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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Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr.

Police: Man Choked Woman, Tried To Burn House Down

Police: Man Choked Woman,

Tried To Burn House Down

COOPERSTOWN – Otsego County Sheriffs arrested a New Lisbon man after he allegedly choked a female victim and attempted to set her house on fire, according to Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr.

Joshua Donnelly, 32, New Lisbon, was arrested following a domestic dispute where he allegedly choked a woman in her home. “He crumpled up paper all over the house and tried to light it on fire,” said Devlin. “She put out the fire before it had the chance to burn and fled the scene.”

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.

Alpacas, Sheep Found Dead on New Lisbon Farm

Alpacas, Sheep Found

Dead In New Lisbon;

Farmer Faces Charges

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – A farmer was arrested after Otsego County Sheriff’s deputies, responding to a neighbor’s concern about animal cruelty, found dead animals on his New Lisbon farm.

Christopher M. D’Amato, 54, was arrested and charged with animal cruelty after deputies were called to the scene, where, while walking around the property, observed dead sheep and alpacas, deputies said.

Other farm animals, including horses, were found to be neglected, they added.

MAN DEAD IN EMMONS BARN FIRE

MAN FOUND DEAD IN

EMMONS BARN FIRE

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

The barn at 130 Riverstone Road from the Otsego County Real Property Tax records.

EMMONS – A man was found dead when Oneonta firefighters responded to a call about a barn fire at 130 Riverstone Road, according to Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr.

The Oneonta Fire Department was called to the scene of a fully involved barn fire at 11:20 p.m. last night. Schenevus, Milford and Pindars Corners all provided mutual aid, and they were on the scene until 4 a.m. this morning.

With Stolen Truck, Bail Reform Hits Home
FREED INMATE ACCUSED OF STEALING TRUCK

With Stolen Truck,

Bail Reform Hits Home

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

James Sitts

ONEONTA – Within three days of being released from the custody of the Otsego County Corrections under the state’s new bail reform, James C. Sitts, 39, Laurens, allegedly stole a pick-up truck from a residence in Laurens.

“He was awaiting trial on two home invasions,” said Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. “But under the new law, he was released on Dec. 31.”

Though in custody of Otsego County since December 2018, Sitts had been held on the count of burglary in the second degree at the Delaware County Jail, as the Otsego County Jail is undergoing repairs. “The jail put stipulations on his release,” said Devlin. “But, of course, he violated them. I figured it would take a little longer, but we hit the ground running.”

On Friday, Jan. 3, sheriff’s deputies arrested Sitts after they received a report that a pick-up truck had been stolen in Laurens. The truck was found in another location, and Sitts was then arrested and charged with grand larceny, third degree, and criminal possession of stolen property, third degree, both class D felonies.

“The truck that was stolen was owned by someone who was self-employed,” said Devlin. “His tools were inside. So now the victim can’t work, doesn’t have the tools of his trade. He needs to make a living. This is exactly what we feared would happen.”

Sitts was remanded back to the Delaware County Jail, but because he had committed a felony while out on another felony, he was given the same bail as had been set for his previous charge, $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond.

“Sitts has been incarcerated 16 times,” said Devlin. “This isn’t someone who made an error in judgment one time. He’s been in and out of jail for years.”

Across the state, police departments and jails are dealing with the new laws. In Cohoes, Anthony Ojeda, 38, was released from jail after being charged with second-degree manslaughter, in the death of his 6-week-old son; in Cortland. Shawn Fagan, 52, was given an appearance ticket for felony second-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon after he shot a woman in the mouth with a pellet gun.

“It’s common sense,” said District Attorney John Muehl. “If the people who made this law didn’t see this coming, maybe they shouldn’t be the ones making laws.”

Devlin is also struggling with the new discovery requirements, which state that all evidence must be turned over to the defense within 15 days of arrest.

“My deputies spent two hours scanning documents on this stolen truck case,” said Devlin. “Even a normal traffic ticket that might take 20 minutes now takes two hours of paperwork. We’re completely overwhelmed.”

But on Monday, Jan. 6, Governor Cuomo admitted there are some issues in the law that need working out.

“There’s no doubt this is still a work in progress and there are other changes that have to be made,” he said. “The Legislature comes back next year and we’re going to work on it because there are consequences that we have to adjust for.”

“At the very least, we need to give judicial discretion on whether someone should be released or not,” said state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford. “What’s the risk of releasing someone. What’s
the risk to the community? My sense is there’s a groundswell of support for doing something there.”

