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Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 2:21 pm

'Vile' letter to ex-girlfriend a factor in 15-year sentence for admitted serial burglar

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Stafford

Russell P. Cessna, 25, of 18 Pleasant St., Le Roy, will spend somewhere near the next 15 years in state prison.

Cessna was sentenced in county court this morning for burglarizing more than a dozen homes in Genesee County.

As District Attorney Lawrence Friedman told Judge Robert C. Noonan, if Cessna received the maximum sentence under his plea agreement, he would spend less than a year in jail for each of his crimes.

Three of Cessna's victims told Noonan how Cessna's burglaries had changed their lives forever.

"I don't like that I don't trust people anymore," said one victim. "I don't like that I don't like seeing cars parked in front of my house because I don't know if somebody is looking at my house because they want to take something from me."

The victim suggested that when Cessna gets out of prison, he be required to do 2,080 hours of community service to reimburse the government for all the resources used to investigate, prosecute and incarcerate him.

Another victim said Cessna stole her wedding ring (custom designed by her husband, which she wasn't wearing during her pregnancy) and her graduation ring.

"He took away the two things that meant the most me and something that can't be replaced," she said.

Another victim also said he has become more distrustful and worried about people coming onto his property.

"You're going to have a lot of time in the next 1,800 to 5,400 days of your life," the victim said. "You'll be able to think about why you did what you did and why you didn't just get a job."

Noonan also received letters from friends and family who support Cessna, but there was also a letter Cessna wrote to a former girlfriend and obtained by the District Attorney's Office that Noonan characterized as "vile."

The letter was discussed extensively by Friedman and defense attorney Jerry Ader.

The letter was written shortly after Cessna's arrest at a time, Ader said, when Cessna was coming down from a severe heroin addiction. Cessna was unhappy with his former girlfriend for something she did that was unrelated to his criminal case.

Ader argued that the letter shouldn't be used as evidence of Cessna's character, yet he couldn't deny that it's a part of who his client is. But he's also a person with friends and family who support him, the attorney said.

"The letters do not paint my client in some rainbow," Ader said. "He is somebody who is troubled, who, while he may not admit it, has mental health issues, issues that run in his family and a drug problem that runs in his family. I'm not saying that excuses him. It explains him."

Local law enforcement caught up with Cessna July 31 as part of an undercover operation that located Cessna in the act of burglarizing a home on Summit Street, Batavia. He accepted a guilty plea to two counts of burglary, 2nd, on Jan. 16.

According to Friedman, Cessna cooperated with investigators from four different law enforcement agencies, admitting to a string of burglaries. Friedman said that cooperation did more to help Cessna himself than it helped law enforcement, because by admitting to the crimes, Cessna avoids possible separate prosecution later on new charges.

Cessna read a handwritten statement to Noonan.

"I wish I could take it all back, but it's too late now," Cessna said, adding later that he knows his actions were selfish. "I'm sorry. I hope they (his victims) can forgive me."

Noonan said Cessna's statement was "a reasonable response for somebody who has committed terrible acts against strangers."

But then there is that letter to Cessna's former girlfriend.

"The letter submitted that was written to a former girlfriend is one of the most vile things I've ever read as part ofa pre-sentence package," Noonan said. "Whether it represents who Mr. Cessna is or, as his attorney said, a part of Cessna, that this man would write such a very, very disturbing letter tells me a lot about the person I am about to sentence."

Cessna was also ordered to pay $32,107.15 in restitution.

Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Following jury verdict on criminal contempt charge, Le Roy man restrained by deputies

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy

A man tried this week on a criminal contempt charge had to be restrained by deputies yesterday afternoon after a jury found him guilty.

Security measures were in place from the start of the trial of Jon Nelson Roblee, 37, of Linwood Road, Le Roy. He wore a weighted boot to inhibit his ability to flee and the defense table was angled toward the jury in such a way, with a skirt around it, that jurors would not be able to see any restraints that might have been placed on him (none where during the trial).

After he was pronounced guilty, Roblee became fixated on the two people who were the victims of his refusal to obey a court order, according to Deputy John Baiocco.

