News of Otsego County

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

GOP Lawmakers Rally Over Flaws In Justice Reform

GOP Lawmakers

Rally Over Flaws

In Justice Reform

Prosecutors, Sheriffs Join Chorus

Of Woes Emerging In Past 37 Days

The Democratic state Legislature’s justice reforms are “empowering repeat offenders,” state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, tells a rally this morning in the lobby of the Otsego County Jail.  With him are, from left, state Senate candidate Peter Oberacker, Schenevus; Assemblymen Chris Tague, Schoharie, and John Salka, Brookfield; Sheriffs Todd Hood, Madison County, Richard J. Devlin, Jr., who hosted today’s event, and Ray Stevens, Schoharie County; Assemblyman Robert Smullen, Montgomery County; Oneonta Police Chief Doug Brenner, Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl, Assemblyman Brian Miller, New Hartford, and Madison County Chief Assistant District Attorney Robert Mascari.  (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Senator Seward, left, Assemblyman Tague, right, and state Senate candidate Peter Oberacker confer before the start of today’s rally.

MIDDLEFIELD – It was a day for reporting nightmares.

Oneonta Police Chief Doug Brenner reported his officers apprehended a possible shoplifter, but were unable to hold the suspect under New York State’s criminal justice reforms. “Even before we are done” with the paperwork, the store owners called again.  “The shoplifter was back in their business,” the chief said.

All police agencies need informers to crack drug cases, said Schoharie County Sheriff Roy Brown.  Now, under new discovery provisions, “your informants will be disclosed before suspects can come to trial.”  Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Schoharie, said an informer on the MS-13 Puerto Rican gang was identified through disclosures required under the state reforms, and was killed.

County Board Gives $230,000 To Fix Jailhouse Roof

County Board Allocates

$230K To Fix Jail Roof

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – Even with $230,000 in emergency funding allocated by the Otsego County Board of Representatives to fix the leaking roof of the county’s Public Safety Building, it could still be six to eight weeks before inmates are returned to the jail.

“We have one estimate done and we’re waiting for another,” said Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. “We’ve also asked the architect that’s working on some other projects at the jail to give us a price for expanding services.”

SCOVIRO: Keep Town Justices, Police Separate
LETTER from JOSEPH SKOVIRA

Keep Town Justices,

Police Separate

To the Editor:

Delaware County, where I previously served as Delhi town justice, did not have the apparent problems as indicated in Otsego County concerning the arraignment of arrestee.

I was available for those early morning arraignments, sometimes covering for an unavailable justice court judge.

One such arraignment was for a burglary committed at a far end of this county. The arresting officer thought it was to his advantage to disregard calling perhaps five judges, called me at 3 a.m. in Delhi, have the arraignment, then dump the prisoner off at the Delaware County jail, which was a few minutes away, and then go to his home, and bed.

Needless to say, he was told, try that again, and see what happens.
Regarding your article, “ALL ARRAIGNMENTS NOW IN COUNTY JAIL LOBBY.”

The flaw with that is the problem within the meaning of our three branches of government. Years ago, the local town or village courts were called “police justice courts.” I like to think a local judge figured that one out, and had that name changed.

There are approximately 1,900 local justices in the states’ 62 counties.

That, along with ancillary costs, are funded by the local municipal governments, for which the state remits a small percentage of the total fines received.

Yes, system improvements need to be done, one of them might be called “district judges” similar to what I’ve witnessed while visiting Westchester, Pa., several years ago, funded by that state.

This state has superior control of the actions of the local justices, and the procedures within the courtroom, and yet, it only contributes that small percentage of fines monies, and let’s not forget a rather large New York State surcharge that the local judges must impose, whether the defendant is fined, or not.

Most importantly, we cannot have a courtroom in a police facility.

JOSEPH SKOVIRA
Delhi Town Justice (retired)

Repairs Underway At County Jail
Inmates Transferred After Leaks Reported

Repairs Underway At County Jail

COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego County jail has been temporarily closed and inmates relocated after leaks were discovered, putting inmates and staff at risk, according to a media release by Otsego County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr.

Accordng to Devlin, the cause of the leaks has been identified and are in the process of being repaired, but all inmates have been transferred to facilities in nearby counties.

Muehl: Decatur Twins Died Of Asphyxiation

DETAILS FROM PROSECUTOR:

DECATUR TWINS

ASPHYXIATED

16 DAYS APART

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Steeley

DECATUR – Kimberly Steeley’s infant twins, Bonde and Liam, both died from asphyxiation, according to District Attorney John Muehl.

“At first, everyone thought Bonde died of SIDS,” said Muehl. “Then 11 days later, Liam died of the same condition.”

Steeley, 27, Decatur, was indicted on two counts of second-degree manslaughter, one for each child, for recklessly causing the death of her children last June. The twins, born May 15, were barely a month old at the time of their deaths.

SHERIFF’S SON RESIGNS JOB, ENDING CASE

SHERIFF’S SON

RESIGNS JOB,

ENDING CASE

Roz Devlin ‘Chose Voluntarily’

To Separate From Department

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – When Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. took his oath of office last Tuesday, a new term began for him, and a new day for his department.

The allegations against his son, Roz Devlin, were resolved with the younger man’s resignation in December from his correctional officer position, county Board Chair David Bliss said today.

Two Inmates Arrested At Otsego County Jail

Inmate Faces Cocaine

Charge; 2nd, Assault

Nancy Callahan
Mark Russitano

COOPERSTOWN – A fight and possession of crack cocaine led to new charges against two Otsego County jail inmates, according to releases sent today by the county Sheriff’s Department.

Nancy Callahan, 39, Richfield Springs, was arrested Wednesday, May 2, for possession of crack cocaine while incarcerated.

Mark A. Russitano, 32, Utica, was arrested Monday, May 7, for fighting with another inmate, deputies said.

Woman Arrested For Bringing Drugs Into Jail

Deputies Allege Woman

Brought Drugs Into Jail

Danielle Dunham

COOPERSTOWN –  A Morris woman, Danielle J. Dunham, 36, was arrested after Otsego County Sheriff’s deputies allegedly found suboxone films on her during a search at the jail.

Deputies reported they were investigating reports that drugs were being brought into the county jail.  Dunham, who had been in and out of jail an intermittent sentence, was found with two suboxone sublingual films on her person, the investigators said.

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