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News of Otsego County

Police & Fire

Gas station robbers sentenced to jail

Gas station robbers sentenced to jail

By Greg Klein • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Bryan Ruple, right, is sentenced Monday, May 10, in Otsego County Court, for assault and robbery in connection with a series of stick ups in and around Oneonta on April 24, 2020. (Greg Klein/AllOtsego.com).

COOPERSTOWN – A pair of Otsego County men were sentenced Monday, May 10, for their roles in a series of robberies, attempted robberies and an assault that took place during a one-day crime spree April 24, 2020, in and around the city and town of Oneonta.

Brian Ruple, 42, of Otego, received a sentence of seven years in state prison for a second degree assault with a knife that he committed during one of the robberies, at the Kwik-Fill Convenience Store at 65 Chestnut St. in Oneonta, where he stabbed a clerk in the hand. Ruple will serve between two and a half to five years for robbery in the third degree. The assault is a class B felony and the robbery is a class D felony. Ruple will also be subject to five years of post-release supervision.

Callahan admits to killing wife

Callahan admits to killing wife
as part of plea to forgo new trial

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Casey Callahan stands to await resentencing Monday, May 3, in Otsego County Court in Cooperstown. Callahan pleaded guilty to manslaugher in the 2000 death of his wife, Elizabeth Welsh. His 2017 conviction in the case was overturned last year. (Greg Klein/AllOTSEGO.com)

Casey Callahan pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the second degree Monday, May 3, in Otsego County Court, ending, for the second time, the criminal proceeding concerning the 2000 death of Callahan’s wife Elizabeth Welsh Callahan.

Callahan, 54, admitted Monday that he backed over his wife with his truck in Sayre, Pennsylvania in 2000, killing her. He told Judge John Lambert, “I intended to cause the death of Elizabeth Callahan and I did so with my actions. I am sorry that it happened. I apologize to her and her family.”

Callahan will serve four to 12 years in state prison, but the term is consecutive, or in addition, to 12.5 year sentence he is currently serving in a state facility for a 2013 sexual assault of a minor.

Sherburne man gets three years for sexual assault of minor

Sherburne man gets
three years for
sexual assault of minor

Thomas Figger, right, stands for sentencing Monday, 3, in Otsego County Court in Cooperstown. He received a sentence of three years in state prison for a charge of a third degree sexual act with a minor.

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN — A Sherburne man, Thomas Figger, was sentenced to three years in state prison Monday, May 3, on a charge of third degree sexual act with a minor under the age of 15, a class E felony.

Figger appeared in Judge John Lambert’s court Monday to receive his sentence and report to prison.

Figger pleaded guilty March 22, for an incident that occurred Nov. 13, 2019, in the town of Pittsfield. As part of his plea, similar charges in Madison County were dropped.

Figger was 29 and the victim was 14 when the incident occurred; he had previously testified that he did not know the age of the girl, who he admitted performed oral sex on him.

Figger waived his right to appeal most aspects of the case as part of his plea. He will have to pay fees and fines, register as a sex offender and for the DNA databank and be supervised for 10 years following his release from prison.

Figger previously testified that his relationship with the minor girl was consensual. However, Lambert told him it was his obligation to know the age of his sexual partners and to make sure he was not with an underage partner.

Lambert ruled that an order of protection for the victim be in effect for eight years upon Figger’s release from jail and ordered Figger to continue to have no contract with her.

Callahan pleads guilty to lesser charge in 2000 death of wife

 

Casey Callahan was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison Monday, May 3, in Otsego County Court in Cooperstown. Callahan pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his wife, Elizabeth. His previously conviction for second degree murder was overturned by the Appellate court.

Callahan pleads guilty
to lesser charge
in 2000 death of wife

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – Casey Callahan pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the second degree Monday, May 3, in Otsego County Court, ending, for the second time, the criminal proceeding concerning the 2000 death of Callahan’s wife Elizabeth Welsh Callahan.

Callahan, 54, admitted Monday that he backed over his wife with his truck in Sayre, Pennsylvania in 2000, killing her. He told Judge John Lambert, “I intended to cause the death of Elizabeth Callahan and I did so with my actions. I am sorry that it happened. I apologize to her and her family.”

Callahan will serve four to 12 years in state prison, but the term is consecutive, or in addition, to 12.5 year sentence he is currently serving in a state facility for a 2013 sexual assault of a minor.

Callahan had previously been convicted of second degree murder in his wife’s death.

However, in August, the third division of the Appellate Court overruled the decision, saying a piece of testimony against Callahan was inadmissible. District Attorney John Muehl said Monday that the piece of evidence was not objected to by Callahan’s two attorneys at the time, both of whom were experienced, qualified defense attorneys.

Muehl said he thought he could retry Callahan on the second degree murder charge and get another conviction, but the Welsh family does not want to go through another trial.

“It is a sad day, I believe, for the criminal justice division in the state of New York,” Muehl said. “It is a sad day for Elizabeth Callahan’s family. Maybe I will send this allocution to the Appellate Division.”

