WATERTOWN — Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, said she does not regret standing by embattled Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, who has agreed to resign his position by Monday as he prepares to defend himself against federal corruption charges.
“I don’t regret at all standing by the presumption of innocence until you are proven guilty,” Mrs. Russell told reporters during a news conference Wednesday. “I think that you will note that, except for two members of the Assembly who have never supported the speaker, we all shared in the same sentiments and the same public support of the speaker.”
Mr. Silver will be replaced temporarily by Joseph D. Morelle, a Rochester-area assemblyman who is the majority leader and a contender to succeed Mr. Silver permanently.
Mr. Morelle will assume duties as interim speaker on Monday, according to officials.
Last week, Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan, alleged that Mr. Silver used his political power and influence to amass a personal fortune by taking millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.
Mr. Silver has been speaker of the Assembly for more than 20 years, assuming power in 1994. Mr. Morelle, the interim speaker, was first elected in 1990.
Mrs. Russell defended Mr. Silver last week, asserting that the charges against him may have been politically motivated. She reiterated that theory Wednesday.
“There has been a lot of discussion about ulterior motives or a desire for this arrest to lead to reforms, as I actually believe is a sentiment that has been expressed by the U.S. Attorney,” Mrs. Russell said. “I don’t think that anybody can discount that there are politics at play at a certain level in this regard.”
Several Democrats, including Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, called for Mr. Morelle to take over as interim speaker Monday, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
Mrs. Russell also addressed questions about Production Unlimited, a sheltered workshop that provides employment for disabled workers. The workshop under threat of being closed down by the state over concerns about employees with disabilities working in a “segregated” setting.
The Jefferson County Board of Legislators Health and Human Services Committee endorsed a resolution Tuesday that would call on the state to reconsider its position. Several employees and families of employees who work at Production Unlimited came to the board meeting and said they were worried disabled employees wouldn’t be able to find work in a competitive setting.
Mrs. Russell said she supported the effort.
“This is an extremely important operation in this area,” Mrs. Russell said. “The arguments for shutting down these facilities is that there are opportunities elsewhere... There are many that really thrive and enjoy and look forward to working at Production Unlimited and I think that choice should be maintained in this community and in other communities where that model is working correctly.”
TUPPER LAKE — State police on Monday charged Jimmy J. Beaulieu, 31, of Ogdensburg, and Robert C. Kennedy, 49, of Tupper Lake, each with first-degree endangering the welfare of an incompetent person and first-degree falsifying business records, both felonies, and third-degree assault and making a false written statement, both misdemeanors
Troopers allege on Monday at the Sunmount Developmental Disabilities Services Office in Tupper Lake Mr. Beaulieu and Mr. Kennedy, who are employees at Sunmount, assaulted a 22-year-old resident, causing severe bruising to the left side of his face. The men then filed official paperwork implicating that another resident had committed the acts, troopers said.
Both men were arraigned at the Tupper Lake Town Court. Mr. Beaulieu was sent to Franklin County jail, Malone, on $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond. Mr. Kennedy was released under the supervision of the Franklin County Probation Department.
GOUVERNEUR - Visitors will likely find themselves smiling if they take time to check out artwork that will soon be on display at the Gouverneur Reading Room, 60 Church St.
“What Makes Me Smile,” is the theme of the Gouverneur Arts Club’s sixth annual student art show which runs from Feb. 10 to March 31.
The event provides fourth and fifth graders enrolled at Gouverneur Central School District and St. James Catholic School a chance to showcase paintings, sketches and other artwork they created in their school art classes this year.
“It’s important to give children a place to have their art on display in the community, not just in school,” said Marilyn C. Putman, the show’s coordinator. “It’s a big deal for them to see it in a public place.”
The student projects are supposed to be two-dimensional and incorporate what they’ve learned about two famous painters: Claude Monet, the famous Frech impressionist, or Georgia O’Keeffe, an American artist known for her close-range paintings of flowers and other natural forms.
More than 190 projects are expected to be displayed in the upstairs of the reading room, known as the loft.
“We pretty much take up the whole wall,” Mrs. Putman said. “There’s usually no space left over.”
Last year’s theme was weather fun.
A reception for artists and their families is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon March 21 and includes refreshments. Prizes, such as art supplies, will be awarded at each grade level for first, second and third place. Members of the Gouverneur Arts Club will serve as judges. There will also be a viewer’s choice award.
Winning art pieces will be displayed at the Gouverneur Key Bank from April 1-17.
The artwork can be viewed during regular hours at the Gouverneur Reading Room, which is open from noon to 8 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, from noon to 5 p.m. Fridays and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
Mrs. Putman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-0144.
