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Saturday, December 7, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Photos: Christmas trees in Oakfield

post by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield

The annual community Christmas tree display is set up in Oakfield.

Donna Bartolf with the tree from her community group, Oakfield Community Jolly Seniors.

NOTE: I would have made the tree lighting in Elba tonight if not for the fire in Le Roy.

Friday, December 6, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Burglary suspects in Orleans County may also have hit Oakfield homes

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Oakfield, Orleans County

Four men accused of burglaries in Albion, Medina and Lockport are also potential suspects in a series of burglaries in Oakfield in September and October.

The Orleans County District Attorney's Office announced the arrests today, according to Orleans Hub.

None of the suspects have been charged yet in Genesee County.

Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster congratulated the job done by law enforcement in Orleans County, but said the local cases are under review by Genesee County District Attorney's Office. Local charges may yet be filed.

From Orleans Hub:

Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni said the four were persons of interest in the crimes before their arrests. Police from Albion, Medina Lockport and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department were in daily communication, sharing information and gathering evidence.

“Criminals don’t follow jurisdictional lines and neither do we,” Nenni said at a news conference at the Village Hall. “We became one big sheriff’s department or police department.”

The arrestees are:

  • Jonathan Banks, 21, of 4886 S. Townline Road, Medina, faces 10 counts of second-degree burglary, one count of attempted burglary and attempted robbery in the second degree, six counts of grand larceny, seven counts of petit larceny, three counts of attempted petit larceny, and four counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief. He is held in Niagara County Jail on $160,000 bail.
  • Isaiah Bonk, of 531 E. Center St., Medina, faces nine counts of second-degree burglary, one count of attempted burglary in the second-degree, six counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, seven counts of petit larceny, three counts of attempted petit larceny, and four counts of criminal mischief in the fourth degree. He is held in Orleans County Jail on $50,000 bail.
  • Jasper Lloyd, 20, of 107 E. Bank St., Albion, was charged with two counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, two counts of grand larceny and one count of criminal mischief in the fourth degree. He is in Orleans County Jail on $50,000 bail.
  • Thomas Shingleton, 36, of 177 Bates Road, Medina, has been charged with one count of attempted burglary in the second degree and one count of attempted petit larceny. He is in Orleans County Jail on $20,000 bail.
Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Photos: Turkey Trot in Oakfield

post by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield

More than 100 runners and walkers turned out in 19-degree weather this morning for Oakfield's annual Turkey Trot 5K.

The winner was Gabriel Bender (bottom photo).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Suspect says 'out of control' addiction to crack cocaine led to robberies

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

Mark Maltese Robert Grant

In a statement admitting to all three robberies in Batavia and Oakfield over the past week, suspect Mark J. Maltese said the $550 he said he got in the three heists all went to buy crack cocaine, which he said he smoked as soon as he bought it.

Maltese signed a sworn statement in which he he acknowledges his right to remain silent and consult an attorney before talking with police.

"I have been struggling with a major addiction to crack cocaine for about the past six or eight months," Maltese said. "This addiction has consumed me and the majority of my money goes to buy crack to feed by addiction. My crack use got way out of control and I didn't know how to stop or slow down with smoking it. I became desperate for money so that I could get more crack cocaine, so I turned to robbing places to get the money I needed for crack. Every bit of the proceeds from the three robberies went to buy crack for me to smoke. I was out of control with my addiction and didn't know where to turn."

Maltese was arrested early this morning after Batavia police, with back-up from Sheriff's deputies and state troopers, responded to a report of a break-in at the Rent-a-Center at 4152 W. Main St., Batavia.

A worker at a nearby business heard the glass break and called 9-1-1. He took a picture of the suspect's vehicle and was able to provide police with a direction of travel.

The suspect vehicle was located, according to police, at a location on Colonial Boulevard.

A person at that address told police that Maltese and Robert C. Grant carried a large-screen TV into the basement.

