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Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Corfu trustees retroactively authorize hiring seven police officers after oversight discovered

post by Howard B. Owens in corfu, Ralph Peterson

Over the past several years, the Village of Corfu has hired police officers without the Board of Trustees ratifying the new hires.

The apparent oversight came up during a discussion Monday night of Mayor Ralph Peterson hiring two part-time police officers.

Peterson acknowledge that he hired the officers. He said the village department will need more manpower in July because Darien Lake has a packed concert schedule for the month.

Mark Boylan, attorney for the village, said that in the past week it's come to his attention the police officers hired in recent years were hired without being properly ratified by a vote of the trustees.

Those past hires without board approval do not justify new hires by Peterson without board authorization, Boylan said.

Trustees expressed concern that the two new officers were hired without interviews, filling out an application form or passing a background check.

Village resident Greg Lang said he saw the two new officers working on Sunday and Officer Gene Nati said he worked with one of the officers on Sunday.

Before the end of the meeting, the trustees agreed that seven officers had been hired without proper board authorization and passed a resolution authorizing all seven hires.

Peterson is expected to interview the two new officers and ask that the board ratify their employment at a future board meeting.

Trustee Art Ianni expressed frustration that Peterson hired two officers -- an expenditure of $5,000 or $6,000 -- without board discussion.

"Can't we have a little discussion here?" Ianni asked.

Peterson said the new hires were within budget.

Lang accused Peterson of trying ram through the hires and once again being "dictatorial."

"Don't say I've got to stop talking," Lang said. "I'm a taxpayer in this community. One of the highest taxpayers in this community and this is ridiculous. What's going on, Rosie? You keep just going and going and going. What's going to be the next meeting, Rosie? I can't stand it any more, sitting here looking at this. It's absolutely ridiculous."

The meeting started with an update on the joint Pembroke-Corfu sewer project.

Bids have been received from contractors and the cost of Corfu's part of the project will run $750,000 more than budgeted. 

Both Corfu and Pembroke have received Department of Environmental Conservation grants for the project -- for Corfu, grants to help pay for upgrades to the sewer treatment plant and for Pembroke grants to help pay for transmission lines.

The state favors the project moving forward as a joint facility because of the potential economic development in the area, which is why the Genesee County Economic Development Center is putting in more than $800,000 into the project.

Bids for Pembroke's share the project are approximately $750,000 less than budgeted, so if the DEC and Comptroller's Office will approve the transfer, some of Pembroke's grant money will go to Corfu, plus a portion of the money pledged by GCEDC will help offset the higher-than-anticipated bids.

As part of the deal, rate payers in Pembroke's sewer district will pay 3 percent less than the rate originally set. The decrease will mean that both Corfu and Pembroke rate payers will pay $6.24 per thousand gallons of sewage.

The issue of Peterson trying to get former Trustee Al Graham banned from the sewer treatment plant was also discussed.

Peterson said he had an agreement with the owner of Camden Group, Graham's employer and contractor that runs the sewer plant, that Graham be barred from the facility.

Trustees were unanimous in telling Peterson that they thought Graham should be allowed on the property and that his expertise would be necessary during the sewer project.

Peterson said it's always been his position that if Trustee David Bielec, who is the trustee in charge of overseeing the sewer project, wanted Graham involved, than Graham could have access to the sewer property.

Bielec said he did want Graham to participate.

The board also voted 3-0, with Peterson and Trustee Keith Busch abstaining, to authorize Boylan to take legal action to recover more than $10,000 in alleged missing funds from former village justice Robert Alexander.

Peterson tried to question whether it's been proven that the funds are missing. Boylan said the village has a Comptroller's audit showing the funds are missing. He said that by law, Alexander is obligated to pay the village back for the missing funds, regardless of how the funds went missing.

Busch said he abstained because he wasn't a trustee at the time the missing funds issue first surfaced.

Peterson wasn't going to vote at all on the motion -- until goaded by village residents in attendance to say what his vote was.

Top photo: Trustee Ianni with Peterson, while Ianni complains about the lack of discussion for hiring two new police officers.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 8:48 am

Man involved in scrap metal heist given 18 months in federal prison

post by Howard B. Owens in corfu, crime

One of four men caught in the act by Sheriff's deputies using a logging truck to steal scrap metal in 2009 in Corfu was sentenced in Federal Court yesterday.

