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Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Prosecutor: Guilty plea by former clerk should end 'period of unrest' in Corfu

post by Howard B. Owens in corfu, crime
Brandi Watts

The way special prosecutor Donald O'Geen sees it, today should mark a new beginning for the residents of Corfu.

Brandi Watts, the former court clerk at the center of a 20-month-long controversy over missing court funds that has spilled into village politics, issued a check to the village today for $10,128.

She also entered a guilty plea in County Court to one count of tampering with government records, a Class D felony.

If Watts obeys court orders and stays out of trouble for the next 12 months, she can avoid any jail time. She would also be given a chance at a conditional discharge of all 61 counts against her. If she violates her interim probation, she could be facing up to seven years in prison.

The full payment of restitution was "absolutely non-negotiable," O'Geen said. "That was a big component of the plea arrangement."

The guilty plea and restitution puts the cap on a case that O'Geen said dragged on too long because the slow pace of the state's Judicial Conduct Commission.

The commission was called upon more than 18 months ago to review the case of missing funds in the village court following a comptroller's audit that found books had been cooked and money had disappeared.

Watts was the clerk at the time and her father, Robert Alexander, was the village justice.

O'Geen has heard, but hasn't seen (nor is it listed on the commission's Web site) that the commission finally issued a report on its finding within the past few days.

The slow pace of the commission delayed the investigation by O'Geen and state police, which delayed prosecution of Watts.

O'Geen, who is the district attorney in Wyoming County, was appointed special prosecutor because local prosecutors have handled cases -- and were handling cases at the time the investigation started -- in Alexander's courtrooms (he was also a justice in the Town of Pembroke). He did not seek reelection in Corfu last year.

Alexander, who is charged with two counts of coercion and one count of official miscondut, did not appear in court today. He's scheduled to appear Nov. 18. He did officially resign today from the Town of Pembroke justice position, after previously having his cases reassigned and being suspended by the state.

"To me, here's the guy who kind of ran the show, so to be forced out (of office) before he wanted to be is a big deal from a public perception standpoint," O'Geen said. 

Asked if the $10,128 in restitution covers the full amount of money Watts stole, O'Geen indicted it's as close as the government will ever get to the correct amount, if the actual amount stolen is different at all.

"There are records that indicate there could be more money missing, or there could be documents filed just to make it look like there was money collected but there is no money taken," O'Geen said. "The amount we settled on was what the comptroller came up with because that's what we knew we could prove. To be honest, we don't think there's much more missing."

After the comptroller's report about the missing funds was released in January 2012 and what followed was endless turmoil in the village, with then-trustee Ralph Peterson seemingly running interference with the board of trustees on behalf of his friend Robert Alexander.

After a new court clerk was appointed, Alexander asked her to audit the court's books, and when the clerk, Pam Yasses, said she found the same irregularities, Alexander allegedly harassed her (which is at least part of the reason he faces the criminal charges he does).

Peterson was elected mayor and throughout the first half of 2013, he's been accused by his fellow trustees of an endless string of problems for village employees, other trustees and former trustees.

The situation in Corfu has taken on a reputation throughout Genesee County as a soap opera. Readers have recently contacted The Batavian wanting to know when the next installment is going to run.

Two months ago, Peterson took medical leave, reportedly because of stress. He's scheduled to return to his mayoral duties Jan. 2, and since then, there've been no new controversies coming out of Corfu.

O'Geen said there's no reason now for the issue of missing court funds to hang over the village and interfere with village business.

"I think what this does for the people in the Village of Corfu is it puts behind them a period of unrest in the sense this whole thing, as of today, is over," O'Geen said. "This is the first day of the people of Corfu getting their village back and getting back to normal. It's the first day employees do not have to worry about retribution and can move on and get back to doing what they do best, which is provide services for the people of the Village of Corfu.

"If anything, this is kind of a lesson in civics, that people should be more involved, more aware of what's going on, that every vote counts, all of those cliches," O'Geen added. "I wish the Village of Corfu all the best and hope they move forward."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 11:24 am

Corfu residents and planning board members mull the future of the village

post by Howard B. Owens in corfu

What should Corfu become? That was the question hanging over a village planning board meeting Tuesday evening when an agenda item about rezoning evolved into a discussion about how to boost business and get more people to visit.

The conversation was partly spurred by resident Tsabelle Cyra raising concerns about Dollar General looking for a store location in the village.

"It's ugly," Cyra said. "Did you see the facade of this place. It's not only ugly outside, it's ugly inside. It would do nothing for the esthetics of this village. On weekends, it's just packed with kids and indigent people. Is that what we want image-wise for Corfu?"

Trustee Art Ianni quickly turned the discussion to what it would take to get people to stop in Corfu.

He said one problem in Corfu is the village itself is ugly.

"I'm going to raise my hand and say it's ugly," Ianni said. "Yes, it's ugly."

He had a copy of a 2007 study that offered suggestions for improving the esthetics of Corfu, such as applying design standards, putting in sidewalks, street lighting, landscaping and attractive crosswalks, among other things.

