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Local courts largely shut down with cases adjourned

Photos by Tom Rivers: The main courtroom at the Orleans County Courthouse is seeing far fewer cases due to the coronavirus health concerns.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 March 2020 at 1:00 pm

ALBION – The court system is largely on hiatus until further notice due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

In Orleans County, the 10 town court systems are closed. The county court system has adjourned cases to May 1 with no trials scheduled and the grand jury suspended.

A 1-gallon jug of hand sanitizer made by state inmates is placed on the metal detectors leading to the hallway in the courthouse. Many of the local government offices have hand sanitizer made by state inmates.

Judge Sanford Church is handling arraignments from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday. The local town justices may be called for arraignments outside of the 9 to 5 time frame.

Judges will also issue orders of protection and address any license issues, for example if someone has a license suspended due to a driving while intoxicated charge.

Lawrence Marks, chief administrative judge of NYS Unified Court System, has advised the courts of the procedures “to reduce courthouse traffic to combat spread of coronavirus and protect the health and safety of our workforce,” according to a letter on March 13.

Attorneys are urged to use Skype and other videoconferencing, or teleconferencing to discuss cases with clients.

Court dates have been moved back in the court calendar. Defendants will be notified of new court dates by the town and county court facilities.

“All other business not deemed urgent has been put off until courts are back in session,” said District Attorney Joe Cardone.

County Court was held briefly this morning for Judge Church to do one arraignment and consider two extraditions.

Cardone said the county’s traffic diversion program will continue while the town and county courts are largely on hold.

Most traffic tickets can be handled online and doesn’t involve court involvement.

Although the Public Safety Building is closed to the public, Cardone said the offices at the building are staffed and can be reached by telephone.

The county website, www.orleansny.com, is currently undergoing maintenance so the link isn’t available for the traffic diversion program. For more information, contact the District Attorney’s office at (585) 590-4130.

This sign leading to the entrance for the Orleans County court system urges people to consider if they have any symptoms of coronavirus before opening the door.

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Inmate pleads guilty to assault on corrections officer

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 March 2020 at 11:28 am

ALBION – A former inmate at the Orleans Correctional Facility in Albion pleaded guilty to attempted assault in the second degree.

Michael Hawkins entered an Alford plea in Orleans County Court, where he maintained his innocence but didn’t want to risk going to trial and being found guilty of second-degree assault, which has a maximum sentence of 7 years in prison.

“I don’t want to take the chance of going to trial and being found guilty,” said Hawkins, who is now an inmate at Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone, Franklin County.

Hawkins, in court last week, acknowledged there was an incident between him and a corrections officer on Jan. 2, 2018. But he told Judge Sanford Church there wasn’t contact with the CO. The judge asked Hawkins if he intended to injure the corrections officer and Hawkins said, “No.”

District Attorney Joe Cardone said there is testimony and videotape of Hawkins where the footage shows him resisting corrections officers during an extraction procedure in Hawkins’ cell, which was done when the inmate allegedly wasn’t following the prison rules.

A corrections officer suffered a laceration to the face and was exposed to blood and bodily fluids from Hawkins, Cardone said.

The corrections officer suffered substantial pain and missed work for several months, Cardone said.

As part of the plea agreement, Hawkins will face a maximum of an additional 1 ½ to 3 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 28.

• In court this morning, Judge Church arraigned Derrick Hildreth, 42, of Albion for two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. Hildreth on Dec. 5 allegedly had cocaine with the intent to sell it. He was released on his own recognizance this morning.

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Albion man rejects plea offer in attempted murder case

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 March 2020 at 4:55 pm

CARLTON – An Albion man rejected a plea offer today that would have capped his prison sentence at 10 years for attempted murder in the second-degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second.

Scott A. Foley, 52, was arraigned on Feb. 20 for attempted murder in the second degree, which carries a maximum of 25 years in prison.

He allegedly fired two shots from a rifle on Jan. 2 at Roadies Pizzeria and Sports Bar on Route 98.

Foley also is facing charges of criminal possession of a weapon in the second and third degrees, reckless endangerment in the first degree, and driving while intoxicated.

District Attorney Joe Cardone said Foley showed a depraved indifference to human life by firing the rifle twice from his vehicle in the parking lot. One of the rounds was recovered inside the pizzeria and sports bar.