Anthony Toscano, 48, who at the time of his arrested listed his address as 918 S. Goodman St., Rochester, will serve 18 months in federal prison for his part in the heist and pay $4,669.26 in restitution.

Toscano was convicted following a two-week jury trial of conspiracy to steal an interstate shipment and theft of an interstate shipment in September 2012.

Also convicted were Richard E. Riedman, 39, 542 Klem Road, Webster, Anthony J. Russell, 39, of 75 Snug Harbor Court, Rochester, and Timothy M. Stone, 23, 3735 Chili Ave., Rochester.

Riedman, Russell and Stone have not been sentenced.

Also arrested that night and convicted separately was Christopher H. Monfort, 41, of 113 Pine St., East Rochester.

All five men were observed by Sheriff's deputies using a logging truck to take processed and bailed scrap metal that was scheduled for shipment to a steel mill in Pennsylvania from Ed Arnold Scrap Processors. The deputies followed the truck into Batavia and stopped it in a well-lit area.

Riedman and Stone were indicted in April 2011 on federal racketeering charges for their part in an alleged plot to help 62-year-old James Henry McAuley Jr. (aka "Mitch"), an alleged Hell's Angel vice president, avoid apprehension for an alleged assault on a person viewed as a threat to the motorcycle club.

We have no information at this time on the status of that case.

Monday, June 24, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Corfu trustees and residents expected to have more issues to debate at tonight's meeting

post by Howard B. Owens in corfu

The Village of Corfu Trustees meet again tonight at 6:30 and sources say there will be much discussion of issues that have come up in the past few days related to Mayor Ralph Peterson.

Peterson's actions continue to draw criticism from fellow trustees and residents.

Items expected to be discussed tonight, according to sources:

  • Peterson may have hired two or three police officers without board approval;
  • Peterson reportedly continuing to try and block Al Graham, a supervisor with the company that runs the sewer plant, from being on sewer plant property.

Trustee Ken Lauer shared this e-mail he received from Peterson:

I had a conversation with the Camden Owner today. He informed (me that) you said I approved Al Graham to be on Village Property. I did no such thing! That was an outright lie! We never discussed this topic.

Maybe my typo was correct!

The last sentence refers to an e-mail Peterson allegedly sent to trustees spelling Lauer's last name as "Liar."

Lauer said he's concerned that Peterson is looking for ways to block a sewer project that could be critical to economic development in the Pembroke area.

Mark Boylan, attorney for the Village of Corfu, is expected to attend the meeting.

Friday, June 21, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Local students make the dean's list at SUNY Buffalo State

post by Billie Owens in batavia, corfu, Le Roy, Milestones

The following local students were named to the Spring 2013 dean's list at SUNY Buffalo State. To qualify for the dean's list, students must earn a GPA of 3.5 or higher and complete a minimum of 12 credit hours.

Peter Badami, of Batavia, is majoring in Business Administration.
Katelyn Brownell, of Batavia, is majoring in Communication Studies.
Lindsay Carney, of Batavia, is majoring in Earth Sciences.
David Dupre, of Corfu, is majoring in Computer Information Systems.
Olivia Gimlin, of Batavia, is majoring in Childhood Education.
Valerie Klug, of Corfu, is majoring in Business Administration.
Kyle Maurer, of Corfu, is majoring in Communication Design.
Joseph Miano, of Corfu, is majoring in Media Production.
Brittany Moose, of Le Roy, is majoring in Fashion and Textile Technology.
Dakota Nicholson, of Batavia, is majoring in Individualized Studies.
Stacy Squire, of Batavia, is majoring in Childhood Education.
Craig Tiberio-Shepherd, of Batavia, is majoring in Biology.
Dana Wolbert, of Corfu, is majoring in Childhood Education.

SUNY Buffalo State, founded in 1871, offers 165 undergraduate majors in the arts, sciences, professions, and education. More than 9,000 undergraduates have chosen Buffalo State for its academic programs, applied learning opportunities, and affordable tuition.

