News of Otsego County

John Lambert

Dylan Robinson sentenced to 20 years to life for murder in botched robbery
Dylan Robinson is led into the Otsego County Courthouse prior to his sentencing Monday, Oct. 4, in Cooperstown. (Kevin Limiti/

Dylan Robinson sentenced
to 20 years to life
for murder in botched robbery

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

COOPERSTOWN Dylan Robinson was sentenced to 20 years to life at the Otsego County Courthouse on Monday, Oct. 4, for the murder of his father, Kenneth Robinson, during a botched 2019 robbery attempt for marijuana and money.

Dylan was 15 when the crime was committed Oct. 10, 2019, in Worcester.

During sentencing, Otsego County Judge John Lambert said Robinson made “poor decisions in your young life” and noted Dylan smoked marijuana and alcohol daily and hung out with the wrong crowd.

Alleged Halloween party stabber appears in court

Alleged Halloween party stabber appears in court

By KEVIN LIMITI• Special to

Public defender Brett Cowen, left, defends Richard Gantt on Monday, May 24, in Otsego County Court in Cooperstown. (Kevin Limiti/AllOtsego).

COOPERSTOWN  – An Oneonta man, whose violent altercation in Unadilla ended in a stabbing and the victim having to be taken by helicopter to a medical facility, appeared in Otsego County court Monday, May 24, to face charges of assault in the first and second degree.

Richard Gantt voluntarily agreed to be interviewed by state police, according to testimony.

“I was called because it was a serious case,” Jeremy Hicks, investigator for the New York State Police, said via video in the courtroom.

The confrontation which led to the stabbing occurred on Sunday, Oct, 18, 2020, at a Halloween party, with Logan Kabana of Oneonta.

Gantt, who is Black, claimed during the police interview that Kabana had made racial remarks, leading to the fight.

However, Kabana said during the proceedings, that he had been hanging out with Gantt and did a shot with him when he made a remark that somebody who was hanging out near the fire pit was a serial killer and was going to get Gantt. This allegedly caused Gantt to fly into a rage and resulted in Kabana being assaulted and stabbed.

The next day, Kabana picked out Gantt from a photo array and police sought out Gantt’s girlfriend, who works at Springbrook, and eventually got him to come down to the state police barracks in Oneonta, where he was read his Miranda rights.

Lambert at one point warned an observer in the courtroom, who was shaking their head demonstrably in reaction to an overruled objection, to no longer do that or they would be removed from the courtroom.

There was no return court appearance set, but Lambert predicted they would convene again in about a month.

Duo sentenced for series of gas station robberies

Duo sentenced for series
of gas station robberies

By GREG KLEIN • Special to

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 then serve between two-and-a-half to five years for robbery in the third degree.

Otsego County Judge John Lambert said he was sentencing Ruple as a second-time felony offender because Ruple was convicted in Oneida County in 2013 of a class D felony of possession of a dangerous controlled substance.

Ruple’s accomplice, driver Derrick Gray, 42, of Laurens, received a sentence of between two-and-a-half to five years for robbery in the third degree.

Callahan admits to killing wife

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

By GREG KLEIN • Special to

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/

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.

Scrappy, Innovative GOP Chair Resigns, Focuses on Consulting

Scrappy, Innovative GOP Chair

Resigns, Focuses on Consulting

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Vince Casale and wife (and fellow consultant) Lynn Krogh with a wall of memorabilia. (Jim Kevline/

It was 2013. The issue was fracking. And four prominent local Republicans knocked on Vince Casale’s door.

“It was conveyed to me that the party was in some trouble,” said Casale, who last week advised the Republican County Committee he is resigning as chairman.

“My work is done,” he said. “It’s time for a change.”

He recommended Lori Lehenbauer of Worcester, Republican county elections commissioner, as his successor.

His seven years spanned the tenures of four of his Democratic counterparts.

In 2013, the first Democrat elected to countywide office in memory, Dan Crowell, was running for reelection unopposed, Casale recalled.

There was a shortage of candidates and, “when people were asked to run, they were just left to themselves.”

The committee had been using raffles to raise money – that was illegal, it turned out, leading to a sizable fine.

“At the time, I was consulting,” Vince recounted the other day – he still operates the Cooperstown-based Casale Group with his wife, Lynn Krogh, most recently helping guide state Sen.-elect Peter Oberacker’s campaign. “I was very happy.”

