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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 sheriff’s department

Sheriffs, Code Enforcement Tasked With COVID-19 Complaints

Sheriffs, Code Enforcement

Investigate COVID-19 Complaints

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr.

COOPERSTOWN – If you see something, Governor Cuomo suggests, say something.

“We’ve been contacted about businesses having too many people in the store, people not wearing masks, that sort of thing,” said Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr.

As part of Cuomo’s executive order, complaints can be lodged by citizens if they see non-essential businesses open, non-emergency private construction work, or gatherings where more than 10 people are present. The complaints are anonymous, and local law enforcement is sent out to investigate.

In addition to the deputies, the county’s Code Enforcement Office is responding from complaints against contractors.

Sheriff: Employee Stole Masks From Bassett

Sheriff: Employee Stole

Face Masks From Bassett

COOPERSTOWN – A Morris woman was accused of stealing face masks and alcohol prep pads from Bassett Hospital, where she worked as a contracted employee, according to the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department.

Josie D. Wright, 33, was arrested after Bassett Security called the Sheriff’s Department  to assist them in an investigation into the thefts of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the hospital.

K-9s AT REST As Time Takes Toll, Ricky, Mika Head For Retirement

K-9s AT REST

As Time Takes Toll, Ricky,

Mika Head For Retirement

Sheriff’s Deputies Keith Sheldon, at left with Ricky, and Kris Solovitch with Mika, await their next call at the sheriff’s department. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – Like many retirees, Mika is looking forward to the day when she can finally relax at home.

“She’ll finally be allowed on the couch,” said Mika’s handler, Sheriff’s Deputy Kris Solovitch. “She can play fetch and just be a dog, rather than having to go to work.”

Sheriff’s deputies Solovitch, left,  and Sheldon pauses with their K9s at a monument to police dogs killed in the line of duty.

K-9 Mika, 10, along with K-9 Ricky, 9, assigned to Deputy Keith Sheldon, are scheduled to retire from the force this fall.

“Ricky’s just going to take it easy, spend time with the kids,” said Sheldon.

Ricky was assigned to Sheldon in July 2012 and the team graduated from the State Police Canine Academy in Cooperstown in December 2012.

“My uncle, Hank Sheldon, was a K-9 handler,” he said. “I’ve always been a dog person, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”

Trained in narcotics detection, Ricky is brought onto the scene when deputies or troopers need to search a vehicle or residence. “We found a bunch of heroin in a PlayStation console one time,” he said. “We were searching a vehicle, and Ricky hit on the console. We opened it up and sure enough, it was packed with heroin.”

Mika, meanwhile, has never gotten to fully utilize her specialty as a bomb-detecting dog.

“We’re brought in to sweep the streets ahead of Hall of Fame weekend, and we’ve responded to a lot of bomb threats,” he said. “There was a threat called into Hannaford, and she had to sweep the whole store. It turned out to be nothing, which is the difference between our dogs – you hope Ricky will find something, but you hope Mika won’t!”

He did credit Mika with finding several high-capacity magazines during a search of a home in Schenevus. “Most of all, she’s a food hound,” he joked. “She knows when she comes into work, everyone wants to give her a treat.”

And both dogs are trained in tracking. “We got a mental health call that someone had fled into the woods,” said Sheldon. “It was a successful track, and we found the person and were able to get them the help they needed.”

Both are trained in handler protection, but they’ve never had to use it, and have never bitten a suspect during an arrest. “I’d had her with me about a month when Mika was brought in on a domestic,” said Solovitch. “I took her into the woods, and I didn’t think she was doing what I needed her to do. I was about to call her back when I heard a guy screaming that he was coming out.”

“I had someone in a house who had a felony warrant out on them and they weren’t coming out,” said Sheldon. “I had Ricky all ready, the bite collar on and he started to bark, and the guy came right out!”

Handlers name their dogs, usually for a fallen law enforcement official.

Ricky’s namesake is Investigator Ricky A. Yerdon, a fraud investigator for the county who passed away unexpectedly on June 30, 2008.

Mika is named for Army Cpl. Michael L. Mayne of Burlington Flats. Mayne died on Feb. 23, 2009, from wounds received during an insurgent attack on his unit in Balad, Iraq.

Mika and Ricky are the first two K-9s to retire from the sheriff’s department; the other three in service died of natural causes while still on active duty. “Mika has some arthritis in her back, and Ricky is going blind in one eye,” said Solovitch. “It’s time.”