"He stood up and pointed and started yelling that it was a conspiracy to commit murder and took a step towards them," Baiocco said. "He had to be physically restrained."

Baiocco and Deputy Daniel Van Valkenburg grabbed Roblee, and with the assistance of Sgt. Bill Scott, Van Valkenburg cuffed Roblee. He was immediately returned to the Genesee County Jail.

Roblee was indicted on the criminal contempt, 1st, charge in June for calling a person protected by a court order and telling the victim, "I am going to get you and him, too, if it takes the rest of my life."

In October 2011, Roblee was arrested and charged with menacing, 2nd, and harassment, 2nd. He was accused of throwing a coffee pot at a victim, cutting a victim's hand, and displaying two knives at a pair of victims and threatening to kill them.

Sentencing on yesterday's jury conviction is set for 1:30 p.m., March 19.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Law and Order: Le Roy man accused of using stolen debit card

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

Thomas Ianello Jr., 27, of 8 St. Marks St., Le Roy, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property, 4th, and petit larceny. Ianello is accused of wrongfully possessing a debit card belonging to another person and then using that debit card to make withdrawals. Ianello was released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

Cara Leigh Skye, 24, of South Loop, Steamburg, is charged with a felony count of bail jumping. Skye allegedly failed to appear for a court case in Alabama Town Court. Bail was set at $6,000.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Service honoring heroic Four Chaplains is Feb. 3 at United Methodist Church, Le Roy

post by Billie Owens in announcements, Le Roy

Press release:

A service to honor four Army chaplains who gave their lives to save fellow soldiers 70 years ago, will be held at the Le Roy United Methodist Church at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3, and the public is invited.

The service will feature music, an Honor Guard, the National Anthem, hymns, the story of the Four Chaplains read by Jim Neider, Adjutant of the Genesee County American Legion and Scripture readings by various clergy. At the conclusion of the indoor ceremony there will be wreath laying and taps at the Four Chaplains Monument in Trigon Park, only one of three in New York State.

A reception will follow at the Le Roy Servicemen’s Club, 53 W. Main St.

On Feb. 3, 1943 the U.S.A.T Dorchester was sunk by a German torpedo only 150 miles off the coast of Greenland. Of the 902 young men on board, only 230 survived. Many of those survivors owe their lives to the courage and leadership exhibited by the heroic Four Chaplains who, in sacrificing their lives, created a unique legacy of brotherhood.

Since 1951, the Chapel of the Four Chaplains has spread the message of interfaith cooperation and selfless service, touching the lives of people across this great country. Thousands of Four Chaplains Memorial services are held across the nation on or near Feb. 3rd each year to pay tribute to their act of courage.

The Four Chaplains -- rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Methodist minister George L. Fox, Dutch Reformed pastor Clark V. Poling and Catholic priest John P. Washington -- met in November 1942, while attending chaplain’s school at Harvard University. They became good friends and were aboard the Dorchester when it was torpedoed.

It was just after midnight on Feb. 3, 1943. An enemy submarine fired a torpedo toward the U.S.A.T. DORCHESTER’s aging flank. The missile exploded in the boiler room, destroying the electric supply and releasing suffocating clouds of steam and ammonia gas. Many on board died instantly; some were trapped below deck. Others jolted from their bunks, groped and stumbled their way to the decks of the stricken vessel. Taking on water rapidly, the ship began listing to starboard.

Overcrowded lifeboats capsized; rafts drifted away before anyone could reach them. Men clung to the rails, frozen with fear, unable to let go and plunge into the dark, churning water far below.

The testimony of survivors tells us that the sole order and the only fragment of hope in this chaos came from the Four Chaplains, who calmly guided men to their boat stations. They opened a storage locker and distributed life jackets. Then they coaxed the terrified men over the side.

Soon the supply of life jackets was exhausted. Several survivors report watching in awe as the Four Chaplains either gave away or forced upon other young men their own life jackets. These four men of God had given away their only means of saving themselves in order to save others. The chaplains gathered together, and led the men around them in a prayer and a hymn. They linked their arms together as the slant of the deck became severe. And just that way, with their arms linked in brotherhood and their heads bowed in prayer, they sank beneath the waves.