As part of the plea, Callahan waived his right to appeal the sentence and most aspects of Monday’s hearing, except when allowed by state law. Lambert said his next felony conviction will qualify him as a repeat offender.

Views Around New York: April 29, 2021

Views Around New York

COVID Impatience Can Be Dangerous

From: The Daily Gazette Editorial Board, Saratoga

The return to normalcy has started. But we’re not there yet.

And if you think we’re beyond the bad old days of seeing big spikes in cases, look no further than Saratoga Springs High School, where about two dozen students contracted the virus recently.

Officials believe the outbreak was largely the result of a teen party in Lake George the weekend of April 10.

… We’re almost there! Now is not the time to get complacent and let down our guard.

Otsego County Seeks To Supplement Struggling Local Emergency Services

Otsego County Seeks To Supplement
Struggling Local Emergency Services

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Emergency medical services are struggling to respond to calls county-wide, leading Otsego County officials to consider stepping in with supplemental services.

“I’ve been in the service for 47 years. I have never seen it this bad,” said Rep. Dan Wilber, R-Burlington, Edmeston, Exeter, Plainfield, who is a member of the Edmeston Fire Department and Rescue Squad and the chair of the county’s Public Safety and Legal Affairs Committee.

Wilber said he and his fellow PSLA members have been listening to Otsego County Emergency Services Coordinator Art Klingler Jr. and Otsego County E-911 Director Bob O’Brien. Both men have been warning them that a generation of EMS workers are aging out of service or have been discouraged by the lengthy coronavirus pandemic.

“Now it has become very evident that we need to come up with something to assist the locals in the process,” Klinger told the county’s Board of Representative during a special presentation Wednesday, April 7.

The duo made a presentation asking the board to develop a plan for supplemental EMS help, with a county ambulance and/or an advanced life support fly car to assist with response and transportation to people in need of emergency health help.

BERKSON: Otsego Lawman, Cunningham, Served Otsego County With ‘Sleuth-Like’ Attention
LETTER from TERRY BERKSON

Otsego Lawman, Cunningham, Served

Otsego County With ‘Sleuth-Like’ Attention

Terry Berkson, who has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, lives on a farm outside Richfield Springs. His articles have appeared in New York magazine, the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine, Automobile and other publications.

John L. Cunningham became a New York State Trooper in 1917. He was among the 232 selected men who made up the first wave of the newly formed organization that would serve to uphold the law in rural areas under the leadership of Major George Fletcher Chandler.

Up until that time Cunningham, who was originally from Glens Falls, worked as a shirt cutter for 18 years. No doubt the newly formed force appealed to a now stationary 35 year old “man-with-scissors” who still loved to swim and had once been a high school basketball and track star.

He was a natural for equestrian and law enforcement training and excelled as a State Trooper. Within four years he was promoted to sergeant and transferred to an outpost in Cooperstown which was a substation of Troop C that was located in Sidney.

In Leatherstocking country he was provided a place in the village to live, conduct his police activities and board a horse upon which he patrolled Cooperstown and other environs in and out of Otsego and neighboring Counties. Because of his style and strict but fair enforcement of the law, he was already a local celebrity, by the time he married Elizabeth Lukas in 1931. They continued to live in various outposts in the village that were provided by The State Police.

Raging Fire Has Oneonta Lanes’ Future In Doubt

Raging Fire Has Oneonta

Lanes’ Future In Doubt

Inside Oneonta’s Holiday Lanes, the beams survived, but not the alleys.

Avid bowlers may be pursuing their sports in Sidney, Norwich or even Van Hornesville after a raging fire gutted the Holiday Lanes on Oneonta’s Southside in the early morning hours of Friday, April 9.

The Oneonta Fire Department received the call at 1:30 a.m., and fought the blaze with the help of multiple fire departments until 5 a.m., Fire Chief Mike Mancini reported.

With the Town of Oneonta’s water system not expected to be completed until later this year, the big challenge was feeding water to aerial trucks from Stamford, Sidney and the OFDs, Mancini said.

One station was set up near the Susquehanna River’s Southside dam, and another at a pond on Henderson’s Farm, across from Lowe’s.

WEBB: Contribution, Not Good Governance, Resulted in Blinking-Sign Placement
LETTER from JOHN B. WEBB

Contribution, Not Good Governance,

Resulted in Blinking-Sign Placement

New on Pioneer St. Where next?

To the Editor,

Upper Pioneer Street has been defaced by the installation of a large solar-powered speed sign, the kind usually found in commercial districts or at the entrance to municipalities. Around the clock, it flashes the speed of all approaching cars along with a digital display of praise or warning, depending on the car’s speed.

It was placed there, NOT at the request of the police chief who claims to have known absolutely nothing about its installation, but at the request of a Pioneer Street resident who gave the village the money to pay for it. It suddenly appeared without any public vetting of the project whatsoever, and without regard for the residents of Pioneer Street who have to endure its unsightliness and its incessant flashing.

Residents of the village and pedestrians, particularly along Main, Chestnut and Susquehanna streets, main arteries in the village, have all observed countless motorists ignoring the very speed limit posted on the many signs they pass as they speed by. The same is true on residential side streets, such as Pioneer.

