegedly with that person in a stolen car when the stolen guns were seized. A video also shows Hart carrying some of the stolen items, Cardone said.

The $6,000 hasn’t been recovered, the DA said.

“When she fled the area, she clearly knew police were hot on her trail,” Cardone said.

The DA asked the judge to set bail at $200,000 because Hart “is a tremendous flight risk.”

Judge Sara Sheldon set bail at $50,000 cash and $100,000 bond.

In other cases on Monday:

• The judge arraigned Jerry Gray, who was arrested on July 26 and charged with eight counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree, burglary in the second degree, petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree.

He has been in jail since the arrest on $500,000 cash bail and $1 million bond.

Gray, 44, has five prior felonies, five failures to appear in court and has had his probation and parole revoked. His 19 prior arrests include unlawful chases with police, and auto thefts.

“This is one of the longest rap sheets I’ve ever seen,” Judge Sheldon said. “That’s kind of sad.”

Gray was arraigned on Monday for second- and third-degree burglary. His attorney, Dominic Saraceno, asked that bail be set at $25,000. The latest burglaries didn’t involved any violence, Saraceno said.

The judge said second-degree burglary is considered a violent crime. She set bail at $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond.

• An Albion man was accepted into a judicial diversion program. The program is normally a year. But for Jacob Marks, the program will be at least two years.

He needs to stay off drugs and not break any laws during that time. If he can’t follow the rules, Judge Sheldon told Marks he would go to state prison where he would face a maximum sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years for third-degree grand larceny.

If he completes the program, the felony charge will be dismissed and he will face a maximum of three years on probation.

Marks, 28, of Densmore Street pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny and petit larceny. He admitted to taking a credit card and jewelry from the victim in the crime and spending $38,2160 in unauthorized purchases from September 2016 to April 2017. He needs to pay restitution at the full amount.

Sheldon accepted Marks into the diversion program despite recommendations against him from probation, the DA’s Office and GCASA. Marks has tried programs before and failed three times. He did complete one drug treatment program.

He told the judge he has struggled with drug addiction since he was 16.

He and his wife have a newborn child. The baby is giving Marks added incentive to stay off drugs, he told the judge.

She ordered him to go into an in-patient drug treatment program right away.

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Mesiti assessed as level 2 sex offender

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 October 2017 at 10:21 pm

Attorney for former security officer at Holley school requested lower level offender status

Adam Mesiti

ALBION – A former security officer at Holley schools was assessed a level 2 sex offender in Orleans County Court today.

That means Adam Mesiti will be publicly registered as a sex offender, and must notify law enforcement of any changes in his address and provide recent photos every three years for the database that is available online.

Mesiti, a retired sergeant with the Brockport Police Department, took a part-time job in retirement as a security officer with C.O.P. Security, working at Holley Central School. While working that job he had sex with a Holley student in 2014, beginning when she was 16.

District Attorney Joe Cardone said in court today there were multiple incidents of sexual activity with Mesiti and the girl, and they occurred at his office in the Holley school.

Judge Sara Sheldon went through a series of questions that determine the point total in assessing a sex offender. A level 1 offender has fewer than 70 points. That person is a registered sex offender but isn’t in the public registry. A level 1 offender can be removed from the state sex offender registry after 20 years.

A level 2 offender has 70 to 110 points and is publicly listed as a sex offender. A level 2 offender can petition to be removed after 30 years.

A level 3 offender has more than 110 points and is in the public registry and will never be removed while the offender is alive.

Mesiti’s points added up to 85, making him a level 2 offender. He scored 25 points for having sex with a victim, 20 more points for a continuing course of conduct with the victim (it happened more than once), 20 points for having sex with a victim aged 11 to 16 (she was 16), and 20 more because the relationship arose in the context of a professional or avocational relationship between the offender and the victim and was an abuse of that relationship.

Kennedy argued the last 20 shouldn’t have counted because Mesiti wasn’t in a professional role. District Attorney Joe Cardone and County Court Judge Sara Sheldon said Mesiti clearly used his role as a security officer to gain access and trust of the victim.

Kennedy also said the initial sexual contact with the girl happened when she was 16. She then turned 17 as the relationship continued. He said the 20 points for a victim aged 11 to 16 shouldn’t count for Mesiti. Cardone said the victim gave grand jury testimony that the sexual relationship happened several times while she was 16.

