News of Otsego County

Otsego County Sheriff

Serving Side By Side

Serving Side By Side

From left, are Sheriff Richard Devlin, Jason Davis, Phil Couse and Cornell Morris. (Photo provided)

COOPERSTOWN—The Otsego County Sheriff’s Office welcomed Otsego County Veterans’ Service Agency Director Phil Couse, Binghamton Vet Center Director Cornell Morris and Vet Center Veteran Outreach Program Specialist Jason Davis recently, to learn more about services available for veterans and to receive literature and contact information for department patrols.

According to a recent release from the Sheriff’s Office, Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional counseling to eligible veterans, service members including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families.

To learn more, visit

Political Candidates Speak Out: Backgrounds, Goals Explained – Otsego County Sheriff

Political Candidates Speak Out:
Backgrounds, Goals Explained

Meet the Candidate for Otsego County Sheriff for Election Day, November 8, 2022

Publisher’s Note: We sent out an e-mail asking the candidates for the major political races next week to share information about themselves, so our readers can get to know them a little better. Every candidate had the opportunity to return their answers. We asked them:

A. Please tell us about yourself.
B. If you were elected to office, what are your top priorities and why?

We have run these answers over the last few weeks, in hopes this will help in your decision-making process on Tuesday, November 8. Please get out and vote!

Richard Devlin Jr., Republican party


Toss your old medications safely

Toss your old medications safely

Bassett Healthcare warns thousands of Americans call poison control hotlines, get admitted to the hospital, or die each year because of home medication errors or accidental consumption. Eliminating unneeded medications can save lives, they say, especially for children, the elderly, and, yes, pets.

Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin and Bassett Healthcare will provide an opportunity for county residents to dispose of those no-longer-needed medicines in a safe way on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, happening Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

See the below for collection sites throughout Otsego County.

Arrest Made In NBT Bank Robbery

Arrest Made In NBT Bank Robbery

The City of Oneonta Police Department announced this afternoon they had made an arrest in connection to the December 29th, 2021, robbery of the NBT bank on Wall Street.

Elijah Vergari, 29, of Oneonta was arraigned in Otsego County Court on Monday February 14th, for third degree robbery. Bail was set at $10,000 due to an existing pending felony charge in Delaware County.

Vergari was remanded to the custody of the Otsego County Sheriff.

Milford man arrested for domestic dispute involving knife

Milford man arrested for domestic dispute involving knife

The Otsego County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man in a dispute involving a knife in the Town of Milford, following an investigation.

Steven Keach, 29, allegedly destroyed property at a residence on January 27. He was taken into custody and charged with assault, criminal mischief, endangering the welfare of a child, criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, and aggravated harassment in the second degree.

Mr. Keach was remanded to Otsego County Correction Facility with $2,500 cash bail or $5,000 bond.


Neglected horses rescued from farm

Neglected horses rescued from farm

STAFF REPORT • Special to

The Susquehanna SPCA, with help from the Otsego County Sheriff, rescued some 30 horses from a farm that was apparently hoarding them.

Stacie Haynes said on Facebook that they worked more than 30 hours to relieve the farmer from those horses, who was unable to manage the amount that he had.

“Seriously cannot thank the many amazing people who have stepped up to help,” Haynes said in a Facebook post. “As always, the SQSPCA staff and our Sheriff’s Deputies have and will continue to go above and beyond for animals. The volunteers are the absolute best.”

Most of the horses were relocated to the Otsego County Fairgrounds. The owner of the horses was not criminally charged.


New Paltz Man Charged In Pittsfield Vehicle Theft

New Paltz Man Charged

In Pittsfield Vehicle Theft

NEW BERLIN – A New Paltz man suspected of stealing a motor vehicle in November from a Town of Pittsfield business and driving it to Pennsylvania has been arrested, sheriff’s deputies reported today.

Billy J. Bates was taken into custody on Jan. 9, charged with Grand Larceny, third degree.  He was held in county jail pending arraignment, then released, deputies said.

