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Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 7:22 am

Two school districts announce closures this morning

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, Oakfield, Pavilion, schools, weather

Oakfield-Alabama schools are closed this morning, due to weather.

Pavilion school is closed, due to plumbing issues.

Pavilion students scheduled to take a regents exam at Pavilion High School are to report to the elementary building at their scheduled test time.

The National Weather Service has a wind chill advisory in effect until 10 a.m. with wind chills expected to be 15 to 25 degrees below zero.

Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Convicted child abuser will get new attorney for second trial

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, crime
Earl Sprague

Earl Sprague, sentenced yesterday to 21 years in prison for child sexual abuse, will have a new attorney when he goes on trial -- possibly in March -- on a separate set of charges, including predatory sexual assault.

During an appearance today to set a trial date on the eight counts still pending against Sprague, attorney Fred Rarick told Judge Robert C. Noonan that it was apparent to him that Sprague no longer had confidence in him and that a new attorney should be appointed to represent the 42-year-old Alabama resident.

Noonan expressed some skepticism that Sprague really needed a new attorney, praising Rarick's ability as a criminal defense attorney.

"Mr. Rarick is one of the most experience criminal defense attorneys we have around here in handling very serious matters such as yours," Noonan told Sprague. "He worked very hard on this case. If there was a difference over strategy, that's not unusual."

Sprague told Noonan that he felt there was evidence that Rarick didn't bring out at trial that he thought should have been presented to the jury.

"I won't get into specifics, but there was a point in the trial where he said if we do this, they're (motioning toward the prosecution) is going to try and do something else," Sprague said. "We talked about it. I thought about it and then I said go ahead and he didn't go ahead and do it. None of it was brought up."

Noonan expressed concern that a change in attorney could delay the second trial, but after a little more conversation with Sprague and Rarick agreed to refer the case to the Public Defender's Office.

Sprague faces a trial on eight felony counts, including two counts of burglary, 1st, sexual abuse, 1st, criminal sexual act, 1st, aggravated sexual abuse, 1st, two counts predatory sexual assault, a Class II-A felony, and one count of assault, 1st.

Noonan set a trial date of March 24.

Sprague be back in court Jan. 30 to ensure a new attorney has been appointed and is working on the case and can be ready for trial on that date.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Noonan gives maximum available sentence to Alabama man convicted of child sexual abuse

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, crime
Earl Sprague

Convicted by a jury on 28 counts of sexual abuse, Earl Sprague will soon begin a 21-year prison term while still maintaining his innocence.

The 42-year-old Alabama resident was sentenced in Genesee County Court today by Judge Robert C. Noonan.

"It's a very sad circumstance, but the saddest part is that two kids have been victimized repeatedly over an extended period of time," Noonan said. "I do believe a serious sentence should be imposed over a lengthy period of time."

On the first three counts of sexual abuse the jury said Sprague did commit, Noonan gave Sprague seven years on each count to be served concurrently. On counts four through 17, again, seven years each, served concurrently, but consecutive to the first seven years. On counts 18 through 28, seven years each, running concurrent to each other, but consecutive to the first two groups of counts.

The three groups of seven-year sentences, served consecutively means Sprague will be locked up for 21 years, barring any time off for good behavior.

The sentence was the maximum available to Noonan under state sentencing guidelines.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman told Noonan he would recommend Sprague spend the rest of his life in prison, if only that were an option for Noonan.

"It would be appropriate to send him to prison for the rest of his life, but that can't be done," Friedman said. "We will once again have to worry about what this defendant is going to do once he's out of prison. I would ask that you do everything in your statutory power to keep this defendant locked up for as long as possible as required by law."

Sprague will be on parole for 10 years following his release from prison.

Defense attorney Fred Rarick told Judge Noonan that his client had been prepared to make a statement in court, but after Noonan ruled that a television camera could record the proceedings, Rarick said his client informed him he would not make a statement.

"He can choose to make a statement or not make a statement," Noonan said. "This is a public courtroom and the presence of a camera only enhances the public nature of it to some extent. It's his choice."

Sprague made no statement.

The two young victims he was convicted of molesting had originally requested to appear at the sentencing and make victim impact statements, but neither appeared today. Instead, Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini read statements from both victims.