BURGLARY - HAMMOND - Canton-based state police charged Donald C. Gilbo, 30, of Ogdensburg with two counts of third-degree burglary Tuesday stemming from an investigation reported to troopers Jan. 9 from the town of Hammond.
UNLAWFUL POSSESSION - Massena-based state police charged Sean C. Duciaume, 27, of Syracuse with unlawful possession of marijuana and ticketed him for an equipment violation - excessive window tint at 2:58 p.m. Monday following a traffic stop on state Route 37 in the town of Louisville.
CRIMINAL MISCHIEF - MOIRA - Malone-based state police reported Wednesday they had charged Devine W. Seiler, 18, of Malone with criminal mischief Sunday following an investigation into a domestic dispute.
FRAUD - MOIRA - Malone-based state police continued to make additional arrests Monday and Tuesday in a welfare fraud investigation into the Brushton-Moira area. Troopers charged Karen A. Godin, 53, of Brushton and Jessica A. Prtichard, 29, of North Bangor with petit larceny, three counts of second-degree criminal use of benefit cards and three counts of misuse of food stamps. Troopers charged Misty M. Peterson, 35, of Constable with petit larceny, solo counts of second-degree criminal use of a benefit card and misuse of food stamps and making a false written statement.
ASSAULT - TUPPER LAKE - Ray Brook-based state police charged Jimmy J. Beaulieu, 31, of Ogdensburg and Robert C. Kennedy, 49, of Tupper Lake with third-degree assault, first-degree falsifying business records, making a false written statement and first-degree endangering an incompetent Monday following an investigation into an assault reported Jan. 14 from Tupper Lake.
They are charged with assaulting a consumer at Sunmount Developmental Disabilities Services Office (DDSO) in Tupper Lake.
Mr. Beaulieu and Mr. Kennedy, who are employees at Sunmount, allegedly assaulted a 22-year-old resident, causing severe bruising to the left side of his face. The men then filed official paperwork charging another consumer had committed the acts.
Mr. Beaulieu and Mr. Kennedy were both arraigned at the Tupper Lake Town Court . Mr. Beaulieu was sent to the Franklin County Jail, Malone, with bail set a $5,000 cash or $10,000.00 bond. Mr. Kennedy was released under the supervision of the Franklin County Probation Department.
Both men are to reappear Feb. 18 in the town of Tupper Lake Court.
PROPERTY DAMAGE ACCIDENTS - CANTON - State police investigated a number of property damage accidents on Tuesday around the region. Among those:
• Brian P. Dusselier, 48, of Waterloo at 10 a.m. on state Route 3, near state Route 56, in the town of Colton.
• William V. Bronner, 48, of Albany and Benjamin M. Andre, 23, of Brushton at 11:58 a.m. on Park Street, near Third Street, in the village of Malone.
AGGRAVATED UNLICENSED OPERATION - MASSENA - Village police charged Samual L. Pruner, 36, of 106 Bishop Ave., Massena, with third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and ticketed him for a stop sign violation at 7:25 p.m. Tuesday following a traffic stop on Parker Avenue.
SPEEDING - MASSENA - Village police ticketed Kayla N. Ashlaw, 21, of County Route 42, Fort Covington, for speed in zone at 10:16 a.m. Wednesday following a traffic stop on Route 37.
STOP SIGN - MASSENA - Village police ticketed Ashley N. Imbese, 27, of Palo Alto, Calif., for a stop sign violation at 5:19 p.m. Tuesday on Grove Street near Ridgewood Avenue.
SPEEDING - MASSENA - Village police ticketed Violet R. Thompson, 25, of Westbrook Hills, Syracuse, for speed in zone at 5:08 p.m. Tuesday following a traffic stop on state Route 37.
SPEEDING - MASSENA - Village police ticketed Corrin J. Fiene, 18, of state Route 11C, Brasher Falls, for speed in zone at 4:44 p.m. Tuesday following a traffic stop on state Route 37.
SUSPENDED REGISTRATION - MASSENA - Villae police ticketed Samantha L. Stiles, 19, of Paddock Street, Massena, for operation of a vehicle with a suspended registration at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday following a traffic stop on Center Street.
SPEEDING - POTSDAM - Village police ticketed Kaylee L. Hovey, 18, of Russell for speed in zone (52/30 mph zone) at 9:58 p.m. Tuesday following a traffic stop on Pierrepont Avenue.
INSUFFICIENT TAILI LIGHTS - POTSDAM - Village police ticketed Steven J. Stacey, 31, of Potsdam for operation of a vehicle with insufficient tail lamps at 10:05 p.m. Tuesday following a traffic stop on Market Street.