Foley was at Roadies and was asked to leave by one of the co-owners after a “disturbance,” Cardone said on Feb. 20.

Foley left and returned, allegedly shooting a rifle from the parking lot. Cardone said the incident was unprovoked and “an extremely serious situation.”

Foley has been in the county jail since his arrest with bail currently set at $15,000 cash or $75,000 bond. He appeared in court today with his attorney, Jim Doyle. They were presented the plea offer but declined it.

Doyle said he is preparing motions or arguments to file in the case.

In other cases in court today:

Tashira Allee, 36, of Medina pleaded guilty to criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree. She could face up to a year in the county jail when she is sentenced on May 14.

Allee admitted in court to Judge Church she had a stolen trailer on July 21.

“Did you possess with the intent to benefit yourself and not the owner?” Judge Church asked her.

“Yes,” Allee responded.

She is a co-defendant in a case with her husband, Anthony Allee. He also is facing federal charges. He has been charged with possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, marijuana, hydrocodone, and cocaine, unlawful possession of a machine gun, and unlawful possession of a stolen firearm, which carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 30 years in prison and a maximum of life.

With the stolen trailer, Mrs. Allee today agreed to pay “reasonable restitution,” an amount to be determined.

• A Cobleskill man was arraigned in for third-degree rape, two counts of sexual abuse in the third degree, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and criminal sex act in the third degree.

Ronald R. Cook Jr., 35, allegedly had sex with a 15-year-old girl who he met through the 4-H program. He entered not guilty pleas to the charges.

He has no prior criminal history. The judge set bail at $10,000 cash and $25,000 bond.

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Man in Ridgeway standoff arraigned for that incident, plus 4 counts of rape

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 March 2020 at 2:37 pm

ALBION — A man involved in an 11-hour standoff in Knowlesville in December was arraigned in Orleans County today for multiple charges in that incident, as well as additional charges of rape for alleged crimes in November 2018.

Edward Loper

Edward Loper, 31, was taken into custody at 2:48 a.m. on Dec. 4 after a standoff with law enforcement at 3634 Knowlesville Rd. Deputies were dispatched to the site at 4:46 p.m. on Dec. 3 with reports of a disturbance.

The first arriving law enforcement officers found a large crowd outside the residence and learned a person had been assaulted and mini-14 rifle and a shotgun had been stolen. Loper went back inside the residence after threatening to kill the people in the front yard, deputies said then.

A perimeter was then established by the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office and State Police. The Orleans County Multi-Agency SWAT was then requested to the scene when the law enforcement on the scene were unable to make contact with Loper.

An Orleans County Sheriff’s investigator and negotiator from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office were able to make contact with Loper. After an hours-long phone conversation with Loper, and several tactics used by the SWAT teams on scene, Loper agreed to come out of the residence. He came out of the front door and was taken into custody at 2:48 a.m. on Dec. 4.

This morning he was arraigned for third-degree assault, second-degree menacing, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, second-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree robbery, fourth-degree grand larceny and criminal mischief in the fourth degree.

He faced an additional felony indictment this morning for four counts of second-degree rape and one count of endangering the welfare of a child. Loper allegedly had sex four times with a 14-year-old girl in November 2018.

Loper, represented by attorney Michael O’Keefe, entered not guilty pleas this morning before Judge Sanford Church.

The judge set bail at $10,000 cash and $50,000 bond for Loper, who is in the Orleans County Jail. The judge said bail was necessary “given the nature of the charges” and Loper’s criminal history, which includes two parole violations and 12 misdemeanors.

The judge also approved an order of protection for the alleged victim with the rape charges.

Loper is to appear in County Court on March 19.

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Holley man gets 1 to 3 years in prison for probation violation

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 February 2020 at 4:44 pm

ALBION – A Holley resident was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in state prison today by Orleans County Court Judge Sanford Church.

Roger Scroger, 39, was on probation for a felony driving while intoxicated conviction in Monroe County.

District Attorney Joe Cardone said Scroger violated his probation after being charged with another DWI, failing to report to probation for multiple appointments, driving without an interlock ignition device, and using marijuana, cocaine and drinking alcohol.