“It is the timeless message of selflessness and sacrifice for one’s fellow man that needs to be repeated and remembered even today,” Neider stated.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Le Roy student on the dean's list at St. Lawrence University

post by Billie Owens in Le Roy, Milestones

Emilie M. Wetzel, of Le Roy, has been selected for inclusion on the dean's list for academic achievement during the Fall 2012 semester at St. Lawrence University in Canton.

To be eligible for the dean's list at St. Lawrence University, a student must have completed at least four semester units and have an academic average of 3.6 (based on a perfect 4.0 scale) for the semester.

Wetzel, a member of the Class of 2013, graduated from Le Roy Central School.

St. Lawrence University is a private, independent liberal arts institution of about 2,300 students.

Monday, January 28, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Le Roy PD looking for tips to help to solve burglary on Mill Street

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy

Le Roy PD is looking for public assistance in solving a burglary at a business on Mill Street early Sunday morning.

The break-in occurred about 3:50 a.m. and no suspects have been identified.

The front door lock was broken and the thieves or thief forced entry into the business and stole items.

Anyone having information about this burglary is asked to contact the Le Roy Police Department at 345-6350.

Monday, January 28, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Law and Order: Pa. man accused of carrying loaded, unregistered handgun

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

Richard David Farley, 64, of New Bethehem, Pa., is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, 4th, unlawful possession of marijuana and possession alcohol in a motor vehicle. Farley was a passenger in a vehicle stopped on Route 77 in the Village of Corfu at 11:58 p.m. on Friday. During the traffic stop, Farley was allegedly found in possession of an open container of alcohol, a marijuana cigarette and a loaded, unregistered semi-automatic .22-caliber pistol. Farley was jailed on $2,000 bail.

Brandon P. Stagg, 20, and Oscar J. Familia, 21, of 25 Trumbull Parkway, Batavia, are charged with possession of alcohol under age 21 and unnecessary noise. Stagg and Familia were arrested following a complaint of an underage drinking party at their home. Stagg was charged with possession of alcohol and Familia was charged with unnecessary noise.

Caroline B. Robinson, 31, of 38 Gilbert St., Le Roy, is charged with trespass. Robinson is accused of remaining at a hotel on Oak Street after being told to leave by hotel staff and a Batavia PD officer.

William G. Raschi, 62, of 5630 W. Lake Road, Conesus, is charged with felony DWI, unlicensed operation, unsafe lane change, failure to stop for traffic signal and consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Raschi was stopped on East Main Street, Batavia, at 5:57 p.m. Saturday, by Officer Matt Lutey. The charge is a felony because of an alleged prior DWI conviction in the previous 10 years. Raschi was jailed without bail pending a court appearance today.

Steven J. Raimondi, 19, of 679 E. Main St., is charged with possession of alcohol under age 21. Raimondi allegedly hosted a large underage drinking party at his residence, which was reported at 1:12 a.m., Sunday. A 16-year-old female was also charged.

Paul B. Heale, 58, of 234 Ellicott St., lower, Batavia, is charged with DWAI. Heale was stopped following a complaint of a possibly intoxicated driver at 2:30 p.m. Thursday on Pearl Street by Officer Eric Hill.

Robert D. Griffin Sr., 34, of 319 E. Main St., Batavia, is charged with two counts of criminal mischief, 4th. Griffin is accused of breaking a window by throwing a boot at it during an argument and then preventing a female from calling police by taking her mobile phone.

Frank J. Falcone, 27, of 10599 Main St., upper, Alexander, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th, and harassment, 2nd. Falcone was charged following a lengthy investigation by Batavia PD into an incident in the parking lot of Billy Goats on Oct. 20. Falcone is accused of kicking a vehicle, causing damage, and of punching and slapping the owner of the vehicle.

Tharon Joseph Kunkle, 52, of Read Road, Pembroke, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, operating an ATV on a public highway and unregistered ATV. Kunkle was charged after allegedly being observed driving his ATV on Route 5, Batavia at 2:32 a.m. Sunday by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Samantha Nicole Frear, 25, of Hempstead Avenue, Buffalo, was arrested on a bench warrant out of Town of Darien Court by Buffalo PD following a traffic stop.  The warrant stems from a harassment, 2nd, charge in November, 2009. 

