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Howard Owens's blog

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Truck driver allegedly watching porn at time of fatal accident on Thurway

post by Howard Owens in accident, pembroke, Thomas Wallace, thruway

mug_thomas-wallace.jpgThe driver of a truck involved in a fatal accident on the Thruway the morning of Dec. 12 was allegedly operating on little sleep and viewing porn on a laptop computer at the time of the accident.

Thomas Wallace, 45, of Brook Park, Ohio, has been charged with manslaughter 2nd and jailed on $50,000 bail or $200,000 bond.

Julie Stratton, 33, of Synder, was driving in the passing lane of the Thruway in Pembroke when her car struck a deer and became disabled. She managed to call 9-1-1 before a tractor trailer plowed into her car. Several cars and trucks reportedly managed to avoid hitting her vehicle, which immediately raised questions about how Wallace was apparently unable to avoid striking the car.

Wallace is accused by the State Police of keeping a falsified log book and working a 27-hour shift at the time of the accident. He allegedly had slept only four hours in the previous 24.

State Police also say he had a computer in his lap that was streaming pornography at the time of the accident.

Wallace was reportedly driving for Millis Transfer out of Blackriver Falls, Wis.

Stratton was the mother of two young children.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Burglar caught on Griswold Road

post by Howard Owens in crime, Le Roy

An alleged would-be burglar has just been busted on Griswold Road.

Law enforcement (probably Sheriff's Deputies and State Troopers) officers on scene were setting up to take the suspect while he was still in the house.

A female was reportedly waiting in a car outside the house.

It's unclear how law enforcement became aware of the burglary in progress. Several units responded to the scene.

The owner was not apparently home and officials did not have contact information for him.

UPDATE: While the initial call said "Griswold Road," it was actually Griswold Circle in Le Roy. You can read the arrest report here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Gas truck jackknifes on Ledge Road, no spill, no injuries

post by Howard Owens in Basom, accident, Ledge Road

One lane of Ledge Road in Basom is closed after a gas truck carrying 8,500 gallons of fuel jackknifed.

The truck remained upright and no gas was spilled.

No injuries are reported and there are apparently no other vehicles involved.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Injury accident reported on Alexander Road

post by Howard Owens in accident, alexander, Alexander Road

An injury accident has been reported in the area of Alexander and Cookson roads, Alexander.

Alexander Fire and Mercy EMS have been dispatched.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Person trapped in car, but not injured, on Sumner Road

post by Howard Owens in accident, Darien, Sumner Road

There are reportedly no injuries, but a person is trapped in a car that has turned on its side on Sumner Road, just outside the employee entrance of Darien Lake.

Darien Fire has been dispatched.

UPDATE 11:14 a.m.: Both occupants are out of the car. No injuries.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 11:06 am

Police Beat: Woman accused of insurance fraud

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime, pembroke

Wendy Lynn Mucher, 40, 27 Valle Drive, Batavia, is charged with insurance fraud 3rd. Mucher allegedly presented a State Farm agent a receipt containing materially false information related to her claim for payment.

Kyle Davis Faron, 26, of 8133 Remsen Road, Pembroke, is charged with felony DWI, felony driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and unsafe lane change. Faron was stopped at 1:23 a.m. by Deputy Jason Saile in front of Faron's residence.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 11:03 am

Three-car accident reported on Thruway, minor injury

post by Howard Owens in accident, pembroke

There was initially a report of a three-car accident with injuries at mile marker 395 of the Thruway.

Then there was a report of an accident at marker 392, but the first responder could not locate that accident.  He did proceed to the accident at 395.

East Pembroke Fire and Mercy EMS have been dispatched.

UPDATE 10:26 p.m.: East Pembroke back in service.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 10:32 am

Accident with injuries reported on Route 20, Alexander

post by Howard Owens in accident, alexander

An accident on Route 20 involving a car and truck on Route 20 in Alexander has been reported.