The Police Blotter
Tuesday. Jan. 27, 2015
0023 Traffic stop on Clarkson Avenue. Verbal warning issued.
0300 Traffic stop on Market Street. Verbal warning issued.
0446 Assisted a subject up off the floor on Racquette Road.
0959 Welfare check.
1131 Record check completed on two applicants for pistol permit investigations for another police agency.
1313 Patrol completed a traffic stop on Market Street. A verbal warning was issued.
1414 Issued a handicap parking permit.
1448 PVRS and patrol dispatched to Racquette Road.
1503 Patrol completed a traffic stop in Dunkin Donuts parking lot. A verbal warning was issued.
1602 Patrol completed fingerprints for a subject.
2029 Traffic stop on Sandstone Drive. Verbal warning issued.
2134 Traffic stop on Sandstone Drive. Verbal warning issued.
2154 Traffic stop on Maple Street. Verbal warning issued.
2225 Traffic stop on Maple Street. Verbal warning issued.
2244 Traffic stop on Market Street. Verbal warning issued.
2252 Traffic stop on Market Street. Verbal warning issued.
CANTON — The Stockholm man accused of killing Betty D. Babcock refused a plea deal of 25 years in state prison Tuesday in St. Lawrence County Court.
Robert A. Bartlett Jr., 43, of 733 May Road, is now facing life in prison if found guilty in a jury trial. The deal called for Bartlett to plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter and admit to killing Mrs. Babcock’s husband, Alvin S.
That plea would have satisfied pending indictments of one count of third-degree welfare fraud and three counts of offering a false instruments for filing.
Bartlett is accused of receiving food stamps and heating assistance from St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services from Nov. 21, 2012, to Feb. 28, 2013 totaling $3,258, while gaining access to Mr. Babcock’s Social Security checks and New York state retirement payments for his own use.
Bartlett was indicted Sept. 8 on a charge of second-degree murder, accused of killing Mrs. Babcock by asphyxiation in the spring of 2011. He is represented by attorney Gary W. Miles.
Bartlett admitted to authorities in March that he buried Mr. and Mrs. Babcock in his yard. The bodies were exhumed March 21 and 24 from the backyard of Mr. Bartlett’s May Road property and positively identified.
“I am not pleading guilty, your honor,” Bartlett told County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards. “I didn’t do it.”
Before Bartlett refused the plea deal, Judge Richards admonished the defendant for writing letters to the court, citing a six-page handwritten letter sent to the judge Jan. 12.
“Quite frankly, you need to stop. You’ve got to understand that people in the correctional facility will tell you anything. Don’t just put things down on paper that aren’t going to help but only make it worse,” the judge stated.
The judge said the court must hand over those letters to the district attorney’s office.
Bartlett was sent back to St. Lawrence County jail, Canton, on $10,000 cash bail.
OGDENSBURG — City Mayor William D. Nelson has decided this will be his last year in office.
Mr. Nelson, 55, was first sworn in as mayor of Ogdensburg in January 2000 at the age of 39. Prior to being elected mayor, he served six years as a city councilor and nearly three years as an appointed member of the city planning board.
“I guess you could say I’ve been Ogdensburg’s only mayor of the new millennium,” Mr. Nelson said Tuesday. “This is my sixteenth year as mayor. If you add my six years on the council, and my time on the planning board, I’ve been serving the citizens of Ogdensburg for 25 years.”
Mr. Nelson’s City Hall office reflects the decade-and-a-half he has spent occupying the municipality’s mayoral chair. There are framed historical photographs of Ogdensburg’s founding fathers hanging on the wall, including a print of the city’s first “common council” elected shortly after the former village of “Ogdensburgh” dropped the “h” from its name and was incorporated as a city in 1868. On his desk are two more recent pictures: one of his wife Darlene, and another of the Ogdensburg mayor taken a year-and-a-half ago with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Mr. Nelson, a Republican, points to the other Democratic and Republican memorabilia on display he has collected over the years, including photographs with former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former GOP Gov. George E. Pataki. He said the keepsakes are proof that he has tried his best to steer shy of partisan politics and to work closely with all facets of the political landscape during his four terms in office.
“They say that all politics is local, and I believe it is,” Mr. Nelson said. “I have never tried to bring politics into the city council chambers.”
The Ogdensburg mayor said his decision not to seek another term in November has been a difficult one, and that leaving the mayoral post will be “bittersweet.”
“On that last day, when I walk out the door and turn the key, I just want to look back and say ‘I did better, I left things better than when I first came in,’” Mr. Nelson said.