The DA said Mesiti’s point total should be higher than 85. An offender should get 10 points for not accepting responsibility for the crime, which Cardone said is the case with Mesiti.

Kennedy said the judge could still assess Mesiti as a level 1 offender, even though the point total was at 85. Kennedy said Mesiti has strong support from the Brockport community as evidienced by numerous letters of support. Kennedy said Mesiti would never commit another sex crime.

“He has the support of the community, from his family, friends and neighbors,” Kennedy said. “This was an isolated event.”

The judge and DA both opposed the level 1 ranking.

One of Mesiti’s supporters shouted in court that Cardone was corrupt and had coerced a guilty plea out of Mesiti.

“I think you better not say that in court, mam,” Judge Sheldon told the Mesiti supporter.

Mesiti on May 22 pleaded guilty to third-degree rape. He was sentenced to 10 years probation on Aug. 28. His guilty plea included the possibility of six months in jail, but Judge Sheldon decided against any jail time.

One term of his probation is to stay away from alcohol. Mesiti is co-owner of the Five Sons Winery in Brockport. Judge Sheldon agreed to waive the probation condition that Mesiti stay away from alcohol.

“I’m not going to take away his livelihood,” she said.

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Albion man arraigned for assault after allegedly causing serious injuries on June 9

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 October 2017 at 5:49 pm

ALBION – An Albion man was arraigned in Orleans County Court this afternoon for first- and second-degree assault after he allegedly seriously injured another Albion man on June 9.

Wesley Askew

Wesley Askew, 49, has been in jail on $250,000 since being arraigned June 9 after the alleged incident. Orleans County Court Judge Sara Sheldon kept bail at $250,000 during arraignment this afternoon. Askew appeared with his attorney, Larry Koss, and entered a not guilty plea.

Askew allegedly got into an altercation at 1:45 a.m. on June 9 at 175 North Main St., an apartment building. Askew allegedly assaulted another resident in the building, Joseph A. Julyan, 53, who sustained serious head injuries.

“The injuries caused were egregious,” Assistant District Attorney Susan Howard told the judge.

Julyan was allegedly punched several times by Askew. Julyan tried to defend a woman in the apartment and to calm down Askew, who punched Julyan so hard that Askew broke bones in his hand and wrist. He was treated for his injuries at the Erie County Medical Center.

Askew is a level 3 sex offender, the highest possible risk for re-offending. He was released from prison in late 2015 after being convicted in May 2009 for second-degree rape.

The judge set Feb. 20 as a trial date in the assault case.

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3 plead guilty to drug crimes in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 September 2017 at 9:36 am

ALBION – Three people admitted to drug crimes on Monday in Orleans County Court.

• Dale M. Jones, 47, of Rochester admitted he had cocaine with the intent to sell it in Orleans County on June 21. He pleaded guilty on Monday to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree.

Because he is a second felony offender, Jones could have faced a maximum of 4 years in state prison. However, as part of a plea deal, he will face a maximum of three years in prison when he is sentenced on Dec. 18. He also has to pay $150 restitution to the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force.

Two other defendants were approved for a judicial diversion program. If they complete drug treatment and stay off drugs, they will see the felony charges dismissed and instead be sentenced to probation.

Charles J. Knapp, 48, of Medina was arrested on March 1 after an investigation into the sale and distribution of prescription pills (Aprazolam).

He pleaded guilty on Monday to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree. As a first-time felony offender, Knapp would face a maximum of 1 to 2 ½ years in state prison.

However, if he completes the diversion program, the felony would be dismissed and he would be sentenced to misdemeanor criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, which carries a maximum of three years on probation.

“It’s an intense program,” Sara Sheldon, interim County Court judge, told Knapp about the diversion program.

He will be on interim probation. He also has to pay $100 restitution to the Task Force.

Cynthia Lopez-Lopez, 39, of Brockport also was accepted into the diversion program. She was arrested in April after allegedly selling suboxone in Albion. She pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, which carries a maximum of 1 to 2 ½ years in prison as a first-time felon. However, if she completes the diversion program, the felony will be dismissed and she will be sentenced to a misdemeanor drug crime with up to three years of probation.