A woman is reportedly in and out of consciousness and there was a child in the car.

As a precaution, dispatch checked on the availability of Mercy Flight, but Mercy Flight is grounded due to weather.

Extrication will be required.

UPDATE 9:34 a.m.: First responder reports no serious injuries.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 10:14 am

Today's Deals: Blue Pearl, Alex's, T.F. Brown's, Jackson St., Margarita's, Center Street

post by Howard Owens in Deal of the Day

Blue Pearl Yoga, 200 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Exercise your soul as well as your body in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. We have a gift certificate for a seven-week  session (one class per week), which is a $56 value, for $28.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

T.F. Brown's, at 214 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: T.F. Brown's is a great place for a good meal, good friends and to catch up on what's going on in the sports world. "If it happensin sports, it happens at Brown's." We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Jackson St. Grill/Belladessa's, 9 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When it's time for a great hamburger, Jackson St. Grill will serve you among the best around. We have a $10 gift certificate for $5.

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant, 15 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When you're looking for an authentic Mexican meal, Margarita's is the place to go. The food and atmosphere are perfect and the service is always outstanding. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Center Street Smoke House, 20 Center St., Batavia, NY: Authentic Southern BBQ, from ribs to brisket with all the fixin's. We have a $25 gift card for $12.50.

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 10:07 am

Accident reported on Route 33, Bergen

post by Howard Owens in accident

Bergen Fire and Mercy EMS are being dispatched to a reported motor vehicle accident on Route 33 and Dublin Road.

There is reportedly an injury and at least one person is trapped in a car.

No word on how many vehicles involved.

UPDATE 9:11 a.m.: Second caller says no entrapment, but there are injuries.

UPDATE 9:43 a.m.: Bergen Fire back in service.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Photo: Barn on Clipnock Road, Stafford

post by Howard Owens in BARNS, photos, Stafford


This old barn is on Clipnock Road near Route 5 in Stafford.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Trust fund set up for woman who lost her house in Bethany this morning

post by Howard Owens in Bethany, fire


Friends of a BOCES teacher who lost her home in East Bethany to a fire this morning have set up a trust fund to help her. She lost all of her possessions and three pets.

Cassandra Carlsen, who works at East Bethany Presbyterian Church, notified us this afternoon that a trust fund is established at Five Star Bank for Louise Ward. Anybody can make a donation.

The 58-year-old fire victim has been a member of the church since May.

"She's a wonderful person and it's just a tragedy that she lost her home and her pets are gone," Carlsen said.

Ward and her late husband, Bruce, purchased the house at 5823 E. Bethany-Le Roy Road about three years ago. Bruce was diagnosed with cancer some time later and died.

Carlsen said that Ward has been very involved in the church and church members have quickly stepped forward to offer support.

Meanwhile, the official press release from the Sheriff's Office has been released.

As reported previously, the fire appears to have started with a wood stove and the house was a total loss.

The initial calls of fire came in from Steve Weaver and Louis M. Reeb, who were passing by. After seeing the flames coming from the rear, southwest corner of the house. Reeb immediately knocked on the doors and windows to alert any possible occupants, but got no response.

The house was insured through Tompkins Insurance Agency.

To donate, mail checks to: FIVE STAR BANK, 124 W. Main St., Le Roy, NY, 14482; Attention: Louise Ward Trust Fund.

UPDATE:  Photos added. The house was knocked down both as a safety precaution to prevent anybody from entering an unsafe strurcture and to help fight the fire. Crews were on scene about 4 p.m. to knock out a hot spot that flared up.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Pontillo's location sold to real estate developer

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's

A Rochester-based real estate developer has acquired the old Pontillo's building at 500 E. Main St., Batavia.

Thomas Masachi said today that he isn't ready yet -- perhaps next week -- to discuss the plans he and his partners have for the location. 

Masachi, who is in the RIT Hall of Fame for his success in hockey and lacrosse, would not discuss the price he paid for the location, and that information has not yet become publicly available.

