News of Otsego County

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

District Attorney John Muehl

Three Indicted For Kidnapping, Robbery

Three Indicted For

Kidnapping, Robbery

ONEONTA – Three men who allegedly grabbed an Oneonta woman off the street and threw her into a van before demanding money were indicted on felony charges of kidnapping and robbery in Otsego County court yesterday, according to District Attorney John Muehl.

Erankie Liberata-Garcie, 24, Erick Tavares, 33 and James Semidey, 26, all of the Bronx, were arrested in May after Oneonta Police received a report from neighbors on Watkins Avenue that claim they saw two men grab a woman off the street and thrown into a white cargo van.

Inventive Scams Entrap Otsego County Elderly

Inventive Scams Entrap

Otsego County Elderly

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – An 88-year-old Laurens woman got a call, purportedly from Cooperstown Police: Her granddaughter had been in an accident, she was fine, but her car had been impounded and she needed $4,000 in cash to get it out.

The woman was instructed to wrap the money in a sweater and mail it to Staten Island. She did so, shipping the package overnight from The Shipping Room in Oneonta. But when the same person called back and asked for four Home Depot cards, she asked, “Is this a scam?”

“The person on the other end of the line said ‘Thanks for playing’ and hung up,” said Trooper Aga Dembinska, Troop C public information officer.

Home Health Aide Indicted On Grand Larceny Charges

Home-Health Aide Charged 

With Theft From Elderly Pair

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Stephanie Shulgay leaves a county courtroom today after pleading not guilty to theft charges. (Libby Cudmore/

COOPERSTOWN – A former home health aide was arraigned in Otsego County Court today on charges that she stole more than $33,000 from an elderly couple over 15 months when they were in her care.

Stephanie Shulgay, 32, plead “Not guilty” to the third-degree grand larceny charges, filed by a grand jury. It is alleged that she stole the money from the couple by using their credit and debit cards between July 2017 and October 2018, while working as a home health aide.

“You can’t just breach someone’s trust like that,” said District Attorney John Muehl.

According to the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department, Shulgay allegedly used the money to pay bills for herself and an elderly uncle.

Animal Cruelty Task Force Meets, Renames Self PETS

Animal Cruelty Task Force

Meets, Renames Self PETS

The county’s new Animal Cruelty Task Force, renamed PETS, met today, comprising, from left, District Attorney John Muehl, county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr., Susquehanna SPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes Christine Schneider of Leatherstocking Veterinary Group, SSPCA Vet Tech Sara Haddad,  and Joan Puritz of Oneonta Veterinary Clinic. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

SSPCA’s Haynes believes that education is the key to preventing animal cruelty.

COOPERSTOWN – PETS, Stacie Haynes said, are the county’s tools for combating animal cruelty.

“PETS stands for Prevention, Education, Training and Systems,” said Haynes, Susquehanna SPCA executive director. “That is the new name we have given the Animal Cruelty Task Force.”

The group, which formed in February, met this morning at the county Sheriff’s Department offices to agree on goals.

Most cases of animal cruelty, said Haynes, are people who find themselves overwhelmed. “They’re not intentionally torturing an animal, they just end up in unfortunate circumstances.”





Unnamed New Suspect Is Sought

In Hero’s Death In Oneonta Fire

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

District Attorney John Muehl said that new evidence suggests that Terrence Truitt did not set the fire that killed firefighter John Heller, (Ian Austin/

ONEONTA – New evidence obtained by Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl has suggested that Terrence Truitt did not set the fatal fire that killed former Oneonta firefighter John D. Heller.

Muehl said that he plans to ask the courts to release Truitt from the Otsego County Jail this afternoon.

“Our investigation has revealed additional evidence that ethically requires him to be released,” said Muehl.

The arson charges, however, will not be dropped, according to Muehl.

Cameras Set Stage, Helped Solve Killing

Cameras Set Stage,

Helped Solve Killing

Joshua Underwood is led into Otsego County Court by Deputy Leigh Prostak ahead of a hearing last December. (Parker Fish/

By LIBBY CUDMORE  • Special to

ONEONTA – Otsego County’s first slaying of 2017 – on New Year’s morning – happened in an Oneonta apartment with a surveillance camera in every room.

The cameras helped put suspect Joshua Underwood, 25, in the victim’s room, and help convict the man, said District Attorney John Muehl.

Underwood was convicted Friday, March 30, to 20 years in jail.

“Witnesses said they got into a fight about Joshua Underwood having a girlfriend,” said Muehl. “Morrison went to bed, and on video, we have Underwood checking on Morrison. Shortly after that, the video went out, and that’s about the approximate time Morrison was killed.”






County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. listens to a reporter’s question this afternoon at a press conference on the shooting death of a Laurens couple last evening. With him are District Attorney John Muehl, and Capt. Christina Sisbower and Lt. Rodney Westbrook, both with the state polilce. (Parker Fish/

By PARKER FISH • Special to

Kevin Perry, accused in his parents’ death.

TOWN OF MIDDLEFIELD – The sister of Kevin A. Perry came home on the evening of Tuesday Dec. 12 to find both of her parents dead on the floor of their Laurens trailer home, county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. reported at a press conference this afternoon at the county jail.

Both were killed by gunshots, and Kevin Perry, 23, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his parents, Timothy A. Perry, 59, and Solveige E. Perry, 52.

