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Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 11:42 am

At least 10 overnight car break-ins reported in and around Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

At least 10 cars were broken into overnight and had items stolen, according to radio transmissions.

Some of the cars -- if not all -- were forced break-ins, rather than the usual opportunistic unlocked vehicle break-ins.

The location of the cars are both within and without city limits, largely in a line from East Pembroke to the city.

Law enforcement officers with both Batavia PD and the Sheriff's Office are taking reports and calls seem to still be coming in.

UPDATE 3 p.m.: We spoke with Sgt. Eric Bolles, Batavia PD. Overnight, two cars on Ellicott Avenue had items stolen from inside the vehicles. Neither car was locked. Since Oct. 4, there have been 12 car break-ins in the city. All but three of them had items stolen. All were unlocked.

We spoke with Deputy Chris Parker who said the Sheriff's Office has taken 11 reports so far on car break ins with items stolen.  There are three reports pending. At least 10 residents have reported car break-ins with only spare change or nothing taken, and the residents did not wish to file a report. The line of break-ins extends along Pearl Street Road and includes side roads such as Wortendyke, Read and Hartshorn. One vehicle had more than $1,000 in cash stolen. Another car had credit cards stolen. Both of those crimes are grand larcenies. While some of the radio transmissions reported cars being locked, Parker said so far there is no evidence of forced entry on any of the vehicles. One report of a locked car is still pending.

UPDATE 6 p.m.: The Sheriff's Office has put out a statement saying that over the past couple of weeks deputies and investigators have been dispatched to a large number of larcenies from vehicles in the East Pembroke area.  The broken-record request from officials, "lock up your vehicles."

Photos: Investigator Kris Kautz found a good set of fingerprints on a picuup truck on Pearl Street Road.

Friday, October 10, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Law and Order: Watchful trooper spots man with pills, leads to a pair of arrests

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime
Karen Soccio Anthony Sgroi

Karen L. Soccio, 52, of Batavia, is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance, 5th, and Anthony P. Sgroi, 49, of Warsaw, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, possession of a controlled substance not in original container and possession of untaxed cigarettes. State Police report that a trooper putting gas in his patrol vehicle observed an individual on Park Road who was handling a small quantity of pills. Upon investigation, the trooper determined the pills were tramadol, a controlled substance. Sgroi was placed in custody and was allegedly found to possess clonazepam, also a controlled substance, and about 1,000 un-stamped cigarettes. With further investigation, Soccio was found to be Sgroi's alleged supplier. Sgroi was jailed on $5,000 bail. No word on Soccio's bail or if she was released.

Lawrence G. Merritt, 52, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Merritt is accused of taking a bicycle that was on display in the store and attempting to exchange the un-purchased bike at the service desk for cash, using a receipt from an earlier bike purchase.

Lawrence Charles Vanocker, 45, of East Street, Gainsville, is charged with petit larceny. Vanocker is accused of stealing $183.87 in merchandise from Walmart.

Friday, October 10, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Another Batavia business reports a break-in, cash stolen

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Another business in Batavia has reported a force-entry burglary, but since the business was closed a few days, the owner can't say whether it happened last night or the same night as four other area businesses were broken into.

Travis Farewell, owner of Sweet Pea's Cupcakery Cafe on Jackson Street, confirmed that a burglar broke open his register and stole cash. He also said the Habitat for Humanity donation box was broken and all of the money in it was stolen.

Det. Todd Crossett confirmed a crime report was taken, but said no other businesses have come forward.

Yesterday, we reported that Salvania's, just a few doors down from Sweet Pea's, was broken into and cash was taken. Three other businesses in the city also showed signs of forced entry, but nothing was reported stolen.

Anybody with information that may be useful to the investigation can contact Batavia PD at (585) 345-6350 or the confidential tip line at (585) 345-6370.

Friday, October 10, 2014 at 11:56 am

Law enforcement agencies remind people to lock vehicles to avoid thefts

post by Billie Owens in crime

Press release:

The Batavia Police Department and other law enforcement agencies throughout the county, have been receiving reports of unlocked vehicles being entered and property being taken. These incidents have occurred over the last several months.

We would like to remind citizens to secure their vehicle’s, and other valuable property, at all times to help prevent these types of larcenies from occurring.

Citizens with information pertaining to these incidents which have occurred in the City of Batavia, are asked to contact the Batavia Police Department at 585-345-6350. Information can also be provided by calling the Batavia Police Confidential Tip Line at 585-345-6370 or by accessing the Batavia Police Department’s Web site and making use of the Suspicious Activity reporting link.

Friday, October 10, 2014 at 7:33 am

Batavia PD looking for driver of gold Impala involved in hit-and-run accident

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A hit-and-run driver damaged a sign at First Niagara Bank at 2:46 p.m., Sept. 26, and Batavia PD is asking for the public's help in identifying the driver.

The car reportedly sped through the ATM lane at the First Niagara branch on Court Street and struck a bank sign and continued without stopping.

The gold Chevrolet Impala likely sustained damage to the driver-side front fender.  

The driver is described as an older female.