“If you fail at the program you’re looking at state prison,” Judge Sheldon told Lopez-Lopez.

She also has to pay $40 restitution to the Task Force.

The judge also set an Oct. 16 hearing to consider the diversion program for a Medina man with past felony crimes.

Russell E. Sargent, 50, faces several felony drug charges after he allegedly sold cocaine and prescription pills in August.

District Attorney Joe Cardone said he opposes the diversion program for Sargent, given his past criminal history.

• The judge also arraigned Michael E. McKee, 30, of Cazenovia for aggravated felony driving while intoxicated, and two counts of felony DWI.

McKee was charged on July 14 in Carlton and had a 0.29 percent Blood Alcohol Content, more than three times the legal limit. The judge kept bail at $2,000 and took McKee’s driver’s license while the case is pending.

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Judge sets trial for inmate accused of having drugs in prison

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 September 2017 at 11:29 am

ALBION – A state inmate at the Orleans Correctional Facility will go to trial beginning Oct. 16 for promoting prison contraband in the first degree.

Jaquan Hill, 22, is from Suffolk County. He is serving a six-year sentence for first-degree burglary.

He allegedly had drugs in his possession in the prison. He has rejected any plea offers.

Sara Sheldon, the acting Orleans County Court judge, set Oct. 16 for the trial, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

“I’m excited,” Judge Sheldon said Monday, when announcing the trial date.

In other cases on Monday:

• The judge arraigned Frank Ranallo for violation of probation. Ranallo, 47, of Medina hasn’t been attending substance abuse and mental health counseling appointments. He also was using drugs, a violation of his probation, Assistant District Attorney Susan Howard said.

Ranallo on Jan. 23 was sentenced to six months in jail for attempted burglary in the second degree after he admitted to entering a house on Salt Words Road without permission and took two guns.

Judge Sheldon set bail at $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond.

• An Albion man is being considered for a judicial diversion program, which would result in a reduction in a felony charge if he can complete the program.

Jacob T. Marks, 28, of Densmore Street faces charges of third-degree grand larceny and petit larceny. He allegedly took a credit card and jewelry from the victim in the crime and spent $38,000 in unauthorized purchases from September 2016 to April 2017.

Assistant DA Susan Howard said she opposed the diversion for Marks because he has been on it before and reoffended.

Judge Sheldon set an Oct. 2 hearing for Marks to be considered for the program.

• The judge sentenced a Middleport woman to three years of probation for criminal possession of a controlled substance. Sherri L. Bartenstein, 36, allegedly sold Clonazepam, which is used to treat anxiety or panic disorders. She is in a substance abuse program.

“Good luck, Sherri,” the judge said.

“Thank you. I won’t be back,” Bartenstein said.

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Holley resident pleads guilty to 1st degree sex abuse, could face 5 years in prison

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 September 2017 at 1:15 pm

ALBION – A Holley resident pleaded guilty in Orleans County Court on Monday to first-degree sexual abuse.

David L. Durbano, 32, of Ridge Road admitted to sexual contact with a girl under age 11 in April.

The charge normally carries a maximum sentence of 2 to 7 years in state prison. As part of a plea deal, Durbano will face up to 5 years in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 27.

He could also face 3 to 10 years of post-release supervision and will be a registered sex offender.

Durbano pleaded guilty to the highest charge in the indictment.

In other cases:

• Kenya L. Yawn, 22, of Rochester pleaded guilty to petit larceny for stealing about $2,000 from the Albion Walmart Supercenter on March 2. Yawn allegedly took a television, modem, Fitbits, hard drives and other items from the store.

District Attorney Joe Cardone asked Yawn who was in the vehicle with her to help with the crime.

“That’s for me to know and for you to find out,” she replied.

The terms of her plea did not include cooperating with the investigation, but Judge Sara Sheldon said she would take any assistance into account when sentencing Yawn.

Yawn faces a maximum of a year in jail when she is sentenced on Jan. 8.

• A 17-year-old girl from Rochester pleaded guilty to promoting prison contraband in the second degree. The girl, who could be given youthful offender status, allegedly tried to pass heroin and Alprazolam (also known as Xanax) to two inmates at the Albion Correctional Facility, a women’s prison, on March 26.

She could face up to a year in jail when she is sentenced on Dec. 18.

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