News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.


Police Charge Oneonta Man With Attempted Murder


Oneonta Man Arrested

For Attempted Murder

David Thomas

ONEONTA – An Oneonta man charged with attempted murder after he allegedly strangled a woman and twisted her neck, causing severe injury.

The victim also had bruises and bite marks, Police Chief Doug Brenner said.

David C. Thomas, 28, was arrested after Oneonta Police responded to a domestic dispute that allegedly turned physical.

Arrest Made in Pig Abuse Case

Arrest Made In

Pig-Neglect Case

With a container of dry corn, Alicia Neilsen seeks to lure one of the four rescued pigs into the Susquehanna Animal Shelter on Monday.  Neilsen, a volunteer at Leatherstocking Veterinary Services, New Berlin, is assisted by SAS volunteer Cat Chicorelli, left.. (Jim Kevlin/
Jared Talbot

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – An Oneonta man was arrested and charged with torturing animals after Otsego County sheriff’s deputies rescued his four emaciated pigs Monday from an un-insulated shed on Fisk Road in Laurens.

Jared J. Talbot, 21, was arrested today following a civilian complaint that led deputies to his property, where four pigs were found living without food or water and in an improper shelter.




OTSEGO – Joseph Zupnik and Daniel Herman, the former executives at Focus Otsego who were charged with multiple counts of Willful Violation of Health Laws and Endangering the Welfare of the residents, plead guilty to one count of the eight-count indictment, Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled person, in the Town of Otsego Court just moments ago.


Investigation Ongoing In Holding Cell Death

DA, OPD Investigate

Death In Holding Cell 

Suspect May Have Ingested Drugs,

Causing Heart Attack, Chief Says

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Kenneth Faulkner

ONEONTA – Oneonta Police and Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl are investigating a death in police custody last evening, after a man arrested on narcotics-trafficking charges swallowed what might have been cocaine, according to Police Chief Douglas Brenner.

To Brenner’s knowledge, this is the first time a suspect has died in OPD custody.

Kenneth J. Faulkner, 52, New Rochelle, was arrested on a warrant at about 5 p.m. at 85 Ford Ave., and taken to the city’s Public Safety Building, Brenner said.  About 5:35 p.m., a second warrant was served at the building, allowing “a body search. “

“He was on the threshold of the door of the holding cell, and in three seconds he had managed to close the door and get the drugs into his mouth,” Brenner said in a interview this afternoon. “The officer opened the door and tried to get him to spit out the drugs.”

Police: Man Pointed Loaded Shotgun At Girlfriend

Police: Man Pointed

Shotgun At Girlfriend

Steven Knauff

ONEONTA – Oneonta Police arrested a man following reports that he had pointed a loaded shotgun at his girlfriend during a dispute at their apartment on Main Street.

Steven J. Knauff, 35, was arrested Saturday evening after police responded to a call from 25 year old victim, who told them that earlier that evening, Knauff had allegedly pointed a loaded shotgun at her face. The victim was able to flee the apartment to a location on Chestnut Street, where she called police.

Police Identify Milford Fire Suspect

Springfield Man, 20,

Milford Fire Suspect

Gerald Althiser Jr.

SPRINGFIELD CENTER – State Police have arrested Gerald E. Althiser Jr., 20, of Springfield Center, under suspicion of starting the fire that destroyed the Milford United Methodist Church in March.

On Saturday, July 08,  State Police arrested Althiser for allegedly starting fires in two campers.  During the investigation, police allege that Althiser admitted to setting numerous fires, including the March 12 fire that destroyed the Milford United Methodist Church on State Route 28 in the Town of Milford.

Arrest Made In Milford Church Fire

Teen Arrested In

Milford Church Fire

The inside of the Milford United Methodist Church following the fire. (Ian Austin/

MILFORD – A Middlefield teen was arrested and charged with setting the fire that destroyed the Milford United Methodist Church in March.

According to District Attorney John Muehl, state police arrested a young man on Saturday, July 8, for allegedly setting fires to several storage units in that town. During the investigation, police allegedly discovered evidence linking him to the church fire, and he was arrested.

Muehl said the suspect’s name and charges would be forthcoming from state police.

The fire was originally believed to have been an accident due to faulty electrical wiring.

Breed Fitness Owner Charged With Reckless Endangerment

Breed Fitness Owner Charged

With Reckless Endangerment

Kurtis Breed
Kurtis Breed

ONEONTA – Kurtis Breed, 30, owner of Breed Fitness, was arrested after allegedly driving recklessly towards another motorist in the Price Chopper parking lot.

He was arrested after State Troopers were advised of an incident in the Price Chopper parking lot on June 5.  Their investigation determined that Breed was driving a black Audi S4 sedan when he purposely drove recklessly towards another motorist and veered at the last second and then drove away.

Otego Woman Found With Heroin, Runs From Cops

Otego Woman Found With

Heroin, Runs From Cops

Jacqueline Graves
Jacqueline Graves

OTEGO – A woman charged with DUI and possessing heroin tried running from State Troopers before she was arrested in Otego.