John J. Maroni, 50, of Clay, is charged with possession of unstamped cigarettes, DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, failure to use/improper use of four-way flashers, and consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Maroni was arrested following a report of a vehicle parked along the roadway on Oakfield-Elba Townline Road, Oakfield at 7:13 p.m., Friday.

Vincent Donald Henning, 35, of Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with BAC of .18 or greater, improper right turn and unlicensed operator. Henning was stopped on Seven Springs Road, Batavia, at 10:47 p.m. Friday by Deputy James Diehl.

Andrew Garry Anderson, 28, of Basom, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and speeding in zone (65 in a 40 mph zone). Anderson was stopped on Route 77, Basom, at 12:25 a.m. Friday by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Danielle R. Dixon, 29, of Batavia, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Dixon was stopped at 2:30 a.m. Sunday on Hutton Road, Oakfield, by State Police.

Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 3:09 am

Photos: Le Roy fire annual installation and awards dinner

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Le Roy Fire Department

Bill Wood, a former chief of the Le Roy Volunteer Fire Department has been a firefighter for the past year and his dedication to the department, his willingness to teach younger members and respond to numerous calls earned him the Firefighter of the Year award at the department's annual installation and awards dinner on Saturday evening.

His brother, Tom Wood, is chief for 2013. Dale Ehrhart is 1st assistant chief and Tim Hogle is 2nd assistant chief. Josh Pfendler is business president and Laurie Bater is president of the auxiliary. Bill Seeley is chairman of the fire commissioners.

For this dinner, we tried something a little different for photos. Often when I attend these dinners, getting good pictures of the chiefs and the winners proves difficult because of poor lighting or poor backgrounds (for pictures), so last week I purchased a backdrop stand and a nice cotton U.S. flag. It seems to have worked out pretty well tonight and I intend to bring this set up to any future similar events I'm asked to attend.

For those who attended and wish to purchase pictures, there is a link in the upper right of the slide show below, or click here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 11:53 pm

'Overloaded fireplace leaking fire' on Roanoke Road, Stafford

post by Howard B. Owens in fire, Le Roy, Stafford

An overloaded fireplace is reportedly "leaking fire" at 9767 Roanoke Road, Stafford.

Stafford fire is responding. York fire is responding, and also filling in for Le Roy at Le Roy's fire hall, as well as any other available Le Roy personnel (Le Roy held its annual awards and installation dinner tonight).

UPDATE 10:54 p.m.: Chief on scene reports fire contained to the fire box.

UPDATE 11:05 p.m.: Fire is out. Ventilating.

UPDATE 11:36 p.m.: Stafford and York back in service. York returning to Le Roy's hall for standby duty.

Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Old Architecture

post by Jennifer Keys in architecture, Le Roy, Wiss Hotel

As I did with the Pool controversy two years ago I plan to put up an informational blog about the Wiss Hotel controversy. As I was typing it, though, I was reminded that I have always been an old building person and that most of you do not know me on a personal level, so I thought I would give you some background to lay the foundation.


I grew up in Canandaigua. My family lived in ½ of a house across from the Army Depot until I was nine. It was a great house with a lot of turns and character. There was even a cast iron claw-foot tub! The full size attic was truly amazing. The only access was through the raised panel door in my parents’ bedroom. I loved playing up there. My best friend down the street had an attic I loved even more. I am pretty sure our attic was bigger, but her attic was accessed through their bathroom. That was so cool! I remember as a small child comparing house features. Our stair case had about three steps up to a landing where you turned to go straight up to the second floor. Their staircase went straight up to a slight curve near the top. They even had a laundry-shoot that went from the second floor to the basement. Our friend around the corner lived in a “mansion”. It was an Italianate with a cupola, TWO interior staircases, a side porch and a barn in the City. The first time I visited there I decided I would live in a house with two interior stair cases. The ceilings were so high and the bedrooms were huge.