Sheriff ‘Very Pleased’ As Results Finalized

Sheriff ‘Very Pleased’

As Results Finalized

A few minutes ago, results from the Otsego County Board of Elections confirmed state Sen. Jim Seward’s Election Night confidence in congratulating County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr., on winning a fourth four-year term.  In reaction to this evening’s news that a canvass has confirmed his reelection, Sheriff Devlin said a few moments ago, “We’re very pleased with the outcome.  It’s consistent with what votes were running on Election Night.  We’re pleased with the results and look forward to serving  residents for another four years.”  His opponent, retired state trooper Bob Fernandez, declined to concede Election Night, and a call to him this evening was not immediately returned.  ( photo)

Are We Doing Political Debates Right? Let’s Talk About It

Editorial for November 2, 2018

Are We Doing Political Debates

Right? Let’s Talk About It

The Freeman’s Journal – When League moderator Barbara Heim challenges audience members to step up if they can do better at the Oct. 22 Devlin- Fernandez debate, Tom Leiber offers to do so.

League of Women Voters’ moderators lost control of the Monday, Oct. 22, debate between the incumbent Otsego County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr., and his challenger, retired state trooper Bob Fernandez.
Not the candidates – the League, to the point where moderator Barbara Heim of Oneonta threatened at least twice to shut it down and send home the 150+ attendees who packed The Fenimore Museum Auditorium, filled folding chairs in the aisles and crowded into the hallway, trying to hear the goings-on inside.
The dramatic highpoint came when Heim challenged the crowd: If you think you can do a better job, come up here. At that point, Tom Leiber of Oaksville, a pal of Fernandez going back to their high school days on Long Island, jumped up and volunteered.
That prompted the League’s debate organizer, Maureen Murray of Cooperstown, to jump up and, again, threaten that, if people misbehaved, she would kick everyone out.
Yes, the attendees – Devlin and Fernandez’
adherents alike – were pumped. Clearly, the League – this was the first co-organized by the Oneonta and Cooperstown chapters – didn’t know what to do.
And, of course, that was contrary to its
central mission: To help Democracy work. Why mistreat citizens interested and engaged enough to drive out, many from 22 miles hence, on a chilly, rainy night to participate in representative democracy?
Active citizens is what we all want – the League,
too – not what anyone wants to discourage.

Happily, in this season of debates leading up to the Nov. 6 mid-terms, the voting public was treated to an excellent contrasting example: The 19th District Congressional debate on WMHT, Troy, on Friday, Oct. 19, between incumbent U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, and the Democratic challenger, Antonio Delgado of Rhinebeck. It was co-sponsored by Albany Times Union.
As you might expect, the experienced moderator, Matt Ryan, host of the station’s Emmy-winning “New York Now” program, was comfortable appearing before a crowd. He had three seasoned journalists – the Times Union reporter David Lombardo and Senior Editor for News Casey Seiler, and Karen Dewitt from WAMC and a 10-station network of NPR stations.
At the outset, Ryan welcomed the audience to applaud “one time” when the candidates were introduced, then to refrain for a logical reason: “So we can ask more questions” within the one-hour limit.
Each candidate was given 90 seconds to answer to a question;
the rival 45 seconds to react – and that was it. Ryan halted any candidate who then tried to jump in. However, given the brisk pace, a candidate who may have felt shortchanged had a chance to expand his comment in responses to later questions.
Blood was drawn. Delgado tried to pin “racist” ads on Faso. Faso noted Delgado moved to the 19th from New Jersey two years ago, then immediately registered to run for Congress.
By the end audience members were given ample insights to help guide their votes, which is the point

In an interview with WMHT’s Ryan, it became clear that, even with a pro, soft skills are essential.
A time clock flags the candidates at 30 seconds, 15 seconds and zero, when bell rights softly, so no candidate is surprised. Ryan says he won’t just cut candidates off in mid-sentence. He gauges whether a candidate is just wrapping up and, if so, will give him a few seconds. If it looks like the candidate is warming up the topic, Ryan will politely – important word – move on.
The set-up of the room is important, too. Remarking on the argumentative Cuomo-Molinaro gubernatorial debate a few days later, he noted the candidates were too close to the moderator, allowing them to dominate. At the WMHT debate, Ryan was at a lectern, with candidates seated on one side, reporters on the other, establishing an air of formality.
Likewise, with proceedings being aired on live TV, candidates and audience alike tend to be better behaved, Ryan said. Locally, the debates have been videotaped for rebroadcast in the past, but that didn’t happen this time.