Rarick filed a notice of appeal and explained after court that he did so primarily to preserve his client's right to appeal his conviction. Rarick said it will be up to an attorney who specializes in appeals to review the transcript of the case and determine what if any issues might be proper for appeal to a higher court.

There could be an issue, Rarick said, with Noonan allowing the jury to hear evidence of Sprague's prior bad acts, including prior accusations of children molestation going back 30 years.

"My client respectfully disagrees with his ruling," Rarick said. "We thought he shouldn't let any priors in because it would take the jury's mind off what the real issues are."

From Rarick's point of view, those issues include an estranged wife who had motivation to keep Sprague from gaining custody of their children after she was accused of burglary and theft. According to Rarick, Penny Sprague made statements prior to Earl Sprague's arrest that she knew how a woman could get a man in trouble and that children could be convinced to make accusatory statements.

Rarick said there were never any accusations or concerns raised about Earl Sprague molesting these particular children until Penny Sprague became a suspect in a burglary.

Sprague will be back in court tomorrow because he still faces eight felony counts from another grand jury indictment, including two counts of burglary, 1st, sexual abuse, 1st, criminal sexual act, 1st, aggravated sexual abuse, 1st, two counts predatory sexual assault, a Class II-A felony, and one count of assault, 1st.

Monday, January 20, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Law and Order: Le Roy man accused of stealing co-pays at doctor's office

post by Howard B. Owens in Basom, batavia, Alabama, bergen, byron, corfu, crime, Darien, Le Roy, Oakfield

James Mitchell, 35, of Le Roy, is charged with petit larceny. Mitchell was arrested following a months-long investigation by the Livingston County Sheriff's Office into reports of stolen co-payments at a doctor's office where Mitchell worked in Avon. The investigation took time, according to LCSO, because of lengthy billing cycles and victims coming forward. Mitchell was allegedly stealing co-pays as patients checked out at their physician's office. The investigation was conducted by Deputy Dan Rittenhouse, Deputy Ross Gerace, Deputy Steph Schroeder and Deputy Mike Yencer.

Kelly M. Zwolinski, 34, of Broadway Road, Darien, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property, 4th, and resisting arrest. Zwolinski was identified as a suspect in possession of a stolen horse saddle that was taken from a farm in Niagara County and an arrest warrant was issued. When Deputy Kevin McCarthy and Investigator William Ferrando attempted to place Zwolinski under arrest, she allegedly resisted arrest.

Darlene Ann Kingdollar, 51, of South Pearl Street, Oakfield, is charged with petit larceny. Kingdollar is accused of entering the 7-Eleven store in Oakfield while intoxicated and after she was denied the purchase of alcohol, she allegedly left the store with a can of beer without paying for it.

Bruce J. Brade, 33, of Galloway Road, Batavia, is charged with stalking, 4th, and criminal contempt, 2nd. Brade allegedly violated an order of protection.

Mark J. Price, 37, Township Road, Ashland, Ohio, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear for an alleged traffic violation in Batavia City Court. Price was aprehended during a traffic stop in the Village of Attica. Price was issued an appearance ticket.

Jeffrey A. Pionessa, 32, of Glenwood Drive, Attica, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and speeding in zone. Pionessa was stopped at 2:30 a.m. Sunday on Law Street, Batavia, by Officer Arick Perkins. Pionessa allegedly had a BAC of .11.

A 17-year-old resident of Trumbull Parkway, Batavia is charged with criminal mischief, 4th, and harassment, 2nd. The youth is accused of damaging the mobile phone charger of another person by throwing it against a wall and grabbing the arm of the alleged victim and pushing the person's face.

John K. Rolls, 34, of Mill Street, Batavia, is charged with two counts of forcible touching. Rolls is accused of forcibly touching a 17-year-old girl on Jan. 7. Rolls is incarcerated in the Genesee county Jail on an unrelated matter and was issued an appearance ticket.

Brad Strzelecki, 19, of Hunter Street, Bergen, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Strzelecki was reported at a location on Bank Street at 10:01 a.m. Jan. 13 when he was allegedly found in possession of marijuana by Officer Eric Foels.

Rodeny Lowell McKenzie, 49, of Weaver Street, Buffalo, is charged with petit larceny. McKenzie was located by Transit Police in Buffalo during a check-the-welfare interview and identified as a warrant suspect for allegedly stealing items from Kmart on Dec. 12.