"These are the recommendations of 2007 and nobody's moved on it," Ianni said. "Nobody's touched it and some of it is simple."

Several residents and board members agreed that what Corfu needs is a small grocery store.

"Right now, you have to go 26 miles round trip to get groceries," Dave Stehlar said.

Stehlar thinks a five-acre parcel on the east side of the village would be a good location for a new grocery store and bring people into the village and down Main Street.

The problem is, the owner wants top dollar and won't sell the property in divided parcels.

Cyra said when she worked in one of the state prisons years ago, all of the employees would drive out of their way to come to Corfu because they could get great meat at the grocery store. That kind of quality grocery store is needed again, she said.

The other problem, David Saleh said, based on his discussions with previous grocery store owners, is that the stores always did great in the summer, but business would come to a crawl in the winter. That makes it very hard to stay profitable, Saleh said.

Stehlar pointed out that there are about 10,000 people living in a 10-square mile area around Corfu. Those are a lot of potential customers for Corfu businesses if more of them could be enticed into the village.

One of the problems Corfu faces, Cyra noted, is the perception that it's a speed trap, so people avoid the village.

"Would you go on the record with that?" Ianni asked.

Ianni also raised the idea of exploring historical designation opportunities and maybe the village should bring in somebody to talk with them about that process.

Stehlar pointed out that the now vacant Union Hotel has a lot of redevelopment potential.

Ianni mentioned an article he'd seen about all the success with old building redevelopment in Perry, so maybe Rick Hauser should be asked to share his knowledge on the subject.

Whatever the village residents want to do, Saleh noted, it's going to take more support than the handful of people at Tuesday's planning board meeting.

"All of these things take a commitment of time and effort," Saleh said.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Man gets arm caught in machinery at scrap yard in Corfu

post by Billie Owens in corfu

A man caught his arm in a piece of machinery at Ed Arnold Scrap Processors, located at 2216 Angling Road in Corfu. Employees were able to carry the victim to the front of the facility for medical aid. East Pembroke Fire Department, Mercy medics are responding and law enforcement is on scene. The availability of Mercy Flight is checked.

UPDATE 12:16 p.m.: Mercy Flight in Batavia is unavailable because it is on a call and has another one pending. Mercy Flight Central is deemed too far away. "We'll handle it from here," says a responder at the scene.

UPDATE 12:28 p.m.: The victim is being transported via ambulance to Erie County Medical Center. The East Pembroke assignment is back in service.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 9:33 am

Grand Jury Report: Alleged 7-11 robber accused of Class C violent felony

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, corfu, crime

Michael C. Kraatz is indicted on a count of robbery, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, and grand larcney, 2nd, a Class C felony. Kraatz is accused of robbing the 7-Eleven store at 505 E. Main St., Batavia, on Oct. 6, and in the process injuring another person who was not a participant in the crime. Kraatz is accused of stealing cash from the store, regardless of value, by extortion of the victim.

Jon T. Magliocco is indicated on eight counts of rape, 3rd, a Class E felony, and nine counts of criminal sexual act, 3rd, a Class E felony. Magliocco is accused of being older than 21 years old and on at least eight different occasions, engaging is sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with a person less than 17 years old. All but one occasion is alleged to have occurred in a house in the City of Batavia and the other incident was allegedly sexual intercourse in a tent in the Town of Batavia.

Aaron W. Clark is indicted on one count of burglary, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, and 11 counts of criminal possession of stolen property, 4th, a Class E felony. Clark is accused of entering a garage of a house on South Bennett Heights, Town of Batavia, on Aug. 3, with the intent of committing a crime. He is accused of unlawfully possessing eight credit cards and three gift cards.

Patrick M. Hackett is indicted on a count of rape, 3rd. Hacket is accused of being 21 or older and engaging in sexual intercourse with a person less than 17 years old.

Heather D. Stone is indicted on a count of burglary, 3rd, a Class D felony, and a count of petit larceny. Stone is accused of entering a residence on Hebard Road, Town of Le Roy, on Aug. 2 or Aug. 3, 2012, with the intent to commit a crime. Stone is accused of stealing deep cell marine batteries.

Brett C. Bartolotta indicted on a count of DWI, a Class E felony. Bartolotta is accused of driving drunk in the Village of Corfu on July 6. Bartolotta was allegedly convicted of a prior DWI in the City of Rochester in July 2010.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Two car wrecks with injuries prompt response from Pembroke and Indian Falls fire departments

post by Billie Owens in accident, corfu, indian falls, pembroke

Two nearly simultaneous car accidents require the response of both the Pembroke and Indian Falls fire departments, along with Corfu and mutual aid from Darien.

At 7:07 p.m. a car-into-house accident, with injuries, was reported at 721 Akron Road. The side porch was "completely taken out and there is substantial damage to the vehicle," according to a responder.

This may connected to a just-prior accident at 878 Gabbey Road where a car reportedly went off the road and there are injuries. The pickup truck involved is said to have fled the scene.

A responder said he was nearly hit head on by the pickup truck believed to be the same one which left the Gabbey Road incident.