But the GOP contingent told him, “We need to win races. You know how to win races.”

Remembers Casale, “With the blessing of Senator Seward, I was good to go. I took over in September,” two months before the fall elections.

“The first thing we do is run polling,” a first in local races. It discovered not only newcomers, but longtime incumbents were in tight races, he said. “It’s going to be a drubbing like we’d never seen.”

Fracking had damaged the Republicans, but by then it had been discovered there was too little natural gas here to frack. The issue “was just at or past the peak,” Casale said.

“I told the candidates: Don’t mention it. It wasn’t that we wanted it or didn’t want it. It was political survival,”

The new message: Republicans will protect your tax dollars.

“Rick Hulse was down by over 20 points when we first did that poll,” said Casale. “I remember him cutting it to 14 points. I had him down to 7 points. ‘If we only had one more week,’ I told myself.

“I went into Election Day thinking we would lose the Town of Otsego,” including most of Cooperstown, he said. “We ended up winning by 10 points.”

Republicans Janet Quackenbush and Craig Gelbsman also won in Democratic Oneonta, and Len Carson, the retired fire captain.

Casale, then 40, was no stranger to politics. At age 5, he was handing out pencils at county fairs on behalf of his father, Assemblyman Tony Casale of Herkimer.

During school breaks, young Vince would ask to accompany his dad to Albany.

A music major, he taught for a few years before joining Herkimer Arc, then the community college, as development director.

He started the Casale Group in 2007. His first campaign: Cooperstown’s Mike Coccoma, for state Supreme Court. The next year, John Lambert for county judge. “The company just kind of grew,” he said. “I had a decision to make: Continue as is, or make the jump.” And jump he did.

This year, he managed the elevation of county Judge Brian Burns of Oneonta to replace the retiring Coccoma, and the campaign of county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, to succeed Seward, keeping both influential positions in Otsego County.

Now, he and Lynn are busy, but looking forward to 2022, the next gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.

Not John Lambert, Somebody LIKE Him


Not John Lambert,

Somebody LIKE Him

Judge Lambert also coached his son John’s team to a state championship earlier this year. (Ian Austin/

Why does John Lambert, son of Cooperstown and now a county judge, keep coming to mind in the past few weeks?

Raised in that village, he was a good student and guard on a top CCS Redskins’ basketball team that won two regional titles in the late 1980s. He graduated from Hartwick College in 1992, and earned a J.D. from New England School of Law in 1998.

Then he came home, practiced law, and with wife Katie began raising a family. He created the firm of Lambert & Trossett, and was elected to the county bench in 2009. Anyone who sees him preside has to be impressed by his gravitas, humanity and common sense.

An outstanding citizen, native born, and there are many such sensible people among us. Start making up your own list. Great party game.

So, when it was argued during the county board Dec. 4 debate over creating a county administrator position that no one of quality could be recruited and, if he or she were, could be kept here, it rang hollow.

What about all the graduates honored annually with Clark Scholarships or help from Oneonta’s Dollars for Scholars? What about the 2,000 graduates sent forth annually from SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College?

We’re talking about thousands of young, energetic, outstanding people, smart and educated, who know the county, love the county, and might be attracted back as county administrator, thrilled to make their Otsego County a better place, now and for years to come.

Like whom? Well, not John Lambert, he’s spoken for. But someone LIKE John Lambert. Let’s keep him in mind as the process of recruiting our first county administrator moves forward.

Fenimore Gives Champs Honorary Memberships

Fenimore Gives Champs

Honorary Memberships

The Fenimore Art Museum bestowed honorary membership on the state champion CCS Hawkeyes’ Varsity Basketball Team last Friday during the spring member reception. At right, Fenimore President Paul D’Ambrosio, center, and Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch congratulate Coach John Lambert. Team members are, first row, from left, Kyle Meyer, Ben Tafuro and Spencer Lewis; second row, Kyle Santello and Ryan Lansing; third row, Jack Lambert, Calvin Sandler and Jesse Furnari; fourth row, Noah Lifgren and John Kennedy. (Todd Kenyon photo)
Boggs Sends Lambert AttaboyAs Hawkeyes Enter NY Tourney

Boggs Sends Lambert Attaboy

As Hawkeyes Enter NY Tourney

Boggs entered the Hall of Fame in 2004.