Bryant William Hardtner, 28, of State Street Road, Batavia, is charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Hardtner is accused of taking a vehicle Sunday without the owner's consent.

Kimberly Diane Ribbeck, 27, of Genesee Street, Corfu, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, driving a vehicle with obstructed vision and no or inadequate plate light. Ribbeck was stopped at 2:33 a.m. Sunday on Route 77, Pembroke, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Michael Gerald Pernicano, 21, of Lake Road, Holley, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to signal and no plate light. Pernicano was stopped at 2:29 a.m. Saturday on North Byron Road, Byron, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Lena Marie Evans, 26, of Ross Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny, two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and possession of a hypodermic instrument. Evans was arrested for allegedly shoplifting at Kmart by Deputy Andrew Hale.

Carey Anthony Bedell III, 18, of Lehigh Avenue, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Bedell was arrested on Clinton Street Road, Byron, at 9:43 p.m. Friday.

Matthew R. Smith, 21, of Basom, is charged with forcible touching. Smith was arrested by State Police for an alleged incident reported at noon Thursday.

Mark A. Allison, 52, of Lockport, is charged with felony DWI and felony driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Allison was arrested by State Police following the report at 9:29 p.m. Thursday of a two-car accident at 372 Bloomingdale Road, Basom. One person was injured. The driver of the other vehicle was Alexander Shirira, 56, of Buffalo. No other details released.

Friday, January 17, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Accident reported on Bloomingdale Road, Alabama

post by Billie Owens in accident, Alabama

A motor-vehicle accident is reported at 373 Bloomingdale Road, Alabama. Mercy Flight is called to respond and a landing zone will be set up at the parking lot of the Tonawanda Community Building. Alabama Fire Department is on scene along with Mercy medics and State Troopers.

UPDATE 9:51 p.m.: This accident also involves a 16-year-old male who was riding a bicycle. He is said to be disoriented and unaware of what took place.

UPDATE 9:54 p.m.: Mercy Flight #5 has landed.

UPDATE 10:03 p.m.: Mercy Flight is airborne and headed to Erie County Medical Center.

UPDATE 10:21 p.m.: Alabama fire is back in service.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 7:24 am

Law and Order: Woman who allegedly used stolen gift card to purchase cake at Walmart arrested

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Alabama, crime, Darien, Stafford

Angela Irene, 44, of South Grand Road, Medina, is charged with grand larceny, 4th. Irene was arrested as a result of reports on The Batavian and OrleansHub of a purse being stolen from a shopping cart in the parking lot of the Batavia Walmart and a gift card subsequently being used to purchase a cake at the Walmart in Albion. As a result of the publication of the surveillance photo from the Albion Walmart, the suspect turned herself in to local law enforcement. The Sheriff's Office also received numerous phone calls identifying the suspect. The case was handled by Investigator Kristopher Kautz and Deputy James Diehl.

Jillian E. Dibble, of Akron, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Dibble was stopped at 7:50 a.m. Sunday on Route 77 at Reynolds Road, Darien, by State Police.

Alexander E. Dills, 23, of Stafford, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, possession of a hypodermic instrument, unlawful possession of marijuana, criminal possession of a weapon, 4th, and aggravated unlicensed operation. Dills was arrested by State Police at 8:55 a.m. Saturday. No further details released.

Darrnell J. Barnes, 51, of Alabama, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Barnes was stopped at 7:42 p.m. Saturday on Alleghany Road in Alabama by State Police.

Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm

House fire on East Shelby Road, Oakfield

post by Billie Owens in batavia, Alabama, elba, fire, Oakfield

A house fire is reported at 2884 E. Shelby Road, between Burns and Crane roads. Fire is "in the wall with flames seen." Oakfield Fire Department is responding, along with mutual aid from Alabama, Town of Batavia and Elba.

UPDATE 2:17 p.m.: Upon arriving, the fire chief reports no fire seen.

UPDATE 2:21 p.m.: The chief is holding everything to equipment already in route. Cancelling Town of Batavia.

UPDATE 2:29 p.m.: Alabama and Elba units returning, in service.

Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Investigators find car involved in fatal accident on Ledge Road in August was mechanically sound

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, Alabama

Investigators found no mechanical issues with a car that crashed on Ledge Road, Alabama, in August, and split in two after striking a utility pole.

