News of Otsego County

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

Troop C

Fleeing Car Hit Deputy’s Cruiser In Westbound Lane


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/

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

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.


Officers, Use Judgment: Law Allows You To Provide Mugshots To The Public


Officers, Use Judgment: 

Law Allows To Provide

Mugshots To The Public

The recently completed state budget contains a measure, championed by Governor Cuomo, that prohibits police departments from releasing mug shots of suspects.

The other day, Monday, April 22, Trooper Aga Dembinska, Trooper C spokesman, declined to release a mug shot of Gabriel Truitt, 33, suspect in the Dec. 29 arson fire on Oneonta’s Walling Avenue, where former city firefighter John Heller was killed.

Dembinska advised that, while the governor has yet to apply his signature to that part of the state budget that will make mug shots closely held in the future, the Department of State Police, which is under the governor’s administration, has put it in place, anticipating its approval.

“No one will get anything from us anymore,” she said.  Granted, she and Maj. Brian Shortall, Troop C commander, are simply following orders from headquarters, as they must.

At the time, Truitt was at large. As it happens, he was wandering in our midst.  But without the mug shot, how could anyone have identified him? This newspaper circumvented the ban by obtaining Truitt’s mug shot from a 2018 arrest report, but that’s going to be harder to do as time goes on.

Originally, Cuomo had intended to bar release of all police reports, in effect enabling secret arrests, anathema – and historically unprecedented – in our system of open justice.  And so is the mugshot ban.

Welcome to the Cheka, Albany style.

In proposing the mugshot ban, the governor put it this way in an interview on WAMC, Northeast Public Radio:

Pastors, Officials Offer Support To Local Sufis

Pastors, Officials Offer

Support To Local Sufis

A Cooperstown contingent – seated from left, Methodist Pastor Tom LeBeau, and Presbyterians Carol Beechy and Pastor Elsie Roades – attended Sunday evening’s service of solidarity at the Sufi community in Sidney.  (Ian Austin/

By IAN AUSTIN • Special to

Attendees include the Rev. Craig Schwallenberg, pastor of Oneonta’s UU Church.

SIDNEY CENTER – Spiritual leaders, mayors, law-enforcement officers, friends and neighbors gathered Sunday evening at the Sufi Muslim community of Osmanli Dergahi here to express solidarity after the mass shooting in Christ Church, New Zealand.

“You coming here shows you care.” said Junaid Khan, a leader of the community. “Facebook, twitter, they don’t matter. Thank you for taking action and coming here. It means a lot to us.”

A gunman entered Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch during Friday Prayer on March 15 and shot almost 100 worshipers, killing 50, in the worst mass shooting in that nation’s history.

Trooper Broke Hand In Father, Son Feud

K9 Unit Deployed To Break Up Fight

Trooper Broke Hand

In Father, Son Feud

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Michael Lubrano
Gary Lubrano

WORCESTER – A state trooper broke his hand and another injured his jaw and lip when they tried to break up the fight between a father and son last night alongside I-88 in the Town of Worcester, according to a release from Aga Dembinska, Troop C public information officer.

After a passerby alerted 911 that two males were apparently fighting on the roadside, a trooper responded and attempted to place Gary Lubrano, 65, Cobleskill, under arrest, according to the release. He resisted, and a physical altercation ensued; his son, Michael Lubrano, 34, Cobleskill, joined the fray, police said.

Trooper Injured In Fatal Shootout Returns To Duty



Trooper Injured

In Fatal Shootout

Returns To Duty

SIDNEY – Trooper Timothy Conklin, the 28-year state police veteran shot in the shoulder in a fatal shootout with a suspect Jan. 28,  has been cleared to return to duty.

Troop C Commander William McEvoy said Conklin’s assignment is still to be determined.

An investigation into the incident by Broome County District Attorney Stephen K. Cornwell Jr. and state police determined Conklin justifiably utilized deadly physical force to defend his life and the life of others.


Lyall H. Sage, 86; State Trooper

Guarded Rockefeller At Otesaga

Lyle Sage

FRANKLIN – Lyall H. Sage, 86, a state trooper who served on Nelson Rockefeller’s detail when the governor visited The Otesaga, passed away peacefully, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, at the Veterans Home in Oxford.

He was born on March 21, 1932, in Sayre, Pa., the son of Edna Sage. He graduated from Towanda High School in June 1950.