During his tenure, Mr. Nelson said, he has helped oversee the creation of 550 new jobs in the city, including the recruitment of 11 businesses investing more than $117 million in direct capital in the greater Ogdensburg area.
He said he has also helped the city move closer to realizing its long-term goal of revitalizing and redeveloping the municipality’s waterfront, including parcels at the former Diamond International and Shade Roller industrial sites.
“A focus has been to recapture and develop our waterfront, investing in city streets, keeping our streets safe, maintaining and bringing new jobs to the community, and maintaining a stable tax rate,” Mr. Nelson said.
He predicted that a continuing struggle the city will face in the years to come will be trying to grow the community’s tax base while also attempting to maintain services to residents. He said trying to offset the growing cost of health insurance and state retirement payments for the city’s approximately 145 municipal workers will also continue to be an uphill fight.
When he first took office in 2000, Mr. Nelson said retirement costs for city workers were approximately $40,000, while today that figure has ballooned to approximately $1.3 million annually.
Likewise, he said, the cost of health insurance continues to skyrocket.
Mr. Nelson said that in 2005 the cost of health insurance premiums for city employees was approximately $1.2 million, and for 2015 the city has budgeted roughly $2.9 million.
“That’s $1.7 million in ten years, that’s how much health insurance has grown,” Mr. Nelson said.
CANTON — Brenna J. Ryan, whose assignments included coverage of the town and village courts in Potsdam, has been terminated as a St. Lawrence County assistant district attorney.
Ms. Ryan confirmed the firing in an interview with The Times on Tuesday.
“I received no reason for being fired,” Ms. Ryan said.
She said District Attorney Mary Rain was not present when the termination took place, and that the move was handled by Chief Assistant District Attorney David A. Haggard.
Ms. Ryan said Mr. Haggard simply said, ‘we are letting you go.’”
In a reply to an email asking how Ms. Ryan’s firing will impact the workload on her office, Ms. Rain said “commenting on personnel issues is absolutely against the law.”
But in what appears to be a related move, Ms. Rain announced the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s office will receive a year-long grant that will be used to make a part-time assistant district attorney position full-time.
County legislators on Monday voted in favor of Ms. Rain’s plan to abolish a part-time position in her office and to accept the $35,600 state grant through the Violence Against Women Act. The announcement fell on the heels of Ms. Rain’s announcement to legislators that her office will be looking to fill a newly vacant position by the board’s Feb. 9 monthly meeting.
She did not identify the person leaving the office, but Ms. Ryan is no longer listed as a staff member on the D.A. office’s webpage.
“When the new legislators took office, the District Attorney’s office presented to them the continuing challenges we face,” Ms. Rain said in a news release Tuesday. “Last night’s unanimous bipartisan vote was the first step in addressing the staffing needs of the St. Lawrence District Attorney’s Office. We will continue to work with the board to creatively address our staffing challenges, while taking into consideration the fiscal restraints our county faces.”
Ms. Ryan said she had been preparing to prosecute the case of 32-year-old Jeremy Cyrus of 37 Grove St., North Lawrence. Mr. Cyrus had been indicted on 18 counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child, 18 counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child and two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He pleaded not guilty to those charges in August.
While executing a search warrant for an unrelated matter at his residence on Aug. 21, 2012, police said they found two Glock 9mm high-capacity magazines in Mr. Cyrus’s bedroom. Both were marked as being for law enforcement or government use only and loaded with hollow-point ammunition.
An indictment alleges Mr. Cyrus was in possession of videos and photographs of children, identified as being ages 3, 5 and 9, engaged in sexual activity.
The trial was scheduled to begin on Jan 27; however, on Jan. 21, Mr. Cyrus pleaded guilty to a reduced count of third-degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon, a class E violent felony, in a plea deal that satisfied the other charges against him. There is no sentencing commitment by County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards and exposes Mr. Cyrus to the possibility of up to four years in prison, one year in St. Lawrence County jail, or six months in county jail and five years of probation. Sentencing is scheduled for April 6.
Mr. Cyrus’s attorney Edward F. Narrow said the case was an old one, dating to Mr. Cyrus’s arrest on Aug. 12, 2012.
“Obviously we are happy to have the case resolved, especially when the defendant has a hand in determining the outcome of the case, other than having a decision forced upon you by a jury over whether you are guilty or innocent,” Mr. Narrow said. “There was a request for the conference with the judge and my client had nothing to lose, so we went in and the offer was made to the defendant that hadn’t previously been made, without explanation. We are not in a position to ask the district attorney’s office why they do what they do.”
“It (Mr. Cyrus’s case) was settled without me and five days later I was fired,” Ms. Ryan said. “I felt confident that I could have secured convictions on all 38 felonies.”