Joanne Best, the public defender, asked the judge to not sentence Scroger to incarceration so he could continue running a tree service business to pay bills for his family. If the judge determined incarceration was needed, Best said Scroger could be sentenced to weekends so he could continue working.

Scroger also asked the judge for leniency at the sentencing this morning.

Judge Church declined those requests and revoked probation and sentenced Scroger to prison.

In other cases today:

Frank Capen, 28, of Medina pleaded guilty to aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated.

Capen was charged on May 25 and registered a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.12 percent.

He was previously convicted of driving while ability impaired on Aug. 8, 2018 in Shelby and had his driver’s license revoked.

As part of a plea agreement today, Capen will face up to a year in the county jail when he is sentenced on April 23.

• A Medina woman was arraigned for third-degree arson for allegedly setting her house on fire on May 11 on Gwinn Street.

Kelly Morrison, 46, also faces charges of insurance fraud 2nd, class C felony; aggravated cruelty to animals (2 counts), felony; and criminal mischief 4th, class A misdemeanor.

Her arrest was made about nine months after the fire at her home on Gwinn Street. She entered a not guilty plea at court today.

She was released on her own recognizance.

• An Albion man was arraigned on six counts for his alleged role in two break-ins. James Gursslin, 18, of King Street allegedly joined two other people in break-ins at a used car business on Ridge Road in Ridgeway and a bottle/can redemption center on Hamilton Street in Albion.

Gursslin was arraigned on two counts of burglary in the third degree, one count of grand larceny in the fourth degree, two counts of criminal mischief in in the third degree, and one count of petit larceny.

He was recently charged with a burglary in the Village of Albion that isn’t part of the arraignment today.

He was released on his own recognizance from County Court because the charges don’t meet the state’s new guidelines for bail.

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Charges upgraded to attempted murder for man who allegedly fired at Carlton pizzeria

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 February 2020 at 3:16 pm

CARLTON – An Albion man was arraigned for attempted murder in the second-degree for after he allegedly fired two shots from a rifle on Jan. 2 at Roadies Pizzeria and Sports Bar on Route 98.

Scott A. Foley, 52, also was arraigned in Orleans County Court today on charges of criminal possession of a weapon in the second and third degrees, reckless endangerment in the first degree, and driving while intoxicated.

The charge of attempted murder in the second degree carries a maximum of 25 years in prison. It is a more serious charge from when Foley was arrested on Jan. 2 with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree the most serious charge.

District Attorney Joe Cardone said Foley showed a depraved indifference to human life by firing the rifle twice from his vehicle in the parking lot. One of the rounds was recovered inside the pizzeria and sports bar.

Foley was at Roadies and was asked to leave by one of the co-owners after a “disturbance,” Cardone said.

Foley left and returned, allegedly shooting a rifle from the parking lot.

Cardone said the incident was unprovoked and “an extremely serious situation.”

Foley has been in the county jail since his arrest. His attorney, Jim Doyle, asked that bail be set at $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond. He said Foley isn’t a flight risk and would makes all of his court appearances.

Judge Sanford Church set bail at $15,000 cash or $75,000 bond. The judge also issued two orders of protections for a co-owner of Roadies and an employee.

• In another case today, a 17-year-old boy from Albion was arraigned on several counts for his role in allegedly being part of break-ins at a used car business on Ridge Road in Ridgeway and a bottle/can redemption center on Hamilton Street in Albion.

The boy, who is expected to get youthful offender status, was arraigned on two counts of burglary in the third degree, one count of grand larceny in the fourth degree, two counts of criminal mischief in in the third degree, and one count of petit larceny. He is one of three co-defendants in the case.

• The judge also issued a warrant for Jason Pullen, 35, of Rochester who has missed his last three court appearances. He was arraigned on Dec. 12 for grand larceny in the fourth degree for allegedly stealing a trailer.

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Former CO at Albion prison sentenced to 6 months in jail for sex act with inmate

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 February 2020 at 2:33 pm

ALBION – A former corrections officer at the Albion Correctional Facility was sentenced today to six months in the Orleans County Jail, plus 10 years of probation for a criminal sex act with an inmate.

David F. Stupnick, 26, of Medina also will have to register as a sex offender. A hearing was set for April 9 to determine what level he will be as a sex offender.