In a press conferance at Batavia PD headquarters this morning, Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster, Sheriff's Office, said a birthday party was being held at the residence on Colonial Boulevard.

Chief Shawn Heubusch
during press conference

During the subsequent investigation, law enforcement reportedly uncovered evidence that tied Maltese to three recent robberies early Thursday morning at the Best Western on Park Road, early Friday morning at the 7-Eleven in Oakfield, and early Sunday morning at the Days Inn on Noonan Drive, Batavia.

In the first two robberies the suspect displayed what appeared to be a semi-automatic handgun. At the robbery Sunday, the suspect threatened the Days Inn clerk with a shotgun.

On Friday, while a deputy was pulled over to the side of the road in the area of the bridge over the Tonawanda Creek in Bushville, a person on a bicycle approached and said, "Look what I found," according to Brewster.

It was a silver BB gun and upon comparison with the gun seen in the video of the 7-Eleven heist, investigators determined it was a likely match.

In his statement to Investigator Ron Welker, Maltese admits to using a silver BB gun in the first two robberies. He said he disposed of the gun after the Oakfield robbery in the area of the bridge on Route 5 near the Willow Bend Inn.

Maltese, 43, of 29 Dellinger Ave., Batavia, was charged in City of Batavia, in the Town of Oakfield and the Town of Batavia with robbery in the second degree.

Both Maltese and Grant, 52, of 2444 Angling Road, Pembroke, were charged with burglary, 2nd, in connection with the alleged break-in at Rent-a-Center, where they allegedly tried to make off with a two large screen TVs and a fake fireplace.

Justice Tom Williams set bail in the Town of Batavia case for Maltese at $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond. 

According to Maltese's statement, he drove his girlfriend's green Toyota Camry to the Best Western on Park Road and entered wearing jeans, a black hoodie with "Army" on it, black gloves, a black knit cap, black and red Nike sneakers and a red bandana covering his face. 

He said he walked up to the clerk and pulled out his BB gun and said, "Gimme all your money."

The clerk said, "are you kidding me?" and repeated the question several times. Maltese said he told her he was serious. "This is a robbery."

In her statement to police, the clerk said the suspect told her, "I will shoot you if you don't give me all the money."

The clerk retrieved the money from the cash drawer, he said, and gave it to him and he fled the hotel returning to his residence on Dellinger.

He said he "went up into the attic to figure out what I was going to do next. I then took the money that I got from the robbery which was around $300 and went and spent the entire amount on crack cocaine, and smoked all of it that same night."

Sheriff Gary Maha
during press conference

For the 7-Eleven robbery, Maltese said he wore jeans, a brown hoodie "with some design on it," black gloves, a knit hat, black and red Nike sneakers and a purple bandana covering his face.

He demanded the money in the drawer, got it and left.

He said he spent the entire $50 take on crack cocaine and smoked it all that night.

After the robbery he disposed of the BB gun.

For the Days Inn job, Maltese said he wore jeans, a black hoodie with "New York" on it, black gloves, a knit Sabres hat, black and red Nike sneakers and a black bandana covering his face.

He said he pointed a loaded shotgun at the clerk.

In a statement, the Days Inn clerk said he was frightened during the robbery.

"He said if I pushed any buttons or called anybody, he would shoot me," the clerk said. "I gave him the two drawers. A cash drawer and the change drawer. He pulled the money out the drawers and took the coin holder, too. He then left. He told me as he was backing out the door, that if I called anybody he would come back and shoot me. What scared me was that I actually looked at him."

Maltese said he got away with about $200 and immediately purchased crack cocaine and smoked it all that night.

In his statement, he said Investigator Welker showed him the Nike sneakers, the silver BB gun and a metal coin tray, all of which Maltese said he identified as associated with his robberies.

He said he destroyed the rest of the clothes he wore on those three nights.

Sheriff Gary Maha said the arrest of Maltese demonstrates how closely local law enforcement agencies work together to solve crimes and credited both the investigation that had taken place prior to this morning's Rent-a-Center break-in and the willingness of a witness to contact police and provide detailed information.

