With Stolen Truck, Bail Reform Hits Home


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.”

One thought on “With Stolen Truck, Bail Reform Hits Home

  1. J

    This was a sham. First of all, Jimmy really is NOT a “Dangerous” person. Devlin insisted before this occurred, that a similar event would take place when the reform in to effect, and how convenient is it that it happened? Take a better look at his record. Just like so many others, 16 arrests include violations of perhaps a public intoxication or disorderly conduct with 2 serious charges. The Otsego county sheriff’s department has along with OPD and the NYSP over charge on everything they have presented to them. Someone commits a petit misdemeanor but is charged with with a felony charge right away, so they can pressure defendants in to accepting unethical plea deals for what they should have been charged with. Otsego county has zero interest in truth. The good old boys drive drunk, get high and get behind the wheel every day, town judges show up to lock someone up driving in there car while drenched in the smell of liquor, pulling up with no idea of what’s happening, because they have zero interest in truth! James didnt steal any truck. He was used as a scapegoat for Devlin and Muhl so they can try to justify locking up anyone they want for anything. I’m still waiting for a call back from the DA about finally taking a pedophile off the streets, and nobody returns my calls.

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