Stupnick pleaded guilty on Dec. 12 to criminal sex act with an inmate in the third degree. He allegedly had inappropriate sexual relations with two female inmates at the Albion Correctional Facility.

Orleans County Court Judge Sanford Church issued orders of protection for the two victims.

Stupnick was arrested on May 17 by State Police and was charged with four counts of sex abuse in the 2nd degree, two counts each of criminal sex act in the 3rd degree and official misconduct.

His attorney, Cheryl Meyers Buth, asked for no jail time and only probation and community service. She said Stupnick has lost a $70,000 a year job and been prominently featured in the news throughout Western New York since his arrest. She said he fell victim to his emotions with the crime.

District Attorney Joe Cardone asked for jail time, saying corrections officers are well educated by the state Department of Corrections that they are not to have any sexual relations with inmates.

“This stuff wasn’t appropriate,” Church said during Stupnick’s sentencing. “There has to be penalties for type of conduct.”

The judge also imposed $1,425 in court fees and fines on Stupnick, including $1,000 for a sex offender victim fee, $300 for a court surcharge, $50 for a DNA database fee and $25 for a crime victim’s fee.

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Inmate gets more prison time for assaulting CO

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 February 2020 at 10:12 am

ALBION – A former inmate at the Albion Correctional Facility was sentenced to another 1 ½ to 3 years in state prison for second-degree assault.

Aniah Ferguson, 21, admitted to striking a corrections officer with a closed fist several times on Feb. 15, 2019.

Ferguson was taken to the emergency room at Medina Memorial Hospital on Feb. 15. While in the bathroom, her mechanical restraints were removed from one wrist. When a female correction officer tried to put the restraint back on, Ferguson punched her several times with her free hand, causing injuries to the CO’s head, including a bloody nose, and contusions to her eye, face and head.

Ferguson has since been transferred to Bedford Hills. Ferguson is in prison after an incident in 2015 when she led an attack on a 16-year-old girl at a McDonald’s in Brooklyn. When she was at Rikers Island, Ferguson assaulted a captain at the New York City jail.

In other cases in Orleans County Court on Thursday:

Kevin Cowley, 51, of Albion was sentenced to 8 weekends in the county jail plus three years of probation for petit larceny.

Cowley allegedly stole cans of a computer spray from the Albion Walmart. He was banned from entering the store when he took the items on June 20.

Cowley’s attorney, Nathan Pace, said Cowley suffers from PTSD. He is seeking treatment.

Cowley didn’t deny he took the items from Walmart.

“I made a mistake,” he said.

Judge Sanford Church said Cowley isn’t to go to Walmart again as part of the sentence.

• An Albion man pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted burglary in the third degree, for his role in two break-ins. He will be screened for a drug diversion court. If he is accepted and completes the program, the felonies will be dismissed and he will instead be charged with misdemeanors.

Alexander Rotoli, 19, was with two codefendants on Aug. 19. He said he served as the lookout while the two others broke into a can redemption center on Hamilton Street. They stole a cash register. Rotoli said he received $150.

The trio also broke into a used car dealership on Ridge Road in Ridgeway, taking cash and computer equipment, Rotoli said he received $300-$400 from that break-in.

He is to soon start a treatment program at the Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse.

Jacob Harbaugh, 29, of Niagara Falls was arraigned on burglary in the third degree, grand larceny in the third degree, and two counts of criminal mischief in the fourth degree.

He and two codefendants stealing three dirt bikes from a Ridgeway garage on Oct. 16, 2018.

One codefendant, Carlton Cook-Mckee, has already been sentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison for burglary and grand larceny.

Another codefendant, Michael Dubuc, last month pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the fourth-degree.

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Albion man sentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison for unlawful surveillance

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 February 2020 at 8:55 pm

Time will be served with child pornography conviction

ALBION – An Albion man was sentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison today, with the time to run concurrently with a federal child pornography conviction.

Andrew Campbell

Andrew Campbell, 33, on Jan. 29 was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison by a federal judge for possession of child pornography.

Campbell also faced charges in Orleans County Court for unlawful surveillance in the second degree. Campbell admitted in court on Oct. 31 to using an iPhone to record two girls without their consent.

Today he was sentenced on that charge. The mother of one of the girls who was recorded asked County Court Judge Sanford Church to not have Campbell serve this sentence as part of the federal charge. She wanted additional time for Campbell in prison.