If you have information that may assist in the investigation, contact Officer James DeFreze at (585) 345-6350.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Indicted as "John Doe," former burglar turns a new leaf and wins praise from Noonan

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Samuel G. Malone turned from the defense table after Judge Robert C. Noonan finished with him and smiled.

He looked out into the gallery as he strode from that moment where his entire future hung in the balance and spotted his wife and baby and the smile grew wider.

The convicted burglar will remain a free man, at least as free as a man can be while on four years probation.

In that moment, he heard something few convicted criminals ever hear: Praise from an often stern judge with little patience for defendants who don't keep their promises.

Malone kept his promises. He's stayed clean. He's lived sober. He's kept a job. He's worked hard. He's walked the line as a husband and father.

"I'm truly sorry for what I did," Malone had told Noonan. "I am. I have really turned around my life, 100 percent, in every aspect of it. I'm a hard worker. I work 50 to 60 hours a week. I love my children and I love my wife."

Malone hit the front pages in April 2013 in a rather notorious way.

In December 2012, a grand jury indicted a DNA profile as a "John Doe" because the statute of limitations was about to expire on the crime. Even without a name, based on that unique DNA profile, the suspect for those burglaries of local businesses could still be charged.

Five months later, after Malone had been convicted on an unrelated felony, and a DNA sample was collected, as required by law, Malone was identified as that "John Doe."

In August, 2013, Malone entered a guilty plea to two counts of burglary, 3rd, and one count of attempted burglary, 3rd.

Rather than sentence Malone to prison in November, Noonan heeded the advice of the probation departments in Alleghany County (where Malone now lives) and Genesee County. Both probation departments reported that Malone was doing well, staying clean and out of trouble, and leading a new life.

So Noonan put Malone on interim probation for six months.

The judge admitted he was pleasantly surprised at how things worked out.

His own handwritten note from Nov. 12, Noonan said, told him that he thought for sure he would be sending Malone to prison today. The note said, Noonan told Malone, that even a perfect performance while on interim probation wouldn't necessarily keep Malone out of state lock up.

"It's amazing, the turn around you've done," Noonan said. "Even the probation department --certainly no push over on recommendations -- says it would be a step backwards for you to give you any incarceration at this time because you're doing so well."

Noonan's decision to put Malone on probation ran counter to the recommendation of District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, who questioned whether a community-based sentence was appropriate given the severity of the charges.

"I've read the recommendations and he's doing in fact apparently well, and he's done everything, other than driving without a license, that he's supposed to do," Friedman said, "but I'm troubled by the number of serious crimes this defendant committed."

Public Defender Jerry Ader acknowledged that Malone was convicted of a series of serious crimes, but also pointed to how well Malone has done both on probation for his original conviction and the interim probation granted by Noonan.

"He's proven himself almost more than any other client I can remember coming through our office," Ader said. "He has turned his life around. He will be an asset to the community, to his family and to his children."

Noonan reminded Malone that if nothing else, for the next four years, the 28-year-old father will have a lengthy prison term awaiting him if he strays from the path of law-abiding citizen.

"You will have 18 years of prison hanging over your head for any violation of the law while on probation," Noonan said. "That should be sufficient incentive to keep you on the straight and narrow, though you seem to have found your own incentive through your work and family."

Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Law and Order: Batavia resident accused of slapping woman holding an infant

post by Billie Owens in batavia, crime, Pavilion

Cordyn C. Mack, 25, of Wood Street, Batavia, is charged with unlawful imprisonment, 2nd, endangering the welfare of a child, and second-degree harassment. On Oct. 8, Mack was involved in a domestic disturbance that was physical with a female who resides with him. Mack allegedly refused to allow the victim to leave the residence with her infant, and then struck the victim in the face with an open hand while she still had her child in her arms. Mack was arraigned in city court and released under supervision of Genesee Justice. The incident was investigated by Batavia Police officer Frank Klimjack, assisted by officer Mitchell Cowen.

Delwin D. Robinson, 33, of Lake Road, Pavilion, was arrested on Oct. 8, 2014 by the Le Roy Police Department and charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Robinson was a passenger in a vehicle which was stopped for alleged vehicle and traffic violations. After a brief investigation, Robinson was allegedly found in possession of marijuana. Robinson was issued an appearance ticket and is scheduled to appear in the Le Roy Town Court on Nov. 17.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Four Batavia businesses hit with break-ins overnight

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Police are investigating break-ins into four local business, though only one business owner reported missing property.

Salvania's Restaurant, on Jackson Street, had its cash register tipped and money was stolen, said Sgt. Det. Todd Crossett.  

There's apparently nothing missing from Anything Your Heart Desired on East Main Street, Golden Coin Laundry, East Main Street, and Sterling Tent, on Pearl Street, Crossett said.

There are few leads in the case at the moment, Crossett said. 

Anybody with information that may be useful to the investigation can contact Batavia PD at (585) 345-6350 or the confidential tip line at (585) 345-6370.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Dog can finally be adopted after owner admits to animal torture charge and surrenders ownership

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, batavia, crime, pets

Fox'r is ready to go home. Whose home, we don't know yet, but it won't be the home of Nina Kelso.

