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Monday, May 12, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Fire, possibly from burning tires, is reported in woods off South Lake Avenue, Bergen

post by Billie Owens in bergen, fire

An unknown type of fire, possibly burning tires, is reported in the woods behind 68 S. Lake Ave. Bergen firefighters are responding.

Friday, May 9, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Two local Nazareth College students named to Class of '14 Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society

post by Billie Owens in batavia, bergen, Milestones

Nazareth College is pleased to announce 73 new members in the 2014 Class of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. Two are from Genesee County: Kathleen O'Donnell, of Batavia, and Courtney Taylor, of Bergen.

Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 7:23 am

Law and Order: Batavia teenager accused of rape in the first degree

post by Howard B. Owens in Basom, batavia, Alabama, bergen, corfu, crime, Oakfield

Joseph A. Saraceni, 17, of Linwood Avenue, Batavia, is charged with first-degree rape, a Class B felony. Saraceni was arrested by Batavia PD following an investigation by Det. Charles Dudek and Det. Thad Mart in an alleged incident reported Nov. 11 on School Street, Batavia. No further details released.

Lance Mercado, 23, of Holland Avenue, Batavia, is charged with operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs. Mercardo was arrested after Batavia PD received a reported of a possible intoxicated driver in the parking lot of McDonald's at 1:18 a.m., Tuesday. Mercardo was arrested by Officer Matthew Lutey.

Eric J. Davis, 36, of Corfu, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Davis was arrested by State Police for an alleged incident reported at 6:52 p.m. Tuesday on Drake Street, Oakfield. No further details released.

Timothy M. Gardiner, 38, and Maria A. Gardiner, 48, both of Scottsville, are charged with criminal possession of stolen property, 3rd. Timothy and Maria were arrested by State Police in connection with an alleged incident reported at 9:39 a.m. Feb. 16 in the Town of Bergen. No further details released.

Heidi H. Stumbo, 48, of Lima, is charged with petit larceny. Stumbo was arrested by the State Police on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation. The alleged theft was reported at 1:04 p.m., Monday. No further details released.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Bergen woman charged with felony DWI after early morning accident

post by Billie Owens in accident, bergen

Kassandra Ryan Funk, of Acton Road, Bergen, was charged with two felony counts of driving while intoxicated following a property damage accident at 1:35 a.m. today on North Bergen Road in the Town of Bergen.

The 21-year-old was arrested on felony charges of having previously been convicted of DWI within the last 10 years and aggravated DWI for an alleged BAC of .18 or more. In addition, she is charged with refusal to take breath test, failure to keep right, and leaving the scene of a property damage accident.

Funk is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges at 5 p.m. on June 4 in Bergen Town Court. The accident was investigated by Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Corona, assisted by Deputy Jason Saile.

Photo of accident scene submitted by a reader.

Friday, May 2, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Man indicted on four felony counts after allegedly putting Deputy Brian Thompson at 'grave risk of death'

post by Billie Owens in bergen, Grand Jury, Le Roy, pembroke

These are the latest indictments issued by the Genesee County Grand Jury.

Scott A. Kopper is indicted on first-degree assault, a Class B violent felony. It is alleged that on Jan. 8 in the Town of Pembroke, with intent to cause serious injury to another person, he caused injury to such person or to a third person, in this case Sheriff's Deputy Brian Thompson, by means of a dangerous instrument -- a vehicle. In count two, Kopper is accused of the crime of reckless endangerment, 1st, a Class D felony. It is alleged that on the same day, "under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life," he recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death to another person by closing the window of his vehicle thereby trapping Deputy Thompson's arm, and started to drive away, dragging Deputy Thompson with him. In count three, Kopper is accused of second-degree assault, also a Class D felony, for acting with intent to prevent a police officer from performing a lawful duty, causing physical injury to such person, Deputy Thompson. In count four, Kopper is accused of second-degree assault, another Class D felony, for allegedly intending to cause physical injury to another person, and causing injury to such person, Deputy Thompson, by means of a dangerous vehicle -- a vehicle.

Antonio A. Ayala and Ashley L. Alvord are indicted on drug-related charges stemming from contact with law enforcement on Nov. 19 in the Town of Bergen. Ayala is indicated for the crime of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, a Class B felony, for allegedly knowingly and unlawfully possessing a narcotic drug, cocaine, with intent to sell it. In count two, Alvord is indicated for the crime of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 4th, a Class C felony, for allegedly knowingly and unlawfully possessing one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances with an aggregate weight of one-eighth ounce or more. In count three, both Ayala and Alvord, are accused of endangering the welfare of a child, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly knowingly acting in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of child less than 17 years old, in this case a 4-year-old child.

Alissa A. Fodge is indicted for third-degree grand larceny, a Class D felony, for allegedly stealing property valued in excess of $3,000 from a convenience store in the Town of Bergen between Aug. 19 and Oct. 16. The value of the property is about $7,040.

Aaron M. Zastrocky is indicated for driving while intoxicated, a Class E felony, for allegedly driving a 1998 Jeep on South Lake Road in the Town of Le Roy on Dec. 20 while intoxicated. In count two, he is accused of aggrevated driving while intoxicated, also a Class E felony, for having a BAC of .18 or more at the time.