The accident claimed the the life of a 10-year-old Batavia boy.

The findings are part of a final accident report filed in October and obtained today by The Batavian through a Freedom of Information Law request.

The driver, the boy's father, Shawn P. Wolcott, told investigators the day of the accident that he had taken the car into mechanics several times because of issues with the steering and that prior to the accident he felt the car wobble and heard a pop or a knock.

Deputy Nathan Balduf, certified by the state for post-accident mechanical inspections, thoroughly examined Wolcott's 2004 Chrysler 300 and found no mechanical deficiencies that would have contributed to the accident.

Sgt. Bill Scott, a lead investigator for the Crash Management Team, concluded in his report that all the evidence pointed to the sedan drifting off the road either because Wolcott fell asleep, became unconscious or was otherwise distracted.

The Chrysler's front passenger fender struck a utility pole on Ledge Road. "After initial contact," according to the report, "the vehicle rotated counter-clockwise causing the vehicle to split in half."

Wolcott, who was uninjured in the crash, exited the front half of the vehicle as soon as it came to rest, according to witnesses, and pulled his son, Shawn Jr., from the back passenger seat.

One person reported seeing somebody performing CPR on the child.

Shawn Jr., was flown by Mercy Flight to Mothers and Childrens Hospital in Buffalo. He died five days later.

Wolcott told investigators he was driving to the reservation to buy a carton of cigarettes.

The accident was reported at 8:18 a.m.

Two people -- including his estranged wife and a person on probation with multiple arrests -- reported to authorities that Wolcott had been partying the night before and consumed drugs and alcohol. Wolcott denied the accusation to investigators.

Deputy Lonnie Nati, a certified drug-use recognition expert, was the first deputy on scene and did not detect the odor of alcohol on Wolcott and observed nothing to indicate Wolcott had consumed any drugs.

Investigators were also told that Wolcott was transporting two bags of marijuana in the trunk of his car, but a thorough search of the vehicle turned up no cannabis, though baggies were found that may have contained marijuana (based on odor) at one time.

Wolcott did have a prescription for hydrocodone for carpal tunnel pain in his wrists and he told investigators he had taken a pill the morning of the accident, but he'd been taking the prescription for years without incident.

According to the report, within the three years prior to the accident, Wolcott had taken the car in for service or repairs at multiple local garages, including Monroe Muffler, Midas, Dunn Tire, Castilone Chrysler, Chesley Automotive and Zirbel Automotive.

One person at an automotive shop told an investigator that Wolcott treated the car "like it's his only possession."

Wolcott told an investigator that a mechanic at Castilone, where the car was taken in April, said that the balance was missing from the rack and pinion and that the rack and pinion would need to be replaced.

The repair, he said, would cost $1,200, which he couldn't afford.

Repair receipts obtained by investigators from Castilone mention nothing about any problem with the rack and pinion, though notes indicate that Wolcott did complain about the handling and steering of the car. Wolcott reportedly told a mechanic that the "left front wheel feels like it's going to fall off."

The right front caliper, front rotors and pads were replaced during that visit.

In March, 2010, Wolcott had the front sway bar links replaced at Chesley's.

The struts were replaced by Monroe in late August, 2010. Monroe did alignments on the car in early August, 2010, late August, 2010 and September, 2010. Chesley's did a wheel balance in October of that year.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014 at 10:25 am

Possible chimney fire on Fisher Road, Oakfield

post by Billie Owens in Alabama, east pembroke, elba, fire, Oakfield

A possible chimney fire is reported at 6842 Fisher Road, Oakfield. Flames were seen shooting from the chimney, but no flames or smoke are showing now, says a firefighter. The residence has been evacuated. Oakfield fire is on scene. Mutual aid response was cancelled but units are asked to stand by in their quarters from Alabama, Elba and East Pembroke.

UPDATE 10:41 a.m.: Oakfield fire back in service.

Monday, December 30, 2013 at 7:47 am

Car hits Arrowhawk Smokeshop

post by Howard B. Owens in Basom, accident, Alabama

A car has hit a building at 852 Bloomingdale Road, Basom, the Arrowhawk Smokeshop, and a person is reportedly unconscious.

Alabama fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 8:40 a.m.: Alabama back in service.

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