In City Court today, Kelso finally surrendered ownership of the boxer, who has been living at the Animal Shelter since being found on death's doorstep at Kelso's former residence on Hutchins Street more than nine months ago.

He can now be adopted into a forever home by a local resident.

While Fox'r has put on weight -- he's up to 84 pounds -- and regained his strength, he's also been fidgety and nervous while confined most hours of the day to a cage at the shelter. He likes people and wants to be around people, volunteers say.

The volunteers at the shelter have taken to calling him "Skully" and "Boyfriend" and they've been eager to see Kelso's court case completed so he could find a new home.

Concern for the dog is one reason the District Attorney's Office agreed to a plea bargain in the case, ADA Robert Zickl told Judge Robert Balbick in City Court today.

"There's no reason for the animal to continue being confined to the shelter," Zickl said. "It should be adopted out and that is what we prefer to do because it's in the best interest of the dog." 

Kelso entered a guilty plea on an Alford basis to one count of torturing an animal.

An Alford plea means she concedes she would likely be found guilty by a jury, but does not admit to the facts of the prosecution's case against her.

Today's proceedings started with Kelso's attorney, Fares Rumi, laying out his understanding of the plea agreement offered by the people.

The agreement was a guilty plea to torturing an animal, no fees for his care up at the shelter and no jail time.

Balbick shot back that he wouldn't necessarily agree to the terms at sentencing.

"I would have to look at her background, a pre-sentence investigation, the facts of the situation and decided if no jail would serve appropriate justice," Balbick said. "I can't do that blindly. I know nothing about your client except that she is charged with torturing an animal."

Looks of shock and horror passed over Kelso's face, who sat at the defense table in a black blouse fiddling with a long silver chain draped around her neck. She appeared close to tears.

After some whispers between her and Rumi, some more back and forth between Rumi and Balbick, Balbick suggested the attorneys proceed with the planned suppression hearing.

Rumi had made a motion to get thrown out any statements Kelso made to Officer Jamie Givens the day she responded to an animal cruelty complaint at 142 Hutchins St. on Feb. 4.

Givens found Fox'r at the top of a common stairwell (shared by two apartments). Food was strewn everywhere, there was no water, and it didn't appear that Fox'r even had the strength to raise his head, Givens testified.

He was so emaciated his ribs were showing.

Minutes after Givens arrived on scene, Kelso came up and walked up the stairs and spoke with Givens.

Rumi argued that Kelso should have been read her rights before speaking with Givens. An argument Balbick would later reject saying that Kelso wasn't in custody at the time and her statements were voluntary. 

Kelso told Givens, Givens said, that Fox'r had eaten either cigarettes or some chemical that made him sick and cause sudden weight loss. Kelso reportedly said she knew Fox'r was close to death and that her brother-in-law was supposed to pick him up the next day and take him some place and shoot him to death.

Through the entirety of Givens testimony, Kelso sat silently shaking her head "no."

After the testimony, both attorneys met with Balbick privately.

When they came back into the courtroom, Rumi met with Kelso privately. They all then approached the bench and Rumi said Kelso had agreed to the terms.

Balbick again emphasized that he retains the option to reject her guilty plea when she comes in for sentencing Jan. 6.

Through tears, Kelso said she understood.

As the details of her guilty plea and the process were discussed, Kelso stood next to her attorney nearly sobbing, but mostly holding it together.

When Balbick asked her if she was ready to surrender the dog, Kelso could barely form the word "yes" with her mouth, started to sob briefly and looked straight up at the ceiling.

Seconds passed, and she managed to sob, "yes."

An animal control officer at the back of the courtroom began preparing the paperwork.

The animal shelter is located at 3841 W. Main Street Road, Batavia. Phone: (585) 343-6410. Applications for adoption are being accepted immediately.  

Around the time of Kelso's arrest, another Batavia woman, Lauren K. Pellegrino, also also arrested for allegedly mistreating her dog, Nessa. Pellegrino was scheduled to appear on her case at 1:30 p.m., and as of 4 p.m., she had yet to show up in City Court. She missed a previous court appearance, as well, and eventually turned herself in on a warrant, according to court officials. The court was attempting to contact her attorney this afternoon. Nessa remains confined to the shelter.

CORRECTION: we originally wrote "no fine." Kelso could be fined up to $1,000. The plea relieves her of responsibility for shelter fees. However when Balbick informed her she could be fined Kelso said she had been willing to pay for Fox'r's care.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 9:47 am

Law and Order: New forgery charge for jail inmate

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

Michael Robert Sigl, 22, of Pratt Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument, 2nd. Sigl allegedly forged a check Sept. 4 from another person's account and used it to make a purchase at a local retail store for $277.54. Sigl is already incarcerated at the Genesee County Jail  on five counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument was arraigned on the new charge and ordered held on $10,000 cash bail. 

Dylan B. Boykins, 41, of Pringle Avenue, Batavia, is charged with attempted petit larceny. Boykins allegedly tried to steal merchandise from Dollar General.

Justin J. Koepp, 32, of East Main Road, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Koepp was charged following an investigation into a reported domestic incident.

Eric John Davis, 36, of Read Road, Corfu, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Davis allegedly violated an order of protection.

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