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.”

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.

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.

Two Dozen Dead Cows Found on Town of Maryland Farm

2 Dozen Cows Dead

At Maryland Farm

Otsego County Sheriff’s deputies found more than two dozen dead cows in the barn of this Town of Maryland farm, on Route 7 right past Cooperstown Junction. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

The carcasses were found in this barn, some still tied up in their pens.

TOWN OF MARYLAND – The stench could be smelled for a mile.

More than two dozen dead cows in various states of decay were found in a barn on Route 7 in the Town of Maryland last night, after Otsego County Sheriff’s deputies were alerted to the conditions on the farm.

“It appears they all starved to death,” said Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. “There was no food or water. It’s despicable.”

15 live cattle, as well as goats and pigs, were seized from the farm, and another 17 were put into the pasture while arrangements for relocation were made.

Sheriff’s Deputy Injured In Springfield Crash

Sheriff’s Deputy Injured

In Springfield Crash

Deputy James Mateunas

SPRINGFIELD – A Sheriff’s Deputy is in surgery following a two-car crash at the intersection of Route 80 and Route 20 in Springfield at around 3 p.m. this afternoon.

“Deputy James Mateunas sustained multiple fractures to his legs and is in surgery,” said Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. “His patrol vehicle was hit head-on.”

Sheriff Issues Warning: Stay Off Roads Tonight

Sheriff Issues Warning:

Stay Off Roads Tonight

COOPERSTOWN – With Winter Storm Harper expected to bring snow to Otsego County tonight, Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. has issued a “No Unnecessary Travel Advisory” for the county, effective 6 p.m. tonight until 6 p.m. Sunday night.

Roads are not closed at this time, but hazardous driving conditions are likely to exist, including poor visibility, slippery roads, blowing and/or drifting snow. Devlin said that the advisory could be upgraded as the storm progressed.

Sheriff: Home Health Aide Stole $11,000 From Couple

Sheriff: Home-Health Aide

Stole $11,000 From Couple

Stephanie Shulgay

WORCESTER – A home-health aide was arrested after allegedly stealing $11,000 from an elderly couple in her care, according to Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr.

Stephanie Shulgay, 31, Worcester, allegedly took cash advances from the bank account of a 91-year-old man and his wife while working as as their home health aide, using their credit and debit cards.

Missing Otsego Woman Found Dead Near Home

Snow Melts, Missing

Woman’s Body Found

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Margaret Thayer

CATTOWN – The body of a 60-year-old woman missing since March 1 was located behind her home this morning in an area where snow drifts were recently several feet deep, Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. reports.

Deputies were at Margaret R. Thayer’s home on Parslow Road in the hamlet of Cattown, near Fly Creek, rechecking areas that have been previously searched by foot and with the help of K9s, Devlin said.

Foul play is not suspected at this time, the investigation is continuing, according to the sheriff.

Sheriff’s Son Ros Threatened Suicide, Court Order Reports

READ TEXT OF JUDGE’S ORDER

Sheriff’s Son Ros

Threatened Suicide,

Court Order Reports

Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. reports on jail matters at this morning’s meeting of the county Board’s Public Safety & Legal Affairs Committee. The committee then released a court order detailing the issues that led to the suspension of his son, Sgt. Ros Devlin, in January. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Fellow Jail Guard Testifies She

Feared What Might Happen Next

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – Sgt. Ros Devlin, angry at a supervisor, had threatened to “blow (his own) head off” in front of the supervisor’s desk, according to a court order denying him a pistol permit issued March 31 by County Judge Richard D. Northrup Jr. of Delhi.

The order was released a few minutes ago by county Rep. Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, who said he was doing so on the advice of County Attorney Ellen Coccoma.  Frazier chairs the county board’s Public Safety & Legal Affairs Committee, which is investigating the case of Sergeant Devlin, the son of county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr.

According to the order, the younger Devlin, between 9 and 10 a.m. Jan. 5, complained to Correctional Officer Catherine M. Hubbard about how her husband, First Sgt. Jared Hubbard, had reprimanded him for bringing a personal cell phone to work after telling him not to, and for parking a truck in an unauthorized space.

The younger Devlin “added that he would bring a duffle bag to work filled with guns and that he was going to walk in to the administration office and ‘blow my head off over First Sgt. Hubbard’s desk so that every time he blinked he can see my face explode’,” the order continues.

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