Monday, June 17, 2013 at 9:38 am

Corfu mayor announces he will now supervise village office and staff

post by Howard B. Owens in corfu

Mayor Ralph Peterson informed village trustees through an e-mail that beginning immediately he is assuming supervision of village staff and the office.

He removed Trustee Ken Lauer from the position.

Peterson said he was assuming the position of department head through the powers vested in him as mayor and Corfu's executive officer.

From his e-mail:

It is my intent to evaluate with whatever resources and evaluation tools necessary, the entire working process as well as reporting, accounting, record management, as well as security of the Office and records that are presently in place. After this evaluation I will institute whatever changes necessary to insure that the Village Office and the staff are functioning at the highest levels of professionalism, efficiency and accountability.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 3:32 pm

SUNY Geneseo announces Spring dean's list

post by Billie Owens in batavia, corfu, elba, Le Roy, Milestones, Oakfield, Pavilion

The State University of New York at Geneseo has announced its dean's list for the Spring semester 2013. To be on the list, a student must have achieved at least a 3.5 grade-point average while taking a minimum of 12 credit hours.

Students on the list from this area are:

Batavia

Trevor Day
Olivia Engel
Steven Fisher
Christine Lauricella
Christina Mortellaro
Grey Musilli

Corfu

Clarisse Birkby
Alaina Chapman

Elba

Mitchell Gillard

Le Roy

Kyle Snyder

Oakfield

Alyssa Cole

Pavilion

Kasey Cole
Nicole Embt


SUNY Geneseo is a public liberal arts college recognized nationally for excellence in undergraduate education and for its professional and master's level programs. The college combines a rigorous curriculum and a rich co-curricular life to create a learning-centered environment.

Monday, June 10, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Corfu trustees, Mayor Peterson clash over file cabinet keys, mayor's personal office

post by Howard B. Owens in corfu, Ralph Peterson

Once again, Corfu trustees and Ralph Peterson are at odds over the conduct of the first-term mayor.

This time, residents and trustees raised concerns about Peterson obtaining keys to all of the filing cabinets and demanding an office in the village facility.

In non-binding motions passed 3-0 each, the trustees expressed displeasure with both actions.

When asked by Trustee Ken Lauer if he would surrender keys to the file cabinets, Peterson shook his head no. When the motion was made opposing setting up an office for the mayor -- workers have already started moving filing cabinets -- Peterson shook his head no.

He made no apparent vote on either motion.

Lauer, Keith Busch and Dave Bielec voted yes. Art Ianni was absent.

Since taking office, Peterson has been accused of firing village staff, lying, banning the employee of the sewer contractor from the sewer plant, and demanding employee passwords for computers.

The password incident garnered a warning from Donald O'Geen, a special district attorney handling the investigation into missing court money, for Peterson not to tamper with evidence.

Village officials are concerned that Peterson's acquisition of file cabinet keys and the desire to have an office in the building are further attempts to interfere with the investigation.

Former Village Justice Robert Alexander and his daughter, Brandi Watts, are the possible targets of the investigation following a comptroller's audit that found the court was allegedly missing at least $10,000.

O'Geen has been appointed special district attorney to help avoid any potential conflicts of interest that may exist with the Genesee County District Attorney's Office.

Debbie Graham, a longtime village employee, and wife of former trustee Al Graham (the sewer employee Peterson allegedly tried to have banned), raised the issue of the file cabinet keys during the public comment portion of the meeting.

She questioned why Peterson needed the keys.

"I have the authority to have the keys," he said.

Debbie Graham said that for keeping records properly secured and to avoid any accusations of missing records leveled against Peterson, Peterson shouldn't have a key. Lauer, Busch and Bielec all said they agreed.

"To be honest with you, Rosie, I don't trust you," Debbie Graham said.

"We all have people we don't trust," Peterson said.

Asked about establishing his own office in the building, Peterson said, "I have the authority and I'm going to exercise my authority."

Resident Greg Lang told Peterson that it appears he's trying to establish a dictatorship.

"You're doing whatever you want and nobody has enough guts to stop you," Lang said. "We used to be friends. You were a decent guy before you got that power. It went right to your head."