Bottom line, mistakes were made by people of good will. But a repeat should be avoided. The League organizers would be wise to convene a conversation of stakeholders – League organizers, the county Republican and
Democratic chairs, a winning and a losing candidate, representatives
of the press, and frequent attendees from the public – after Nov. 6 to talk through the whole approach. Maureen Murray was intrigued by such an idea.
Some additional issues:
• Two Otsego debates were cancelled because one of the candidates, Assemblyman Magee in the 121st District then Delgado, demurred. Thus, one candidate’s refusal to debate can prevent another from communicating his/her message to voters. That’s not right.
• A media representative from this newspaper was removed from the panel because a candidate objected. The reason given: the newspaper had endorsed the other candidate in the primary. The League shouldn’t punish a free press for making endorsements; the candidates shouldn’t control the League’s debate.
• Should the League have the exclusive franchise on local political debates? Maybe it could take the lead in forming an independent entity – it would include League representation, of course – to make sure all the local expertise available is brought to bear.
In commenting on AllOTSEGO’s
Facebook page, former Hartwick Town Supervisor Pat Ryan ended her critique with: “This opinion in no way is meant to disparage all of the good work the League does in supporting our right to vote and be informed on the issues!”
But, she added, “Let’s talk about the ground rules for the
Lincoln/Douglas debate, which was a true debate!” A true debate, indeed: frank, content-rich,
pointed and sufficiently polite, leading the best candidate to
victory at the polls. Indeed,
that’s the goal.

Bob Fernandez Makes It Official: He’s Running For County Sheriff

Bob Fernandez Makes It Official:

He’s Running For County Sheriff

Bob Fernandez

ONEONTA – Retired state trooper Bob Fernandez of Otego is announcing his candidacy for Otsego County sheriff at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at the Oneonta Veterans Club on Chestnut Street.

“The people of Otsego County deserve a professional law enforcement leader with experience and integrity,” he said in announcing the date.

Fernandez is challenging incumbent Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr.

County GOP Backs Devlin For 4th Term

County GOP Backs

Devlin For 4th Term

Fernandez Plans Primary Challenge

Bob Fernandez

Rich Devlin

MILFORD – The Otsego County Republican Committee endorsed county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. Saturday for a fourth term, according to county Chairman Vice Casale.

Casale said retired state trooper Bob Fernandez said he will circulate petitions to primary Devlin in a Sept. 10 primary.

The GOP chair said the secret ballot garnered 2-1 support for Devlin.  Fernandez said the actual count was 42-27.

Suspect Detained in Laurens Double Homicide

Suspect Detained in

Laurens Double Homicide

LAURENS – Otsego County Sheriffs have detained a suspect in a double homicide in the Town of Laurens last night.

Sheriff Richard Devlin Jr. said that a relative of the deceased called 911 at 8:49 p.m. to report that they had found two adult family members dead inside their residence.  Devlin declined to specify the age, gender or relationship of the deceased.

Two Arrested For Crack Cocaine, Taking Car

Pair Arrested For Heroin,

Crack Cocaine, Taking Car

WORCESTER – Two people were arrested with heroin, needles, crack pipes and crack cocaine after failing to return a car they had borrowed from a neighbor, according to the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department.

Andrew J. Robinson, 20, Worcester and Victoria C. Keever, 21, Schenevus, were arrested after deputies allege that a Worcester neighbor allowed the defendants to use their vehicle to make what they believed to be a short trip to the store on Sunday, March 12, for approximately one hour. The defendants allegedly failed to return the vehicle as agreed upon, and the next day, the resident notified the Sheriff’s Office.

Heroin, Cash Seized On Spruce Street

Heroin, Cash Seized

On Spruce Street

Chauncey S. Couse

ONEONTA – An Oneonta man was arrested following an investigation into the ongoing sale of heroin in the city, according to police reports.

Chauncey S. Couse, 48, was arrested after Oneonta Police served a search warrant at his residency at 84 Spruce St.  During a search, a quantity of heroin and cash were allegedly found by police, and Couse was charged with Class B Felony Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the third degree.

Camper Killed By Falling Tree Limb



SOUTH NEW BERLIN – A 24-year-old Rhode Island man was killed at the Grand Slam Campground during Saturday evening’s violent storm when a tree limb fell onto his tent, county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. announced this afternoon.

Ryan Sutcliffe, Cumberland, R.I., was  pronounced dead after a tree limb approximately 4 feet in diameter broke off during the storm, landing on his tent while he was sleeping.

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