Brewster also praised this morning's witness.

"That witness was crucial in identify that vehicle and leading to the arrest of these suspects," Brewster said.

The use of fire arms in robberies create all kinds of dangers for victims, police officers and suspects, Brewster said. A police officer who sees a suspect with a BB gun is likely to believe it's a loaded handgun, he noted.

"We think the danger factor was very high in this case," Brewster said.

The admission by Maltese that his alleged robbery spree was driven by a need to feed a crack cocaine habit and that he had moved up, in a manner of speaking, from using a BB gun to a shotgun, tends to make his timely capture all that more critical, Chief Shawn Heubusch said.

"Any time you have somebody who is addicted to narcotics or doing these types of crimes to feed a habit, it tends to escalate," Heubusch said. "There is a pattern of starting with smaller crimes and getting more serious. It's very concerning. Of course, I can't predict what he would have done next."

Investigators are still trying to determine if Grant or maybe even another person was involved in the robberies, Maha said.

It's possible, according to investigators, the robbery suspect did not drive himself to and from the commission of the crimes.

The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are possible.

Top Photo: Maltese following arraignment in Town of Batavia Court.

Below are photos submitted by Joanne Shriver, owner of Expert Mitigation Services, the company called in to board up the broken window at Rent-a-Center this morning.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 11:34 am

BREAKING: Arrest made in recent robberies

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

A burglary at the Batavia Rent-a-Center overnight led police to a suspect in a string of recent robberies in Batavia and Oakfield.

Taken into custody and charged in the robberies was Mark J. Maltese, 44, of 29 Dellinger Ave., Batavia. Maltese and Robert C. Grant, 52, of 2444 Angling Road, Pembroke, are accused of breaking into the Rent-A-Center this morning.

A witness spotted the alleged Rent-A-Center burglary and provided detailed descriptions of the vehicle and followed the vehicle to a residence on Colonial Boulevard where the suspects reportedly joined a birthday party in progress.

The vehicle reportedly matches the description of a vehicle seen leaving the scene of the Days Inn robbery on Sunday morning.

Police said items were recovered this morning tying Maltese to the burglaries at the 7-Eleven, the Best Western and the Days Inn. At this time, Grant is not a suspect in those robberies and there are no other named suspects, but police said the investigation remains open.

The suspects were taken into custody without incident.

UPDATE: For follow-up story, click here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Oakfield-Alabama middle-schoolers compete in 'Turkey Bowl'

post by Howard B. Owens in football, Oakfield, oakfield-alabama, sports

A cold, cold night, the ground frozen, what better conditions could there be for a flag football game among middle-schoolers?

Last night Oakfield-Alabama held its Turkey Bowl. There was no trophy, just a chance for students to a unique football game -- a chance to play under the lights of the varsity football field.

The event was the brainchild of teacher Dan Gilbert and was put together with the help of James Patrick and Katie Hilchey.

"We thought something like this around Thanksgiving might promote the family feeling of a small school," Patrick said.

Monday, November 25, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Investigators looking for clues from the public on identity of robbery suspect

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

Local law enforcement is asking for the public's assistance in identifying the person or persons responsible for a string of armed robberies over the past five days.

The description of the suspect in all three robberies varies only slightly in each case. He is a white male, either 5'2" to 5'6" or 5'7" and is either of slight build or weighs 200 pounds. The robber has worn a bandana in all three robberies.

In two robberies, the suspect displayed a handgun. In the third, a shotgun. In all three, the employees behind the counter were threatened.

The first was Thursday morning at the Best Western, the second Friday morning at the 7-Eleven in Oakfield, and the third, Sunday morning at the Days Inn in Batavia.

Batavia PD and the Genesee County Sheriff's Office are cooperating in the investigation.

Chief Shawn Heubusch stressed that members of the public should not try to take matters into their own hands, but either call 9-1-1 or (585) 343-5000.