He married Roberta Moody Sage in Dushore, Pa., on May 3, 1952.

Troop C: Suspect Advanced, Firing Semi-Automatic

Troop C: Suspect

Advanced, Firing


Man, 30, Died At Route 17 Scene;

Officer Wounded In Left Shoulder

Troop C reported the suspect killed in last night’s shooting began firing through his back window with a semiautomatic when he was pulled over.  These bullet holes are in the window of Trooper Conklin’s cruiser.  (Troop C photo)

Editor’s Note: Troop C, which includes Otsego County, released this account of the shooting exchange last evening in the Town of Kirkwood, Broome County, where the investigating trooper was injured and the suspect killed.

Trooper Conklin lights a candle at last July’s funeral in Vestal for Trooper Nicholas Clark, shot in a standoff. Last night, Trooper Conklin had a narrow escape.

On Jan. 28, 2019 at approximately 6:09 p.m., the State Police at Binghamton received a report that Nicholas P. Philhower, age 30, had taken his mother’s motor vehicle without her permission and she requested he be located and arrested.  At approximately 6:20 p.m., Trooper Timothy S. Conklin, a 28-year veteran, observed the suspect vehicle traveling west on State Route 17 in the Town of Kirkwood.

Philhower observed Trooper Conklin approaching and took evasive action, traveling through the median at the intersection with Interstate 81, and then onto State Route 17 east bound, coming to a stop shortly thereafter.  At that point Philhower, who was armed with a military style semi-automatic rifle, immediately opened fire on Trooper Conklin through the rear window of the vehicle.

Troop C Officer Shot, Killed Man After Car Chase


Troop C Officer

Shot, Killed Man

After Car Chase

Press Conference Due At 2:30 Today

BINGHAMTON – A trooper in Troop C, which includes Otsego County, shot a suspect after a car chase early yesterday evening on Route 17 in the Town of Kirkwood, south of Binghamton.

The suspect later died, according to a press release issued today by Troop C, Sidney.

A press conference is planned at 2:30 p.m. today to release further details.

Missing Man Found Dead in Ravine

Missing Man

Found Dead

Steve Kassirer.

ONEONTA – Steven Kassirer, 53, the man whose car was found abandoned near the State Trooper barracks on Oneida Street was found dead late yesterday afternoon, State Trooper Aga Dembinska, Troop C public information officer, announced today.

His body was found in the brush behind the Safelite Auto Glass, where his car was found parked last week. According to police, he was last seen by his family in Irondequoit on Saturday, Oct. 20, after leaving his father’s funeral, and was later seen checking out of a motel in Binghamton on Tuesday, Oct. 23.

Troopers Defuse Hostage Crisis In Worcester

Troopers Defuse

Hostage Crisis

In Worcester

Edgar R. Gonzalez-Francis

WORCESTER – A hostage situation on Main Street yesterday afternoon ended with two people safe and a shotgun-toting 20-year-old man in custody, state police are reporting this morning.

At about 2:15 p.m., troopers were dispatched by 911.  when they arrived, the hostages exited the front of the residence but the suspect, Edgar R. Gonzalez-Francis, remained inside, reportedly armed with a shotgun, Troop C’s Public Information Office reports.

Missing Man’s Car Found In Oneonta

Missing Man’s Car

Found In Oneonta

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Steve Kassirer was reported missing last week and his abandoned car was found in Oneonta’s West End.

ONEONTA – A car belonging to a man reported missing last week was found in Oneonta’s West End, State Trooper Aga Dembinska, Troop C public information officer, announced today.

Steven J. Kassirer, 53, was reported missing by his employer, the Brattlebro Retreat in Vermont, after he failed to show for work on Tuesday, Oct. 23.

He had briefly been in contact with his employer on Monday, Oct. 22, stating that he would be in on the 23rd, but did not show and has not been heard from since.

Extra Patrols Out Due To Halloween

Extra Patrols Out

Due To Halloween

Ghostly Holiday Particularly Deadly,

So Cruisers, Unmarked Cars Alerted

SIDNEY – State Police. Troop C, which includes Otsego County, has announced its troopers and local law enforcement plan a crackdown on impaired driving and underage drinking through Halloween.

The enforcement campaign began last night and runs through Thursday, Nov. 1, and is funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.

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