One of Western New York's most legendary pizzerias, Pontillo's closed in November 2008 after falling behind more than $112,000 in its taxes. John Pontillo made an attempt to buy the business and location out of probate, but he said his offers were rejected. The property was then sold at auction to a bank in Rochester, which in turn sold the property to Masachi.

For his part, John Pontillo is continuing to work on a plan to open a new pizzeria in Batavia. Reached yesterday, he said he hasn't settled on a location yet.

Meanwhile, Sam Pontillo continues to operate a Pontillo's Pizzeria in Le Roy on Main Street.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Judge denies motion to produce phone records in Wendt case

post by Howard Owens in accident, alexander, crime, Darien, Ronald J. Wendt

If Defense Attorney Thomas Burns wants the mobile phone records of the occupants of a Toyota in which one of the passengers was killed in an accident, he will need to subpoena them himself.

Judge Robert C. Noonan denied Burns' motion to require the prosecution to produce the records.

In his ruling, Noonan noted that the defense can obtain the records subpoena duces tecum, which means "bring with you under penalty of punishment."

Asked whether he would issue such a subpoena, Burns responded:

The Court has decided that the items sought can be independently secured by the defense. Of course there are a number of hurdles to acquire the information necessary to issue an appropriate subpoena to acquire them. The defense merely sought the assistance of the prosecution in providing that information. Since the ruling requires the defense to independently acquire such information we will do just that. The irony is that in a civil proceeding the discovery mechanisms provide for almost unlimited disclosure from the opposing party, by use of depositions etc., these things are not available to a criminal defendant. Nor does a prosecution witness have any obligation to speak to a criminal defendant's attorney or investigator. However, it is my intention to take whatever steps are necessary to secure records of all occupants of the vehicle. The remaining issue is that of relevance. For a jury to be informed of the content of such information the Court would need to be convinced that such information is relevant and probative on a material issue in the case.

Burns is defending Ronald J. Wendt, a 24-year-old Alexander resident who faces numerous felony charges following the accident that took the life of Katie Stanley, 18, of Dansville. Criminal enhancements sought by District Attorney Lawrence Friedman could lead to as much as a 25-year sentence. Wendt allegedly had a BAC of .08 at the time of the accident.

The dirver of the Toyota, Rachel L. Enderle, 27, also of Dansville, was named in a lawsuit filed last month in Rochester by one of the occupants of the car, Michael A. Enderle.

There were apparently no skids marks left by the Toyota prior to hitting Wendt's pickup truck.

Wendt is in jail on $250,000 bail after he reportedly violated the terms of his previous release by riding a motorbike to work.

For previous coverage of the Ronald J. Wendt case, click here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 9:58 am

House fire in East Bethany

post by Howard Owens in Bethany, fire


A house at 5823 E. Bethany-Le Roy Road, East Bethany, is reportedly on fire.

Callers report the house is fully involved.

East Bethany, Stafford and Alexender were dispatched on the first alarm. A second alarm is being initiated.

UPDATE 10 a.m. (on scene): The house appears to be a total loss even while firefighters continue to battle the blaze. The owner was not at home and has been contacted. She lived alone and said nobody else would have been in the house. The fire appears to have started in the area of a wood stove. The stairwell to the second floor was engulfed and firefighters were forced to leave the interior of the house. Without interior firefighters, it's become a much harder fire to fight.

UPDATE 10:22 a.m.: The owner of the home is Louise Ward, 58. She is on scene and confirmed with officials that no other people were in the house. There were, however, a dog and two cats inside.