Yesterday afternoon, troopers allegedly observed Jacqueline Graves, 30, Otego crossing a road hazard as she was driving on State Route 7 in the Town of Otego.  An investigation determined that she was driving while impaired by drugs, but when troopers told her she was under arrest, Graves pulled away and ran a short distance before being grabbed by the trooper again.

Rome Man Arrested For Threat, Menacing

Man Charged In Threat,

Menacing In Plainfield

Jason Tuttle
Jason Tuttle

PLAINFIELD – A Rome man was arrested in the early morning hours after threatening to kill a Plainfield resident and breaking into her home in Otsego County’s Northwest Corner while her children were present.

Jason S. Tuttle, 31, was arrested after a call came into the Otsego County 911 reporting that Tuttle had allegedly broken a bedroom window and attempted to enter the home while the victim was inside with her three children.  An investigation by the state troopers determined that earlier in the day, he had called and threatened to kill her.

Oneonta Police Bust Three At Walmart In Undercover Morphine Buy

3 Busted For Morphine

In WalMart Parking Lot

Eric Wade Ferguson, Sr
Eric Wade Ferguson, Sr
Eric Wade Ferguson, Jr.
Eric Wade Ferguson, Jr.
Linda Lee Clow
Linda Lee Clow

ONEONTA – An Oneonta father and son, as well as the father’s fiancee, were arrested yesterday after they allegedly sold morphine tablets to an undercover cop in the WalMart parking lot.

On Monday morning, an undercover Sheriff’s Office investigator allegedly paid Eric Wade Ferguson Jr. 20, of Oneonta, $540 for 15 100 mg morphine sulfate tablets during a drug buy in the Oneonta WalMart parking lot.  Ferguson Jr. was immediately arrested for criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, a class B felony.

Springfield Store Clerk Charged with Stealing $2,000

Springfield Store Clerk

Charged With Stealing $2,000

Brandon Demorest
Brandon Demorest

COOPERSTOWN – A former employee of a Springfield convenience store was arrested and charged with stealing over $2,000 from the register, according to the Village Police.

Brandon Charles Demorest, 26, of Springfield Center was arrested Jan. 11 on charges that he had used the error/correct key to void out sales and keep the money customers paid for their purchases while employed at the store in summer 2015, said village police in a press release.

Second Man Arrested For Oneonta Robbery

Second Man Arrested 

For Oneonta Robbery

Ernesto Santiago
Ernesto Santiago

ONEONTA – A second arrest has been made in the case of a home invasion, burglary and assault that allegedly took place in early January.

Ernesto D. Santiago, 39, was arrested yesterday for the felonies of robbery in the first degree, burglary in the first degree, criminal use of a firearm in the first degree and menacing in the second degree.

He is accused of breaking into a city of Oneonta house and injuring the occupant during the course of the robbery.  He faces up to 82 years incarceration.

Yesterday, Daquan Davis, 18, was arrested and charged for the same case.  The relationship between the two is still being explored, according to Oneonta Police Lt. Douglas Brenner 

The investigation is still ongoing.


Walton Man Charged With Stealing From Abandoned House

Walton Man Charged With

Burglary At Vacant House

Lawrence Kern
Lawrence Kern

ONEONTA – Oneonta Police arrested a Walton man for allegedly removing items from an abandoned and condemned house.

Lawrence E. Kern, 28, was arrested and charged with burglary in the third degree, class D felony, and petit larceny, a class A misdemeanor, after a call came in on Sunday, Jan. 10, that a person was loading a washer and dryer that had been removed from the inside of an abandoned house.   Police said the subsequent investigation revealed that Mr. Kern did not have permission to remove the items.

The maximum punishment for a class D felony is a term of incarceration not to exceed seven years.  The maximum punishment for a class A misdemeanor is a term of incarceration not to exceed one year.

Three Arrested in Police Raid, $25,000 in Crack Cocaine Seized

3 Arrested In Police Raid;

$25,000 In Crack Seized

Over $25,000 worth of drugs were seized in an early morning raid on Meckley Avenue in Oneonta.
Over $25,000 worth of drugs were seized in an early morning raid on Meckley Avenue in Oneonta.

ONEONTA – Nearly $25,000 worth of crack cocaine was seized from a home on Meckley Avenue during an early-morning raid that resulted in the arrests of Sophie S. Szczepanski, 30, Charles W. Haynes Jr, 43 and Orane Crawford, 23.

At 8:30 a.m. today, the Oneonta Police Department patrol division, detective division and the Special Response Team, with assistance from the Delaware County Sheriff’s investigators and K-9 Ozzie, served a search warrant at 10 Meckley Ave.  The basis of the search warrant was from an investigation into illegal narcotic trafficking.  

Police discovered approximately 7.2 ounces of crack cocaine with a street value in the area of $25,000.  In addition, eight prescription hydrocodone pills, two grams of marijuana, and $700 cash were discovered.

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