After the meeting, Al Graham asked a gentleman in the third row of the audience who he was. He identified himself as the attorney for the Village of Oakfield. He said he had been asked by Peterson to come to the meeting by Peterson to observe it.

The attorney is Reid Whiting, a Le Roy resident.

Peterson has previously tried to replace village attorney Mark Boylan. Whiting didn't reveal if he was there as a possible Peterson nominee for attorney or to assist Peterson with his situation in Corfu.

Al Graham asked Whiting what he thought of the meeting, and Whiting said it was "hostile."

Photo: Lauer, left, and Peterson.

Monday, June 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Corfu student initiated into prestigious honor society Phi Kappa Phi

post by Billie Owens in corfu, Milestones

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi announced earlier this year that Benjamin Keipper, of Corfu, was recently initiated into the Phi Kappa Phi Chapter at Nazareth College. Keipper is among approximately 30,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni to be initiated into Phi Kappa Phi each year.

Founded in 1897 at the University of Maine, Phi Kappa Phi is the nation's oldest, largest and most selective all-discipline honor society. The Society has chapters on nearly 300 campuses in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

Membership in Phi Kappa Phi is by invitation and requires nomination and approval by a chapter. Only the top 10 percent of seniors and 7.5 percent of juniors, having at least 72 semester hours, are eligible for membership. Graduate students in the top 10 percent of the number of candidates for graduate degrees may also qualify, as do faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction.

Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Baton Rouge, La., Phi Kappa Phi is the nation's oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines.

Monday, June 10, 2013 at 9:13 am

Law and Order: Reader tips lead to arrest of alleged 400 Towers bike thief

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Alabama, corfu, crime, Le Roy, pembroke

Joey A. Evans, 22, of 202 State St., Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Evans allegedly admitted to a theft of a bicycle from 400 Towers following several anonymous tips to police from readers of The Batavian.

Darrell Smith, 46, of 26 Queens Drive, West Seneca, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing/blood circulation. Smith is accused of grabbing a woman he knew by the throat.

Bill A. Thomas, 53, of 252 State St., Batavia, is charged with disorderly conduct (creating a hazardous or offensive condition), disorderly conduct (obscene language/gestures) and open container. Thomas was arrested at 140 W. Main St., Batavia, for an alleged incident reported at 6:15 p.m., June 3, at 15 Main St., Batavia. No further details were released.

Danny J. Torok Jr., 26, of 3177 Dodgeson Road, Alexander, is charged with burglary, 1st (use or threat of use of a dangerous instrument), criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd, unlawful imprisonment, 1st, criminal contempt, 1st (violating an order of protection while using a weapon), and menacing, 2nd. Torok was taken into custody by Batavia PD on an arrest warrant. The alleged incident was reported at 1:30 a.m., May 16. He was jailed without bail. No further details were released.

Cherkiga Starks, 36, of 335 Bank St., Apt. A7, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. The alleged incident occurred at 11:57 p.m., May 31. No further details were released.

Steven E. Wells, 51, of Macomber Road, Oakfield, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08, aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st, operating without an interlock ignition device, and driver's view obstructed. Mary E. Wells, 51, of Macomber Road, Oakfield, is charged with facilitating aggravated unlicensed operation, David Daniels, 56, of Macomber Road, Oakfield, is charged with consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Steven Wells was stopped at 2:11 p.m., Sunday, on Slusser Road, Pembroke, by Deputy Chris Parker for allegedly driving with driver's view obstructed. Upon investigation, he was found to be allegedly driving drunk. Mary Wells is reportedly the registered owner of the vehicle and is accused of knowing Steven Wells did not have a valid driver's license. David Daniels was a passenger in the vehicle and was allegedly consuming alcohol while in the back seat.

Jason Leo Antos, 21, of Independence Avenue, Niagara Falls, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd, and unlawful dealing with a child. Antos is accused of unlawfully entering the campgrounds at Darien Lake Theme Park and supplying alcohol to a minor.

Joshua M. Gaudioso, 24, of Lake Street, Le Roy, is charged with possession and transportation of more than 400 untaxed citgarettes. Gaudioso was stopped for an alleged traffic violation at 5:43 p.m., Saturday, on West Main Street, Le Roy, by Deputy Patrick Reeves. During the stop, Gaudioso was allegedly found in possession of more than 400 untaxed cigarettes and operating on a suspended registration.