Casey Callahan Gets 25-To-Life For Wife’s Murder



Man Found Guilty Of Killing Wife

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Casey Callahan on the first day of his trial. (Parker Fish/

COOPERSTOWN – Casey Callahan, 52, who was found guilty of the January 2000 murder of his wife Elizabeth Welsh in the county’s first murder trial in decades, was sentenced to 25-to-life by Judge John F. Lambert during his hearing yesterday on Otsego County Court.

“It’s the maximum sentence, and I’m satisfied,” said District Attorney John Muehl. “This was a cold, calculated, pre-meditated murder.”

“I ask the court to consider the magnitude and impact of this crime that took Elizabeth’s life and what it has done to her son and family,” said her sister, Marie Valentine, in a statement to the judge.  “I would ask your honor to consider sentencing Casey Callahan to the maximum sentence under the law, as any time he spends incarcerated is nothing compared to what he did to Elizabeth and what her family has and will experience in our lifetime.”





Casey Callahan

COOPERSTOWN – A jury this morning found Casey Callahan guilty of murder in the second degree for the Jan.19, 2000 death of his wife, Elizabeth Welsh Callahan.

The verdict came in around 11:30 a.m. District Attorney John Muehl prosecuted the case throughout the week, calling 21 witnesses. In the final hours of the trial yesterday morning, Callahan himself was called to the stand by his attorney, William Schebaum.


DAY ONE: Monday, Sept. 11

• IN OPENING REMARKS, District Attorney Muehl paraphrases suspect Callahan: “I can kill someone and get away with it.”

• TRUCK DRIVER George Borrowdale describes witnessing Callahan’s rig running over wife Elizabeth

Jury Deliberations Begin in Murder Trial

Jury Deliberations

Begin in Murder Trial

District Attorney John Muehl gives his closing statement in the trial against Casey Callahan, accused of killing his wife Elizabeth in January 2000. (Parker Fish/

By PARKER FISH • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – With a total 22 witnesses called, including suspect Casey Callahan, the prosecution and defense gave their closing arguments in the murder trial against Callahan, who was charged with killing his wife, Elizabeth Welsh Callahan, at a truck stop on January 19, 2000.

“Four tires ran directly down the center of her body,” said District Attorney John Muehl in his closing statement. “I submit you can’t do that by accident. This plan was tailor-made for Elizabeth.”

But Callahan’s defense argued that the jury is tasked with deciding if jurisdiction allowed Elizabeth’s death in Pennsylvania, which Callahan maintained was an accident, could be prosecuted in New York. “There is no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that this case belongs in New York State,” said William Schebaum, Callahan’s attorney. “I urge you not to allow speculation, emotion, or even a dislike of the defendant to be a substitute to fact.”

Callahan: ‘I Wasn’t The Best Husband’

Callahan: ‘I Wasn’t

The Best Husband’

With Suspect Taking Stand In

Own Defense, Testimony At End

Murder defendant Casey Callahan of Goodyear Lake took the stand in his own defense this afternoon; (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.,com)

By PARKER FISH • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – Accused of running over his wife with his rig 17 years ago, Casey Callahan took the stand in his own defense as three days of testimony came to an end.

“I wasn’t the best husband,” Callahan told his lawyer, Public Defender Bruce Maxson. “I could say mean things at times, but I loved her.” When Maxson questioned him about earlier testimony that alleged domestic abuse, Callahan responded, “I’ve never hit her. I’ve never kicked her.”

Ex-Wife, Her Boyfriend, Suspect’s Target, DA Says

Ex-Wife, Her Boyfriend,

Suspect’s Target, DA Says


ONEONTA – The Cherry Valley man charged with hiring a hitman was looking to kill his estranged wife and her boyfriend, according to Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl.

Danny Baldwin, 56, was arrested Tuesday, March 21, on charges that he had allegedly paid a man $20,000 to murder his estranged wife, as well as her boyfriend. The man went to the State Police at Richfield Springs, and Baldwin was charged with Conspiracy in the second degree, a class B felony in the Town of Richfield court.

This afternoon, Baldwin’s case was transferred to Otsego County Court. No grand jury trial date has been set.

Callahan Trial Date Set For March

Callahan Trial Date

Set For March 27

Casey Callahan

COOPERSTOWN – Casey Callahan is scheduled to go to trial on March 27 in the alleged murder of his wife, Elizabeth, according to District Attorney John Muehl.

He was charged last June with her murder, which Muehl believes was planned in Otsego County. Callahan is currently serving 12 1/2 years at the Attica Correctional Facility for a conviction on criminal sexual act in the first degree.

Cooperstown Man Accused Of Stealing $25,000 From County

 Treasurer Employee, Other

Charged With $25,000 Theft

treasurer-logoCOOPERSTOWN – A former county employee and his accomplice have been arrested and charged with stealing $25,000 in tax proceeds from the Otsego County Treasurer’s Office.

Lawrence Woodards, 34, Cooperstown, and Kevin Williamson, 34, New York City, are accused of working together to steal from taxpayers and the office.

DA’s Office: Callahan Trial Likely In 2017

DA’s Office: No Trial

For Callahan ’til 2017

COOPERSTOWN – Casey Callahan, 50, will likely go to trial in 2017 after being arrested in June for the alleged killing of his wife Elizabeth 16 years before in Pennsylvania,  according to Investigator Mike Ten Eyck at the county District Attorney’s Office.

“There’s not as much of a rush; he’s not sitting in the county jail, he’s already serving a sentence in Attica,” said Ten Eyck, after Callahan was back at the county courthouse today to for “a monthly return date.”  His next visit here will be Oct. 3.

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