Friday, May 2, 2014 at 7:50 am

GCEDC board approves Liberty Pumps expansion project

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, business, GCEDC, liberty pumps

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved a final resolution for the Liberty Pumps project at its May 1 board meeting.

Liberty Pumps is planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion of its existing facility at Apple Tree Acres in Bergen. The renovation will include new spaces for production, warehouse, research and development, as well as an office, auditorium and training center. The capital investment for the expansion project is $9.8 million and will create 27 new jobs while retaining 124 employees.

In 2000, Liberty Pumps invested $3.7 million for the acquisition of the land and construction of a 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. It underwent another expansion project in 2008, which entailed the investment of an additional $4 million for the construction of a 64,000-square-foot addition to the existing facility.

“We are pleased to see Liberty Pumps continue expanding its operations in our region, adding to the growth of employment opportunities in Genesee County,” said Wally Hinchey, GCEDC board chairman.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Dibble: Probable cause for arrest in Bergen shotgun case, now it's up to the courts

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, crime

There was probable cause to arrest John Laverne Robinson, Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble said about the case involving Robinson, a man from Brockport, and a shotgun pointed through a window on Jan. 13, 2013.

So Robinson was arrested and it's now up to the courts to determine the eventual outcome of the case.

It's been 15 months since the incident, and Robinson's arrest two weeks ago raised some interest locally about how a man some believed was just exercising his right to defend himself in his own house could be charged with a crime.

"There's no black and white on these things and there's a lot of gray area on how far you can go and whether your actions are justified," Dibble said. "The deputy looked at the circumstances and looked at the law and consulted with the District Attorney and felt there was probable cause to make an arrest and then let the courts handle it."

Police officers don't determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant, Dibble said. They make an arrest based on probable cause and then let the courts decide.

"There's always two or three sides to every story," Dibble said. "In this case, there's Mr. Crooks' account and then there is Mr. Robinson's account. In the business we're in, absent any other witnesses, it gets down to what one person says against the other and then let the courts sort it out."

Often, Dibble said, cases aren't as clear-cut as people imagine.

"In this system, some cases by their nature, are not always black and white and in the gray areas is where law enforcement and the courts often find themselves in the middle of controversy," Dibble said.

The incident last year was initially handled by the State Police, who arrested 46-year-old Michael S. Crooks, of Salmon Road, Brockport, on a charge of criminal mischief, 4th.

Last week, The Batavian reported that there was no confirmation of an arrest of Crooks because Trooper Victor Morales said there was "no record" of that arrest. Morales was not with Troop A -- he's now Troop A's spokesman -- at the time of the incident 15 months ago and because a judge ordered the criminal case against Crooks sealed, Morales could only respond that there was no record of his arrest.

After learning of the sealed case file, The Batavian confirmed the arrest and charge against Crooks by obtaining a copy of orders of protection he signed Jan. 13 and on Jan. 16, 2013. Crooks was barred for one year from contacting Robinson.

Eventually, Crooks obtained an adjudication in contemplation of a dismissal ruling from the Bergen Town Court, which is why his case is sealed.

The events leading up to the alleged gun-pointing incident began when Crooks became aware -- according to his sworn statement in the Robinson case -- that Robinson and Crooks' wife were communicating with each other. His statement doesn't say whether it was by phone calls or by text or how Robinson and Mrs. Crooks know each other.

Crooks said he told his wife to stop communicating with Robinson, but one afternoon while Mrs. Crooks was out shopping with their children, Michael Crooks went online and checked phone records and found evidence of further communication with Robinson, he wrote in his statement.

According to the statement, Crooks went over Robinson's home on North Lake Road and wanted to speak with him and ask him to stop communicating with his wife. He claimed he intended no harm to Robinson.

Robinson did not answer the door, but Crooks believed Robinson was in fact home.

Crooks said he yelled for Robinson to come out and called him a coward for not coming to the door, according to his own account of events.

Deputy Matthew Butler, in his charging document, says that Robinson told him he called 9-1-1. He said he had a shotgun. He said a dispatcher told him to yell out that he had a shotgun.

Still unsatisfied that Robinson hadn't answered the door, Crooks walked around the house and looked into a window. That's when he saw Robinson pointing a shotgun at him, he said.

He claims Robinson screamed, "get out of here or I'm going to you're (sic) your f---ing head off."

"When I saw that shotgun pointed at my face," he wrote, "I was scared to death that John was going to shoot me."

Robinson is charged with menacing in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor.

During the course of the incident on North Lake Road, Robinson's front door was damaged, according to a family member, which is the apparent reason for the criminal mischief charge against Crooks.

Asked about the right in New York for residents to protect their home and themselves, Dibble said that's true, but the law has gray areas and that's where this case falls.

"The law also says you can walk up to anybody's door and knock on the door," Dibble said. "That's part of general business law."