Heather Jo Lehman, 20, of Oliver Street, North Tonawanda, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd, and unlawful possession of alcohol under age 21. Lehman was allegedly on Darien Lake Theme Park campgrounds property unlawfully and in possession of alcohol at 3:19 a.m., Sunday.

Jeffrey Scott Canale, 43, of Orchard Drive, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to reduce speed on curve, leaving the scene of a property damage accident and failure to keep right. Canale was allegedly driving a 1999 BMW on Oatka Trail, Le Roy, at 2:13 a.m., when he was involved in a single-car accident.

Elizabeth Anne Weiner, 22, of Conkey Avenue, Rochester, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and unlawful possession of marijuana. Weiner was a passenger in a vehicle stopped for an alleged traffic infraction June 2 by Deputy Patrick Reeves. She was allegedly found in possession of Ecstasy (MDMA) and marijuana.

Clifford Leo Regimbal, 34, of Granite Street, Webster, Mass., was arrested on bench warrants for alleged criminal possession of marijuana and unlawful growing of cannabis. Regimbal is being held on an unrelated matter after being returned to New York from Massachusetts, and was arrested on warrants out of Town of Alabama Court. He was also arrested on warrants out of Village of Corfu Court for alleged criminal use of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance, 7th.

Joel David Prouty, 27, of Fisher Road, Oakfield, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st. Prouty is accused of stalking and harassing a protected person in violation of a court order issued by Judge Robert C. Noonan.

Jesse S. Repass, 26, of Oakfield, is charged with petit larceny. Repass is accused of stealing from a location on Lewiston Road, Batavia, and was arrested by a state trooper.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 9:08 am

Corfu trustees favor resident-led committee to review police service and take up other matters at meeting

post by Howard B. Owens in corfu

Summary of the Village of Corfu's trustee meeting Wednesday evening. Information provided by Trustee Ken Lauer.

  • Mayor Ralph Peterson asked that a committee formed to study the options for police service in the village be disbanded. The trustees agreed to create a committee headed by a village resident with Trustee Art Ianni acting as a liaison between the committee and the trustees to study options for police service. Letters will be included in the upcoming tax bills seeking residents who wish to serve on the committee.
  • Without a police administrator, Peterson continues to serve as supervisor of the police department. The trustees agreed that all officers -- all of whom are part time -- will be limited to no more than 19.5 hours of work per week. The village is facing a possible lawsuit because of allegations that officers hired competitively weren't getting work hours and non-competitive hires were working more than 19.5 hours, which is an alleged violation of civil service law. The 19.5-hour rule will apply to all officers, competitive and non-competitive hires. There are 10 part-time officers in the department.
  • Peterson nominated local attorney Fred Rarick to the position of acting village justice. State law requires the position. The acting justice is the back-up for the full-time justice. With trustees Keith Busch and David Bielec absent, the motion to appoint Rarick failed 2-1 (three votes needed for any motion to pass). Laurer said he voted against Rarick because Rarick never formally applied for the position. Meanwhile, the two applications the village did receive were never passed along to Justice David O'Connor for his review.
  • Former Justice Robert Alexander sent a FOIL request to the village for documents pertaining to the trustees demand that Alexander repay $10,000 in allegedly missing court funds. Alexander is facing possible legal action by the village to recover the funds. Laurer said that Village Attorney Mark Boylan told him that Alexander never signed for the registered letter demanding payment, but that in his FOIL request, Alexander acknowledged seeing the demand for payment in an article on The Batavian.
  • Also read into the record was a Dec. 14 letter from the district director of the Unified Court System. The letter deals primarily with the dispute between Alexander and the trustees over the continued employment and supervision of the court clerk, Pam Yasses. Yasses had previously filed a harassment complaint against Alexander. While the letter states that the clerk is an employee of the village and the harassment complaint should be investigated, the trustees should not interfere with the judicial operations of the court. Alexander's term expired in March. The letter concludes that the trustees should take all appropriate measures to resolve the issue of the missing funds.
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