District Attorney Joe Cardone said his office coordinated the local case with federal prosecutors. Campbell pleaded to the top federal count, and received the 6 ½ year sentence, with Cardone saying the surveillance charge was likely a factor in the length of that sentence.

Cardone said Campbell’s crime has many “ripple effects” for the victims, who feel violated.

“The defendant’s conduct has had a tremendous impact,” Cardone said. “They will be impacted the rest of their lives.”

Campbell apologized to the two girls in court today, and also to the mother of one of the victims.

“My client is remorseful and apologizes for that and wishes he could change things,” said his attorney, Michael O’Keefe.

Campbell was living in Albion and recently relocated to North Carolina and was to enroll in a sex offender program, O’Keefe said.

“He has admitted his guilt,” O’Keefe said. “He is willing to treat his problems. It won’t happen again. He is glad he got caught so he can treat his problem.”

One of the girls videotaped by Campbell spoke in court and gave a tearful response on the pain and betrayal she feels from the crime.

Her mother said the violation has damaged the family, including her daughter’s siblings.

The mother said not adding more time to the sentence felt like another victimization for the two girls.

“He is receiving no consequence for the crime against these girls,” she said.

The mother didn’t want a plea deal in the case and said her daughter was willing to testify at trial.

She blamed Campbell for being a predator.

“He is an arrogant, selfish and deceitful person,” the mother said.

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Albion man sentenced to state prison for making meth

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 January 2020 at 5:52 pm

ALBION – An Albion man was sentenced to 1 ½ years in state prison today by Orleans County Court Judge Sanford Church.

Richard Meise, 36, was arrested on June 20 along with his wife Linda for allegedly making and possessing methamphetamine at Beechwood Boulevard, Oak Orchard Estates.

Mrs. Meise, a first-time felony offender, was sentenced to 6 months in jail and 5 years of probation for having precursors for making methamphetamine.

Her husband is a second-felony offender. He pleaded guilty to attempted unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the third degree. His sentence also includes two years of post-release supervision.

Public Defender Joanne Best said Mr. Meise has been drug-free since his arrest.

Judge Church said Meise has an extensive criminal and substance abuse history. The judge urged Meise to take a new path in his life.

“I hope you get the help you need and it lasts,” he said.

In other cases in County Court today:

Nicholas Boryszewski, 37, of Medina pleaded guilty to attempted burglary in the second degree and could face 3 to 7 years in state prison when he is sentenced.

Boryszewski admitted to entered a residence without permission on Maple Ridge Road in Shelby on July 2 and taking cash and safe.

He could also receive five years of post-release supervision. He also needs to pay restitution, which could be up to $13,700.

• A Medina man was arraigned on seven counts of criminal possession of stolen property.

Anthony Allee, 28, of Ridge Road faces two counts in the third degree, and three counts each of criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth and fifth degrees.

He allegedly had a two stolen ATVs, a car trailer, utility trailer, golf cart, dirt bike and another trailer.

He is a codefendant in the case with his wife, Tashira Allee, 36.

The couple also is facing federal charges for allegedly maintaining a drug-involved premises, possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking, unlawful possession of a short-barreled shotgun, and unlawful possession of a short-barreled rifle.

Mr. Allee also faces federal charges with possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, marijuana, hydrocodone, and cocaine, unlawful possession of a machinegun, and unlawful possession of a stolen firearm, which carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 30 years in prison and a maximum of life.

Allee’s attorney, Christopher Privateer, asked Judge Church to authorize a psychiatric evaluation of Allee, which the judge approved today.

Privateer said he is concerned that Allee is not receiving any mental health treatment while being held at a facility in Ohio.

Ronald Riley, 40, of Applegate Drive in Medina was arraigned on multiple drug charges for allegedly having and selling cocaine in Medina.

Riley was arraigned on three counts each of criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. He also has been charged with criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree.

Riley is currently on parole with the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. His charges are no longer a “bailable offense” but his attorney requested some bail, even $1. That way the time he spends in the county jail can count towards his sentence. Judge Church agreed to set bail at $1.

Maurice Glasco, 41, of South Main Street in Medina was arraigned on driving while intoxicated and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree. He was charged on Nov. 18 on Route 31 in Ridgeway.

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