Darien Fire Department is requested to aid in shoring up the residence that was struck on Akron Road, wherein one person suffered a hand laceration.

7:35 p.m.: One person is being loaded into a Mercy rig for hospital transport. The natural gas fuel provider is called to the scene since the house that was struck had its gas on at the time of impact.

7:55 p.m.: One person was taken to ECMC. National Grid was also called to the scene.

Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm

GO ART! announces winners of Accordion Fest Prize Package Giveaway

post by Billie Owens in announcements, corfu

Press release:

The Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council is pleased to announce the winners of its 2013 Accordion Fest Prize Package Giveaway. Winners were drawn at the event on Sept. 28 in Medina:

  • Yamaha Guitar Package from Roxy’s Music – Joyce Kohorst, of Corfu
  • Fall Foliage Excursion for Two from Medina Railroad Museum – Rich Pastuch, of Rochester
  • $25 Gift Certificate from Shirt Factory Café, Medina – Charles Kohorst

Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to all participants. Proceeds from the drawing support the programs and services of the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council (GO ART!), a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that supports and promotes art and culture in Genesee and Orleans counties.

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Shed fire on Route 5 by South Lake Road, Pembroke

post by Billie Owens in Alabama, corfu, Darien, east pembroke, fire, indian falls, pembroke

A shed fire (which has also been referred to as a barn) is reported 653 Main Road in Pembroke near South Lake Road. Pembroke command on scene says "there are exposure issues," to a nearby structure. Route 5 and South Lake Road are being shut down. Called to provide mutual aid are: Darien, Corfu, East Pembroke, Indian Falls, Alabama, and Akron.

UPDATE 5:07 p.m.: The fire is knocked down. No exposures involved. They are doing rehab on the shed. Responders still headed to the scene are told to come in non-emergency.

UPDATE 6:13 p.m.: The road is reopened. All responders are back in service.

UPDATE (by Howard): Photos added. No official cause, but it's possibly an electrical fire according to preliminary indications. A van and an ATV were destroyed along with tools.

Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Corfu girl flown to Strong following two-vehicle accident in Oakfield

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, corfu, Oakfield

A 9-year-old girl from Corfu lost consciousness following an accident this afternoon in Oakfield and was taken by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital.

After the girl regained consciousness, Samantha Davis started screaming and was screaming as she was loaded onto the helicopter. First responders took her screaming as a good sign.

Samantha was a passenger in a 2010 sedan driven by her mother, Christine A. Davis, 33, of Pratt Road, Corfu.

According to Sgt. James Meier, Davis was driving south on Lewiston Road and started a left-hand turn onto Maltby Road.

Her car was T-boned by a 2012 Ford pickup truck driven by Jon Doran, 48, of Weber Avenue, Oakfield.

Doran, his wife, Kimberly, 46, and son, Cody, 23, all suffered minor injuries and were transported to UMMC.

Christine Davis was transported by ground ambulance to Strong.

She was cited for alleged right-of-way violation.

The investigation was conducted by Deputy Lonnie Nati.

Oakfield fire and Mercy EMS responded to the scene.

(initial report)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Funeral services set for local businessman killed in accident Sunday

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, corfu, pembroke

Funeral services have been set for Kevin Doktor, a local businessman killed in a heavy machinery accident Sunday at his home in Corfu.

Doktor owned Doktor's Welding on Route 5 in Corfu and enjoyed auto racing and making his own inventions.

Friends are invited to a time of sharing and memories from 4 to 7 p.m., Friday, at J. Leonard McAndrew Funeral Home, 2 Bogue Ave., Batavia.

The funeral service is at 10 a.m., Saturday, at Pembroke Community Church, 692 Main Road, Corfu.

(Full Obitutary)




Sunday, September 15, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Local businessman killed in skid loader accident at his home in Corfu

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, corfu, east pembroke

State Police are continuing to investigate the apparent accidental death of Kevin Doktor, of Boyce Road, Corfu, late this afternoon.

According to what East Pembroke firefighters were told when they arrived on scene, Doktor was operating a CASE Model 1840 skid loader when it became stuck, said Stephen Smelski, assistant chief for East Pembroke.

Doktor's son went to get a piece of equipment at Doktor's nearby house to pull it out and returned to the skid loader with a neighbor.

The 54-year-old Doktor was reportedly caught between the loader's bucket and the front of the seat area of the loader.

Smelski said it appeared Doktor was either trying to repair something or get back into the skid loader when the bucket fell.

There should be safety devices on the loader to prevent such accidents said a neighbor who works regularly with skid loaders. It's not known at this time why such a safety device might have failed.

At this stage of the investigation, State Police are not discussing any details of the incident, but it is being investigated as an accident.

Smelski said when firefighters arrived, they tried to lift the bucket, but the apparent equipment malfunction prevented them from moving it. Even if they had been able to move it, Doktor's injuries were too severe for first responders to have saved him, Smelski said.

Doktor was well known in the Corfu and East Pembroke communities. He owned Doktor's Welding on Route 5.

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