Friday, November 22, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Sheriff's Office investigating armed robberies in Oakfield and Batavia

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

Investigators believe the same person, white male small in stature, is responsible of a pair of early morning armed robberies over the past two days.

Yesterday at 3:05 a.m., the Best Western on Park Road, Batavia, was robbed and then a person fitting a similar description robbed 7-Eleven in Oakfield at 2:09 a.m.

In the Batavia robbery, a Sheriff's sergeant was on scene in seconds and a K-9 was deployed. The suspect was tracked into Batavia but lost.

In Oakfield, the first deputy was on scene within three minutes, according to Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster. The suspect was seen running down Coe Avenue but was not located.

The suspect is described as being 5'2" to 5'6" and a small build.

In both cases the suspect displayed a handgun.

For the Best Western robbery, the suspect wore a black jacket and bandana. In Oakfield, he was dressed a brown hooded sweatshirt or jacket, bandanna and baseball cap.

Anyone with information that might assist in the investigation can contact the Sheriff's Office at (585) 345-5000.

Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Oakfield teen's first deer bow hunting is an albino

post by Howard B. Owens in hunting, Oakfield, outdoors

Emily Staniszewski, a 14-year-old Oakfield resident, killed her first deer this week bow hunting, but not just any deer. It's an albino buck.

She made the kill of the three pointer in Chautauqua County.

Kimberly Staniszewski said the deer is quite the trophy for her daughter.

"Needless to say we are planning on having a full mount of this unique animal to admire for many years to come," Kimberly said.

Friday, November 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm

GCC creates new award -- Entrepreneur of the Month -- and OA grad is named for November

post by Billie Owens in Alabama, Milestones, Oakfield, Photography by Arielle

Press release:

Genesee Community College is pleased to recognize the entrepreneurial spirit of its students through a new Entrepreneur of the Month program. This month, 19-year old Arielle Thompson is being recognized. Arielle graduated with an Advanced Regents diploma from Oakfield-Alabama Central School in 2012 and started her business Photography by Arielle in October 2012. She is a Liberal Arts major at GCC.

Arielle has always had an interest in photography, but wasn't able to purchase the camera she needed until after high school.

"I took a basic course with a local photographer on how to use my camera and all of the settings, but other than that I am self-taught," she says. "I like to consider myself a portrait photographer because that is what I enjoy most. I enjoy being with people and being able to create something that makes them smile."

Arielle's business was born out of necessity. Her mother, Tonya Thompson, needed Arielle to take her brother Justin's senior pictures. Though she had limited experience and knowledge about taking a portrait, Arielle did it and found that everyone loved how they turned out.

"That is when I decided to try and turn that into something, because of how excited everyone seemed to have been when they saw them," she said.

While business was slow in the beginning months, Arielle saw a significant increase in interest when the weather warmed and has been surprised at the inquiries she's received.

"I never thought I would be having so many people call and ask me to take photos of their special moments," she says. "I was even given the opportunity this past June to take photos of a wedding."

Business professor Lauren Paisley is full of praise for her student.

"Arielle is an outstanding example of a student willing to do whatever it takes to succeed," Paisley said. "GCC's Entrepreneurship program, offering the option of an associate in applied science degree or certificate, is the perfect pathway for students of all ages to pursue their dream of owning their business or launching a new product or service. Arielle is a very focused student and we are supporting her efforts in every way possible."

A President's List full-time student, Arielle also has two part-time jobs in addition to her photography business.

"Many people do not understand how I am doing all of this, but photography is my stress reliever from work and school. Many people want to sit, relax and watch TV during their down time, but I would rather be taking photos," she says.

"Her commitment to success in all her endeavors is inspiring," Paisley said.

Arielle finds inspiration from the support of family and friends and the response she's received to her photographs.

"I have never received so much support for anything I have ever done like I do with my business," she says. "It is my driving force."

Arielle currently shoots on location only, but is looking for a space to set up a small indoor/outdoor studio. People interested in contacting her can find her on Facebook at Photography by Arielle.

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