Dibble said a deputy investigated the case because Crooks filed a complaint. It's not known why Crooks went to the Sheriff's Office rather than the NYSP with his complaint or why troopers didn't charge Robinson back in January 2013 after the initial investigation into the case.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said his office has yet to determine how it will proceed with the case.

"The best I can say is the Sheriff's Department did an investigation and made an arrest and that's what they do," Friedman said. "We haven't determined what the disposition might be. We didn't do the investigation. We don't do investigations. They came to the conclusion that the charge was appropriate and (Assistant DA) Kevin Finnell will look at the case. We have full discretion on what we feel is an appropriate disposition, whether not to prosecute it or to take it to trial or anything in between."

Robinson's next court appearance is 3 p.m., May 21, for arraignment on the charge.

Click here for an article about New York's "Castle Doctrine."

Monday, April 28, 2014 at 4:40 pm

GCEDC board set to vote on assistance for Liberty Pumps expansion

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, business, GCEDC, liberty pumps

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider a final resolution at its May 1 board meeting.

Liberty Pumps is planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion of its existing facility at Apple Tree Acres in Bergen, to create new spaces for production and warehouse, research and development and a new office, display, auditorium and training center. The company is investing $9.8 million for the expansion project, creating 27 new positions, and retaining 124 employees. 

Liberty Pumps has undertaken several projects in the last few years. In 2000, the company invested $3.7 million to construct and equip a 60,000-square-foot facility and in 2008 they undertook a 64,000-square-foot addition.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Dr. Bruce A. Holm Upstate Med & Tech Park -- 99 MedTech Drive in the Town of Batavia, on the 2nd floor, across from Genesee Community College.

Not in the press release, but from another e-mail sent out by GCEDC today:

Liberty Pumps is planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion onto its existing 120,000-square-foot facility at Apple Tree Acres in Bergen. (Of that,) 81,400 square feet will be dedicated to production and warehouse, 7,600 square feet will house new research and development/ test facility space, and 11,000 square feet will hold new office, display, an auditorium and training center. ... The company has submitted an application to the GCEDC requesting assistance that includes tax savings of $377,600, a mortgage tax exemption savings of $93,750, and property tax abatement of $863,577 due to the incremental increase in assessed value.

Friday, April 25, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Alleged victim of shotgun menacing claims Bergen resident was communicating with his wife

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, crime

The man who went to the residence of John Lavarne Robinson the afternoon of Jan. 13, 2013 and allegedly found himself face-to-barrel with a shotgun said in a statement to police that he only had a simple question for Robinson: Why was the Bergen resident communicating with his wife?

The Brockport resident said he had previously confronted his wife about the communication with Robinson and said he believed she had gone out on a couple of dates with Robinson. After checking phone records online, the man said he found there were new, recent communications between Robinson and his wife.

"I wanted to talk with John about his involvement with (my wife) and tell him to stop talking with her," the man wrote in his statement.

The statement, and Robinson's statements, along with the charging document were acquired by The Batavian from the Sheriff's Office through a FOIL request.

Members of Robinson's family and his supporters have left comments on The Batavian, through e-mails and on social media defending his actions.

Their version of events has consistently said that the alleged victim was banging on Robinson's door, threatening Robinson and that Robinson called 9-1-1 and was told by dispatchers to use his shotgun to protect himself.

Family members have also said the alleged victim was arrested by State Police the day of these alleged events, but Trooper Victor Morales, spokesman for Troop A, said there is no record of such an arrest.

Deputy Matthew Butler, who investigated the case and arrested Robinson, included several statements he attributes to Robinson in part of the charging document. He said Robinson told him, "I called 9-1-1." "He was kicking the shit out of my door." "I loaded my shotgun." "I yelled that I had a gun." "9-1-1 told me to do that." "He was calling me a coward and that he was going to kill me." "I thought he was coming in."

The Brockport resident said, "At no time did I want to cause harm to John. I just wanted to discuss his relationship with my wife. When I saw that shotgun pointed at my face, I was scared to death that John was going to shoot me."

In his statement, the man said he had reason to believe Robinson was in his house and kept knocking on the door. He said when he went looking for another doorway, he walked past a window and saw movement so he took a closer look into the window.

He says he did call Robinson "a coward" for not coming out.

He said he saw Robinson on the phone and Robinson screamed at him, "get out of here or I'm going to (blow) your (sic) f---ing head off." He wrote, "John was saying this and pointing the gun at my head and he was only a few feet away from me."

Monday, April 21, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Bergen resident builds new store and gas station at routes 33 and 19

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, business

Bergen has a new gas station and convenience store, along with a Dunkin' Donuts location, on Clinton Street Road, near the intersection of Route 33 and Route 19.

Owner Kamaljat Sembhi, who started operating a small, old gas station on the property in 1996, said he thought the location was ideal for an expanded store and gas station. He worked with Dunkin' Donuts to lease space inside the store and offer drive-up donuts and coffee.

"I thought it was a pretty good spot," Sembhi said. "The best corner in the area."

The new store is 3,000 square feet and there are three pumps outside along with two diesel pumps and a kerosene filling station.

The Bergen resident said business has been "pretty good" since opening a month ago.

"We've been busy. I'm happy with that."

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