News of Otsego County

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


Otsego County Sheriff

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.

Traffic Stop Yields 3 Arrests, 4 Bags of Heroin

Springfield Traffic Stop Yields

4 Bags of Heroin, 3 Arrests

Michael Clapper
Michael Clapper
Kimberly Clapper
Kimberly Clapper
Austin Yaw
Austin Yaw

SPRINGFIELD – Three Springfield residents were charged with possession of heroin and marijuana after a traffic stop on State Highway 80.

Just before 5 p.m yesterday, a county Sheriff’s investigator made a traffic stop on a vehicle being driven by Kimberly Clapper, 29, Springfield Center. During the investigation, four knotted baggies of heroin and drug paraphernalia were recovered. Clapper, as well as her two passengers, Michael Clapper, 38, and Austin Yaw, 21, both of Springfield Center, were all taken into custody.

Sheriff Releases Photos of Robbery Suspect


Sheriff Releases Photos

Of NBT Robbery Suspect

The suspect strides across the lobby of NBT's Edmeston branch this morning in this video released by the Otsego County Sheriff's Department.
The suspect strides across the lobby of NBT’s Edmeston branch this morning in this video released by the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department.  If you think you recognize him, call the sheriff’s department at (607) 547-4273.


Here's a closeup of the suspect at a teller station.
Here’s a closeup of the suspect at a teller station.

EDMESTON – The Otsego County Sheriff’s Department a few minutes ago released surveillance photos from this morning’s robbery at NBT Bank’s branch here.

The suspect is being described as mid-late 20s, between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-10, with a tall, thin build.  He was last seen wearing light colored pants, a dark colored hooded sweatshirt, dark colored shoes, a dark colored knit hat and dark rimmed glasses.

The suspect allegedly entered the bank and demanded money from the teller, then fled with an undetermined amount of cash.

Milford Dad Accused Of Shaking Toddler

Milford Dad Accused

Of Shaking Boy, DWI

Zachary Kaplan
Zachary Kaplan

MILFORD – A father from Milford was accused of shaking his toddler and then nearly hitting him with a car as he drove away.

Troopers were made aware of a dispute at the home of Zachary Kaplan, 26, and during the investigation determined that he had grabbed and shaken the two year-old during a dispute.  He fled the premises, nearly striking the child again, and was arrested by Otsego County Sheriff’s Deputies after he rolled his 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee.  He was uninjured in the crash.

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.

K-9 Ricky Apprehends Suspected Drug Dealer

K-9 Ricky Helps To Apprehend

Suspected Oneonta Drug Dealer

Harry Edmond
Harry Edmond

ONEONTA – K-9 Ricky and his handler, Sheriff’s Investigator Keith Sheldon, brought down a suspected drug dealer trying to flee the scene of a raid at his home early Wednesday morning.

Harry Edmond, 45, of 34 Maple St., was arrested after members of the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office Special Enforcement Bureau, along with D.A. investigators, DEA special agents and patrol and detective bureau members from the Oneonta Police Department executed the no-knock narcotics search warrant at 8 a.m. Wednesday.  Edmond tried to flee scene through a secondary door, but was detained by K-9 Ricky and Investigator Sheldon. 

Seized in the raid were nine and a half pounds of processed high grade marijuana, valued at $28,500, small quantity of crack cocaine, and electronic digital scale, an electronic stun gun and $16, 852.

Fourth Person Arrested In Walmart Drug Bust

4th Person Arrested

In Walmart Drug Bust

Dennis Mitchell

ONEONTA – A man who allegedly purchased marijuana from Jason Lee Foster in the Walmart parking lot in Southside Oneonta has been arrested, the county District Attorney’s office reported today.

Dennis Curtis Mitchell, 31, of Sidney, is alleged to have taken an ounce of marijuana out of Foster’s unlocked truck and left $250 cash in its place on Thursday, Dec. 15.  

A warrant of arrest for conspiracy in the sixth degree, a misdemeanor, was obtained by the Town of Oneonta court for his arrest on Dec. 24, and yesterday, with assistance from the Village of Sidney police department, Mitchell was arrested.

He was arraigned by Oneonta Town Judge Bruce A. Smith and remanded to the county Correctional Facility on $500 bail, returnable Jan. 21 in Town of Oneonta Court.  

Chief Assistant District Attorney Michael F. Getman is prosecuting the case.

Three Arrested In WalMart Drug Bust

Three Arrested In

WalMart Drug Bust

Jason Lee Foster
Joseph Lukeman
Alice Foster
Alice Foster

ONEONTA – Three Mount Vision residents were arrested this afternoon on a variety of charges after investigators observed “suspicious activity” in the WalMart parking lot on Southside Drive, Oneonta.

On Thursday, Dec. 15, investigators observed a suspected drug deal in the Walmart parking lot and observed, in plain view, two pills in a plastic baggie inside the vehicle.  They traced the vehicle’s owner, Jason Lee Foster, 33, and determined that earlier that morning, he left an ounce of marijuana that he was going to sell in his unlocked pickup truck in the parking lot. Another individual later went into Foster’s truck, retrieved the marijuana and left $250 in cash.  

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