UPDATE 12:06 p.m.: We left the scene about an hour ago, but spoke with Fire Coordinator Tim Yaeger before leaving. Yaeger confirmed that firefighters were inside for about 10 or 15 minutes before the integrity of the stairway was compromised. From that point on, the volunteers were required to fight the fire from the exterior only. He called the house a total loss. Yaeger anticipated it would be hours before the fire would be extinguished, and it may require bringing in heavy equipment to knock down parts of the structure. The dog and two cats were believed to have died in the fire. The fire appears to have started in the wood stove area. Volunteer fire departments from throughout the eastern part of Genesee County responded to the fire, including (but not limited to), Bethany, East Bethany, Pavilion, Alexander, Le Roy and Bergen.

UPDATE 12:23 p.m.

Mobile phone video submitted by a reader at the scene:

UPDATE 2:09 p.m.: It sounds like most of the remaining units are going back in service. Tim Yaeger and his staff are back in service.

More pictures after the jump (below the map):

View Larger Map

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 9:44 am

Police Beat: Man faces charges following fight with girlfriend

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Oakfield

Todd James Pangrazio, 34, of 8032 E. Main Road, Le Roy, is charged with coercion 1st, criminal mischief 4th, endangering the welfare of a child and harassment 2nd. Pangrazio allegedly got into a fight with his girlfriend and "instilled fear in her," and damaged her mobile phone, preventing her from calling for help. He also allegedly had physical contact with her and two children under age 17. The case was investigated by Deputy Frank Bordonaro.

Eslie James Worthington III, 20, of 2609 Batavia-Oakfield Townline Road, is charged with harassment 2nd. Worthington is accused of striking another person in the face at about 2 a.m. on Dec. 20. (Worthington was also involved in a one-vehicle accident Dec. 27 in which he suffered a head injury.)

A 17-year-old boy from Oakfield has been charged with forcible touch. The alleged incident occurred in December. He is accused of inappropriately touching a female who was at his residence. The case was investigated by Kristopher Kautz.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 9:20 am

Grand Jury Report: Insurance fraud charges filed against former corrections officer

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime, Grand Jury, Le Roy

Following its session last week, the following indictments were handed down by the Grand Jury:

James S. Gibbs faces a 24-count indictment stemming from an allegedly false disability claim. Gibbs was originally arrested on these charges in October 2009. The indictment includes charges for grand larceny, insurance fraud and offering false instruments for filing and a violation of the worker's compensation law.

Jason W. Wolf is charged with grand larceny 3rd. Wolf is accused of stealing more than $3,000 in unemployment benefits between August 2007 and February 2008.

Micahel P. McDonald is charged with DWI and DWI with a BAC of .08 or greater. McDonald is accused of operating a 2004 Suzuki in the parking lot of 355 W. Main St. on Sept. 21, 2009 while drunk.

Daniel N. Brown is charged with grand larceny 4th. Brown is accused of stealing child support payments valued at more than $1,000. The alleged crime took place in the Town of Le Roy between January and June 2008.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 8:52 am

City will continue study on possible housing rehabilitation program

post by Howard Owens in batavia, neighborhood improvement

A majority of Batavia City Council members want city staff to continue studying a plan to turn over houses that have become delinquent in their taxes to a non-profit organization for rehabilitation.

Setting up such a process -- whether it involves creating a new non-profit corporation run by the city or working directly with Habitat for Humanity -- will require additional staff research time, legal expense and potentially staff time to manage any new program.

Councilman Tim Buckley wanted to table the proposal, saying the city has too many other bigger priorities, but the consensus of the council during last night's conference meeting was to ask City Manager Jason Molino to conduct further research.

Council President Marianne Clattenburg said she saw the program as an opportunity to prevent more housing units from falling into low-end rental units and become better maintained owner-occupied homes.

Councilman Sam Barone, who works with Habitat for Humanity, sometimes has trouble buying a house at auction because they get out bid.

A partnership on housing rehabilitation would allow the designated non-profit to buy the house before it goes to auction.

However, the council also discussed the fact that nothing prevents Habitat from reaching out to a tax-delinquent property owner before a house goes up for auction and paying the back taxes in exchange for the property deed.

Only about three homes per year fall into delinquncy and go up for auction.

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