Solovitch will continue working as a K-9 handler; Sheldon will return to regular duties. “It’s time to let someone else take a turn,” he said.

Four other deputies have put in for the position, Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. said. “It’s a 24/7 job,” he said. “It’s like having a child! But both deputies and K-9s have done a great job.”

Solovitch expects that his new K-9 partner will arrive later this spring; they will train at the Oneida County Academy and be ready in time for Mika’s retirement in the fall.

“There’s going to be a period of adjustment because I’ll have this other dog, but Mika will want to come into work,” he said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to minimize that stress for her.”

But because the dogs are county property, both Deputies will have to buy them in order to take them home. “We have to pay $1,” said Solovitch. “I think it’s worth it, though.”

5 Trucks Deemed Unfit For Roads During Sheriff’s Safety Inspection

5 Trucks Unfit For Roads,

Sheriff’s Inspection Finds

Otsego County Sheriff’s deputies conducted a Commercial Vehicle Enforcement safety check inspection on Friday, Dec. 5 in Exeter.

EXETER – Five of 12 trucks inspected during a Commercial Vehicle Enforcement safety check inspection were deemed unfit for the road and taken out of service, the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department reported on their Facebook page.

On Thursday, Dec. 5, Deputy Sheriff Grimes along with Deputy Sheriff Thornhill partnered with the NYS Department of Transportation in the Town of Exeter to conduct a Commercial Vehicle Enforcement safety check inspection.

Missing Hartwick Woman, Dog Found Dead

A MYSTERY’S SAD CONCLUSION

Hunters Find Woman,

Dog Dead In Woods

By  LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Roxanne Shipman-Hull

HARTWICK – Roxanne Shipman-Hull, 48, the Hartwick woman who went missing in late September, was found yesterday morning dead in her car in the woods in Plainfield, Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. confirmed this afternoon.

According to Devlin, hunters on the state land near the area of Adams Pond Road and Mason Road on the Plainfield State Land came across a Honda-CRV sitting “a few hundred feet” back from the road on Sunday morning.

Cooperstown Man Arrested In Railroad Avenue Burglary

Cooperstown Man Arrested

In Railroad Avenue Burglary

The door to Upstate Companies was damaged during last night’s alleged burglary at 21 Railroad Avenue.  Ommegang’s business office, at the end of the hall, was also broken into. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Abbate

COOPERSTOWN – A Cooperstown man was arrested hours after he allegedly broke into offices at 21 Railroad Ave. and stole items, including a computer and money.

Richard C. Abbate, 18, allegedly broke into the building after 11 p.m. last night and stole items from several offices, including a laptop from the Ommegang’s business office and meat from the Green Cow butcher shop.  He also allegedly took money from an office, and damaged several doors, including at Upstate Companies.

Police Investigating Break-In At 21 Railroad Avenue

Police Investigating

Break-In, Robbery

At 21 Railroad Ave.

At this hour, Cooperstown Police and the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department are investigating an overnight break-in at 21 Railroad Ave. in Cooperstown. According to witnesses, the staff of Duvel Moortgat arrived to find that their door handle had been tampered with and a laptop was missing; the door handle of the Law Guardian office was also broken off and the door to Upstate Companies was kicked in. The staff of the Hometown Oneonta/Freeman’s Journal/AllOTSEGO.com was at their offices on the first floor until 11 p.m. last night, but told police they did not hear anything unusual. The building has been evacuated and is currently considered a crime scene. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Fleeing Car Hit Deputy’s Cruiser In Westbound Lane

BULLETIN

Fleeing Car Hit

Deputy’s Cruiser

In Westbound Lane

Ending a few minutes ago in the Oneonta State Police Barracks, BCI Capt. Scott Heggelke and county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr. give particulars on Tuesday’s hot pursuit and fatal crash. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – Sheriff’s Deputy Jim Mateunas was parked in the westbound lane of  Route 20 in his Chevy Tacoma with his emergency lights flashing when Matthew All, fleeing state police in hot pursuit, plowed into the deputy’s cruiser at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday at 115 mph, according to a just-completed press briefing at the Oneonta State Police Barracks.

Earlier reports had the cruiser on the side of the highway.  There was no evidence All braked or tried to avoid the collision, County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. and Capt. Scott Hegelke of Troop C’s BCI unit said during the briefing.