When I was nine my parents bought their house. I spent my childhood imagining how I could build a second stair case and turn the one stair case around because it does not make sense the way it is. There is an attic room at the top of the stairs on the second floor. Throughout my life I have imagined it as a bathroom, bedroom, home office, play room, you name it.


My dad grew up in a house where his family was only the second family to ever live there. I loved to go to my grandparents’ house to play. They had TWO front doors off of the front porch. There was a name plate on one of the doors that covered the key hole. It had the names of the people who built the house engraved on it. The best part, though, was their basement. My grandpa had finished it into an amazing work shop and food pantry. You could get to the basement from either the kitchen or the exterior “loading” doors as I called them.


As an adult my husband and I have lived in apartment complexes (I hated them, they were so cookie cutter and there were too many rules), an apartment in an old house, and have owned two Victorians. I loved it when we moved to the apartment in the old house. There was plate rail in the dining room. I have spent the last 18 years scouring the countryside for plate rail for both of my subsequent dining rooms. The butler’s pantry was probably my favorite part of that apartment, though. The land lord allowed us to work on the apartment in exchange for rent reduction. That place was gorgeous when we left.


My husband and I purchased our first house when I was 26. It was an 1880 Queen Anne in Rochester. We renovated every single room-4 rooms down stairs, 2 bathrooms, and 4 bedrooms upstairs. We took it down to the studs in every room except four that were already done by the previous owner. We tore out all of the carpets and redid every floor in the house, sanding some, installing new ones as well. We also painted the outside. When we were finished there were eight different colors on the outside bringing out every single exterior detail that was left on it.


Our current house in Le Roy is an 1884 East Lake where we have removed the remaining carpets, renovated two bathrooms, restored the plumbing to two that were not working properly, renovated the kitchen, the laundry/mudroom, and two bedrooms including the floors in the bedrooms (the others were already done). This past weekend we restored a window door and opened up a door-way that had been covered over by a previous owner decades ago and started in on the gigantic living room (with a lot of help from my brother).


I distinctly remember as a child falling in love with old architecture. Second Empire with its Mansard roofs is my absolute favorite and always has been. Brick or clapboard (no vinyl), it does not matter; I adore Second Empire. I also adore Gothic architecture with all of its angles and points. Both are a visual feast. Queen Anne is amazing, as well, with all of its curves and stained glass and turnings. Gingerbread details are a feast to behold. I do like classic Italianate structures as well with their cornices and cupolas. In truth East Lake is not my favorite, but I do not dislike it. It is a little too square for my personal preference, but I have come to adore this house. In fact as I sit here and type I wonder if the chimney next to me is encased in drywall. When we get to this room I am totally going to expose the brick!


Victorian architecture, as you can tell, is my favorite, but I also adore earlier architecture. My husband’s college roommate grew up in houses built in the 16 and 1700’s. They were equally as beautiful with their gigantic cooking fire places and low ceilings to keep the heat in. My love of old buildings goes as far as being able to identify who were the wealthy builders based on the windows.


Old houses and old buildings have such stories to tell. You can see the renovations, the additions, the changes, even the people who have been there. This amazing house we currently live in has two interior staircases. There is a small second story addition that houses the second one which was the “servants’ staircase, along with their bedroom and their kitchen/bathroom. There is something in the basement below the original farmhouse sink that makes me think it was originally a cistern. Last weekend I found what I believe to be the original screen doors for the front of the house. I cannot wait to get them up so everyone can see our gorgeous East Lake front doors. The best part of all of this is that our children (7 and 10) love it when we start working on the house. They want to tear down the other two walls that clearly are not original. I have never pictured myself living in a new or modern house. I was always meant to live in an old house.


I remember as a kid driving through Le Roy on the way to see my cousins in Pembroke. I always loved Le Roy’s main street. It reminded me of home, but smaller, with all of its old houses and old business district. In truth, I never really understood Batavia’s main street. I am sorry to say that as it sounds so harsh, but it is the truth. As a kid my parents drove us around the entire east coast. I remember liking places like Geneva, Le Roy, Naples, villages in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and Virginia.


I think this is a good place to end for now. I hope you have enjoyed the foundation of our story. Within the next few days I will post the next installment.

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