As Oneonta Waits, AG To Investigate

Public Weighs Meaning Of Killing, Mayor Says

As Oneonta Waits, AG To Investigate

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

In addition to Sergeant Pajerski’s body cam, at least two videos of the scene are circulating on the Internet.

Not only has a police shooting made history in Oneonta, it’s making statewide history, too.

A new department in the state Attorney General’s Office, the Office of Special Investigations, created by Executive Order 147 after George Floyd’s death last May 25, opened its door on April 1, according to Sofia Quintanar, the AG’s deputy press secretary.

The office is empowered to “investigate and, if warranted, prosecute … a police officer … concerning any incident in which the death of a person, whether in custody or not, is caused by an act or omission.”

Five days later, on Tuesday, April 6, Tyler Green, 23, (also identified as Tyler Johnson in early reports), was shot twice after pulling a knife in a domestic dispute at 48 River St., by Sgt. Ralph Pajerski, an 18-year veteran of the Oneonta Police Department.

“This is the first in the state for our new department,” said Quintanar.

Both officers remain on the job, with Sergeant Pajerski on desk duty while the investigation is in progress, and his partner in responding to the 48 River situation, Officer Kristen Lapointe, resuming her regular duties, said OPD Chief Chris Witzenburg.

Pajerski

With officials and officers who have viewed Pajerski’s body cam saying it shows he acted as he had to, Witzenburg said, “The frustration for me is that it’s taking as long as it’s going to take – 6-8 weeks. But I understand they have an investigative procedure they’ve adopted, and I’m just going to have to trust it.”

After Police Shooting, Public Shows Sensible Restraint
EDITORIAL

After Police Shooting, Public

Shows Sensible Restraint

A number of videos recorded the April 6 shooting.

In an era when everyone rushes to judgment about everything, it’s reassuring to see the sensible, restrained comments on www.AllOTSEGO.com to last week’s police shooting of Tyler Johnson, 23, of 48 River St., during a domestic dispute.

“I’m not saying the cop was wrong,” said one commentator. “The guy had a knife and was grabbing for the woman, then the kid. He even stabbed her in the leg. It’s a sad situation, but I believe the officer did his job.”

“After the guy slashed the woman’s leg, he turned to the male cop and tried to stab him in the leg, too,” wrote another.

“Cop danced back and avoided it. Happened fast.”

“Officer was absolutely correct to do what he did,” said another.

Let’s Not Jump To Conclusions D.A. Muehl Says

Let’s Not Jump

To Conclusions

D.A. Muehl Says

Be Cautious, Prosecutor Cautions:

Eyewitness Accounts ‘Inaccurate’

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

D.A. Muehl

COOPERSTOWN – Eyewitness accounts of last Tuesday’s fatal shooting by a police officer on River Street “have not been accurate,” District Attorney John Muehl said this morning.

“I’ve seen the video,” said Muehl, referring to the body cam worn by Sgt. Ralph Pajerski, who twice shot Tyler Green, 23, of 48 River St., on responding to a domestic disturbance.  Green, also known as Tyler Johnson, later died.

‘Officer Acted To Save Life Of Child By Firing 2 Shots’
ONEONTA MAYOR REPORTS TO PUBLIC:

‘Officer Acted To Save Life
Of Child By Firing 2 Shots’

Tyler Johnson, 23, Takes 2 Bullets In Chest

By MIKE FORSTER ROTHBART & JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

This is a frame from a video taken by Kevin Marcewicz after Tyler Johnson, 23, was shot twice in the chest. Police said he pulled a knife during a domestic dispute at 48 River St., Oneonta, and later died of his wounds.
Tyler Johnson, 23, died from two gunshots to the chest.

A 23-year-old man, Tyler Johnson, was shot twice in the chest after he allegedly pulled a knife at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, during a domestic dispute in a duplex at 48 River St., next to the former Foti’s Bakery.

According to Mayor Gary Herzig, who provided a report to the public via YouTube at the beginning of that evening’s Common Council meeting, two officers responded to “a domestic matter” and found a mother, a 2-year-old child and Johnson at the scene.

A neighbor said the child was Johnson’s; he identified the mother as Caitlyn Marie Calvey, and said she was Johnson’s fiancée.

“While officers were there,” said Herzig, “the third-party male did attack the mother with a knife. She sustained some wounds, but was treated and is OK. One officer acted to save the life of the child by firing two shots. The individual with the knife was injured as a result.”

Officer In Shooting 18-Year OPD Veteran

Officer In Shooting

18-Year OPD Veteran

Troopers Release Sgt. Pajerski’s Name

ONEONTA – A few minutes ago, state police at Sidney identified the Oneonta police office the officer who “fired his duty weapon, striking the subject” as Sgt. Ralph Pajerski, an 18-year veteran of the department.

The state police press release also said the man who was shot twice in the chest was Tyler R. Green, 23; he has been identified in press reports as Tyler Johnson.  He later died en route to Albany Medical Center by Medevac.

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