COOPERSTOWN – Hall of Famer Wade Boggs knows about winning, and is hoping some of his good-luck dust will rub off on CCS Hawkeye Boys Varsity Basketball Coach John Lambert, his pal.

“Congrats to my golf partner in Cooperstown @JohnLambert2020 on the championship.  good luck Judge in States,” the Red Sox hitter and 2004 Inductee tweeted at 1:17 p.m. today.

Lambert’s Hawkeye team (as well as the CCS girls) is headed to the state quarter finals in Binghamton this Sunday.  The coach is also Otsego County judge.


County Officials To Be Sworn In


SWEARING IN – 1 p.m. State Sen. Jim Seward, Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr., County Judge John Lambert, Coroners David Delker & Christian Shaefer, County Judge Brian Burns to administer the oath. Public welcome. Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta.

‘Team Fetterman’ Welcomes Judge

‘Team Fetterman’

Welcomes Judge

Lamberts Become 1st Father-Son Pair

In Cooperstown’s Most Honored Ranks

Other members of “Team Fetterman” joined the latest honoree, county Judge John Lambert, after today’s luncheon at The Otesaga. Front row, from left, are Mark Rathbun, Jack Vineyard, Pat Hazzard, Frank Miosek, Lambert, Bobby Hall, Ted Kantorowski, Brenda Wedderspoon-Gray, Dave Adsit, Brenda Jaeger and Bruce Andrews.  Second row, from left, Mike Perrino, Ed Hazzard, Bud Lippitt, Dave Bliss, Sharkey Nagelschmidt, Bob Snyder and Ted Spencer.  (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

John Lambert and Jane Forbes Clark pose for photographs today after she presented him with the Fetterman Award.

COOPERSTOWN – It was a lesson in the right attitude.

County Judge John Lambert, honored as the latest recipient of the Clark Sports Center’s Fetterman Award today at an Otesaga luncheon, was able to relate a first-hand story about Patrick Fetterman, a fabled director of the Clark Gym.

It was at a Biddy Basketball Tournament in St. Johnsville more than three decades ago.  Lambert was in sixth grade; Fetterman was coaching, when one of the Cooperstown players made everyone’s concern explicit:  “They’re cheating with the clock,” he said.

Focus Pleads Guilty, Fined $5k For Crimes


Focus Pleads Guilty,

Fined $5k For Crimes

Otsego County Judge John Lambert goes over a copy of a plea agreement between CCRN LLC and the state Attorney General’s Office with Attorney Richard S. Harrow, representing CCRN LLC, which operated the Focus nursing home in the town of Otsego. The corporation pleaded guilty this morning to one count of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled individual, a Class E felony. The maximum fine under this type of felony is $5,000, which Lambert ordered the corporation to pay.  Focus’ top executive, Joseph Zupnik and Daniel Herman, pleaded guilty to a related count Sept. 12 in Otsego Town Court and face $1 million fine, community service and a banning from the nursing-home industry when they appear for sentencing Oct. 10 in the Fly Creek town court.  (Parker Fish/
Ruffles Sworn In As County Treasurer

Ruffles Sworn In

As County Treasurer

With his wife Amy, and his two children Mia, 9, and Cooper, 4, by his side, Allen Ruffles takes the oath of office on this morning, marking the beginning of his tenure as Otsego County treasurer. Ruffles is succeeding Dan Crowell, who opted to step down at the end of 2017. (Parker Fish/
CALLAHAN, DAY ONE: Would Rig Driver Feel Tires Going Over Body?


Would Rig Driver Feel

Tires Going Over Body?

By PARKER FISH • Special to

Presiding County Judge John Lambert discusses a legal point during this morning.s opening arguments. (Ian Austin/

COOPERSTOWN – As the prosecution’s first witness, truck driver George Borrowdale, recalled seeing Elizabeth Welsh Callahan next to the cab of husband Casey Callahan’s flatbed truck, bending down to tie her shoe.

“I thought to myself ‘That’s a stupid place to tie a shoe,’” he said.

Borrowdale said he was 50 feet from the scene of the accident, refueling his own truck when he saw her being run over by the rear tires of the truck, moving “two or three miles per hour.”

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