The impact of All’s Buick LaCrosse pushed Mateunas’ SUV 200 feet, the equivalent of twice the length of the Oneonta barracks building on Oneida Street.

The autopsy showed All, 23, of Sharon Springs, was not intoxicated.  The briefing revealed All and Robin Church, the woman he was arguing with in front of the Richfield Springs State Police Barracks before the chase ensued, had been co-workers at some point, and he had been “harassing” her for a year.

CHECK BACK BY 3 P.M. FOR FULL STORY

Sheriff’s Deputies Seized Mushrooms, Marijuana, From Car

2 TEENS ARRESTED AFTER CRASH

Sheriff’s Deputies Seize

Mushrooms, Marijuana

Marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms were allegedly found in a car being driven by Skyler Blass and Treyton Hathaway.
Skyler Blass
Treyton Hathaway

ONEONTA – Otsego County Sheriff’s deputies arrested two teenagers and seized three pounds of psilocybin mushrooms and five pounds of marijuana after locating a vehicle that had allegedly fled the scene of an accident over the weekend.

Skyler D. Blass, 19, Otego, and Treyton J. Hathaway 18, Oneonta, were arrested after Otsego County Sheriff’s Deputies were alerted by Otsego County 911 to be on the lookout for a vehicle that had fled the scene of a crash in the Town of Davenport.

Sheriff Advises: Take Care Of Your Outstanding Warrants

Warrant Sweep Begins,

Sheriff Devlin Advises

If One’s Outstanding For YOU, Take Care Of It

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – A warrant round-up is about to begin, and county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin is advising anyone with an outstanding fine or citation to appear in person to avoid being arrested as the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office executes a warrant roundup.

In a posting on the department’s official Facebook page, Devlin said that the sheriff’s deputies will be seeking out people with warrants pending to clear up their records.

SPCA, Sheriff, DA Form Animal Cruelty Task Force

SPCA, Sheriff, District Attorney

Form Animal Cruelty Task Force

John Muehl, Otsego County District Attorney, Stacie Haynes. executive director of the Susquehanna SPCA and Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. have partnered to begin establishing an Animal Cruelty Task Force, aimed at preventing, educating and empowering law enforcement on how to deal with animal cruelty cases.

COOPERSTOWN – The Susquehanna SPCA will partner with the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s office to look at creating a task force dedicated to combating animal cruelty in the county.

“In addition to having a system in place for when we do have animal cruelty cases involving animal seizures, we plan to educate and empower law enforcement and the public about the humane treatment of animals and what we can do if we suspect cruelty,” said Stacie Haynes, executive director of the Susquehanna SPCA, in a statement.

Arrest Made in Pig Abuse Case

Arrest Made In

Pig-Neglect Case

With a container of dry corn, Alicia Neilsen seeks to lure one of the four rescued pigs into the Susquehanna Animal Shelter on Monday.  Neilsen, a volunteer at Leatherstocking Veterinary Services, New Berlin, is assisted by SAS volunteer Cat Chicorelli, left.. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Jared Talbot

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – An Oneonta man was arrested and charged with torturing animals after Otsego County sheriff’s deputies rescued his four emaciated pigs Monday from an un-insulated shed on Fisk Road in Laurens.

Jared J. Talbot, 21, was arrested today following a civilian complaint that led deputies to his property, where four pigs were found living without food or water and in an improper shelter.

100 Marijuana Plants Seized In Morris Raid

100 Marijuana Plants

Seized In Morris Raid

Christian Balmaceda
Joseph Ali

MORRIS – Two men were arrested and 100 pounds of marijuana seized after the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department raided two indoor growing operations in Morris and New Lisbon.

Christian Balmaceda, 47, Morris, and Joseph D. Ali, 49, New Lisbon, were both arrested after an investigation lead the Sheriff’s Deputies and the DEA to search the residences of both men.

Man Charged With Stealing Guns

Man Charged With Stealing Guns

Garreau

LAURENS – A Sherburne man was arrested by the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department after he allegedly stole five guns and other items from a Laurens residence.

According to the complaint, Richard Garreau, aka Ricky Diamond, 22, was allowed to live with and was given a job by the victim. After Garreau moved out, the victim allegedly found that five guns and other personal items had been stolen from the residence and filed a report with the Sheriff’s Department.

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