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Friday, September 12, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Lawsuit blames security miscue at Kid Rock concert for Jason McNeil's catastrophic injuries

If Craig Lawson had been properly escorted from the concert venue the night Kid Rock played Darien Lake a year ago July, alleges a Buffalo attorney, he never would have been able to deliver a devastating, life-altering sucker punch to Jason McNeil.

The punch took away the life Jason and his wife Pamela and their two children once knew in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

McNeil, 44, needs constant care after suffering serious head trauma as a result of the punch.

And he wasn't even Lawson's intended victim.

A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the McNeils will attempt to determine to what degree concert promoter Live Nation and concert host Darien Lake Theme Park is responsible for that punch.

The McNeils are seeking $150 million in damages.

The suit alleges other factors that contributed to McNeil's injuries, said attorney Donald Chiari, but at the heart of it is how Live Nation security handled Lawson after the decision had been made to eject him from the venue for being drunk and disorderly.

Lawson was taken to the concert venue gate (possibly the one known as South PAC), but the guard never completed the task of actually getting Lawson out the gate, Chiari said. If he had, there were security guards in place to keep him out of the venue.

There also would have been a fence between Lawson and the VIP gate, where McNeil was exiting the concert with Pamela.

While a Live Nation guard was taking Lawson to the gate, a person he had been in a confrontation with Lawson inside the venue was supposed to be leaving through the VIP gate.

That person wasn't McNeil.

With Lawson allegedly left unattended for a couple of minutes inside the concert venue, the 34-year-old Canadian ran over to the VIP gate, and in a case of mistaken identity, cold-cocked McNeil.

The punch delivered to a person he had no prior contact with is a fact Lawson admitted during his sentencing Aug. 18. He's currently serving a year in the Genesee County Jail on the assault charge.

McNeil was knocked out before his head hit the ground. He was in a coma by the time he arrived via Mercy Flight to ECMC and has required several surgeries and extended hospitalization since. He has suffered loss of speech; ability to read and write; and comprehend what people are saying; and the ability to walk.

The same security guard who allegedly failed to get Lawson out of the gate was one of the first on scene after the punch was thrown, Chiari said.

"The guard got there and said, 'Oh, my God, I was just throwing you out two-and-half minutes ago,' Chiari said, "that's literally in his statement."

It's not unusual -- as anybody knows who regularly reads arrest reports from concerts at Darien Lake -- for patrons to be ejected from the venue and then later try to return. There are frequent trespassing arrests at Darien Lake concerts. 

Chiari said the unique issue in this case is the alleged failure to follow through on getting a disorderly patron out of the concert venue so other patrons are properly protected.

"No premise's owner or any security is an absolute insurer of safety of third parties, but they still have to do what is reasonable," Chiari said.

The suit names as defendants Live Nation in its at least 10 various incorporations, Darien Lake (by three different corporate names), Craig Lawson, and the company, Contemporary Services Corporation, Live Nation contracts with for security personnel and training.

Not named in the suit is Kid Rock or the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

Chiari said there is no plan to include the county in the suit.  

Live Nation pays for Sheriff's deputies to provide law enforcement on concert nights, but deputies do not enter the concert venue and from Chiari's description of events, it appears everything leading up to the punch happened within the venue.

The Washington Post recently published a story about the growing rowdiness and disorderly behavior at country music concerts nationally. It's not just a Darien Lake thing. Many contemporary music acts seem to encourage excessive drinking and concerts are often preceded by tailgate parties were copious amounts of booze are consumed.

The suit also names as co-defendants SMG Food and Beverage, and Aramark Sports and Entertainment Services, stating those companies were the vendors of alcoholic beverages the night of the concert. The suit alleges the vendors unlawfully sold alcohol to an already intoxicated Craig Lawson.

This afternoon, The Batavian requested comment from both Live Nation and Darien Lake and have not as of yet received a response.

UPDATE: This from a spokesperson with Live Nation: "We cannot comment on pending litigation."

UPDATE: We received this from Darien Lake: "Darien Lake confirms that on August 29, a civil lawsuit was filed by the family of Jason McNeil. As a matter of policy, we cannot comment on pending litigation." - Rod Rankin, General Manager, Darien Lake

Friday, September 12, 2014 at 11:19 am

BHS student arrested on disorderly conduct charge

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A 17-year-old student was accused of causing a disturbance at Batavia High School earlier this week and as a result was arrested by police.

The youth was allegedly disruptive, yelling and using abusive and obscene language while in the presense of the student body in the cafeteria at lunch.

He was charged with disorderly conduct.

The incident was reported at noon, Tuesday.

The arrest is the first reported at the school this year.

Last year, working with Batavia PD, school officials decided to take a more law enforcement-oriented approach with disruptive behavior, especially fighting. The approach greatly reduced problem incidents at the school, officials said.

Previously: The potential for arrest has dramatically reduced fighting at BHS, school officials say

Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Career con man still owes $15K in restitution locally

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Earlier today, we told you about Schoen LaBombard, the former Batavia resident who bilked several local businesses out of more than $27,000 with a phony story about a chance to drive a bobsled in the Olympics.

This afternoon, we learned that LaBombard still owes more than $15,000 in restitution from the 1994 conviction.

Because of the outstanding restitution, Judge Eric Adams signed a warrant for LaBombard's arrest April 21.

Adams, normally a Family Court judge, is handling the case because Robert C. Noonan was the county prosecutor in 1994.

The warrant may be the one a Florida TV station said is the reason LaBombard is being held by authorities in Daytona Beach after he allegedly pulled a scam to get free food, a free hotel room and $500 by impersonating a Navy Seal.

The ruse was uncovered after LaBombard, who was going by the name Alex Seppi, broke his leg and hotel employees found his correct ID in his hotel room.

No word on when LaBombard might be returned to Genesee County custody. He allegedly hasn't made a restitution payment since 2007.

Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 3:02 pm

BREAKING: Child molester Sean Vickers sentenced to 107 years in prison

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Sean Vickers, convicted at trial of molesting five children in Batavia, was sentenced today by Judge Robert C. Noonan to 107 years in state prison.

"I agree with the prosecution in this case," Noonan said. "I see no reason to impose anything less than the maximum available terms under the law."

Vickers received 25 years each on his conviction of the first four counts of the indictment against him and a seven-year sentence on count five, plus a couple of decades of post-release supervision (at which point he would be 152 years old if still alive).

On July 31, a jury found Vickers guilty of two counts of sodomy in the first degree, two counts of criminal sexual act in the first degree and sexual abuse in the first degree.

One of the child victims, who was in court today for the sentencing, had Det. Kevin Czora read a statement for him prior to sentencing.

"Sean came to my house and took me to fun places and bought us candy," read the boy's statement. "I called him Uncle Sean. He hurt me. I want him to go to prison for a lifetime."

The mother of a victim also had a statement read by Erin Martin of the Child Advocacy Center.

She said that Vickers hurt her family and her children tremendously.

"Sean did not take into account what he was doing or how it would effect the kids," read the statement. "I don't think you should take into account Sean's feeling in his sentence, because he was only thinking of himself when he hurt my son."

In August, Vickers accepted a plea deal in Niagara County for molesting the same three boys. He entered a guilty plea to three felonies in exchange for a 20-year sentencing cap.

The 20 years, once imposed at a Sept. 26 hearing, and will be served concurrently with the Genesee County sentence. It will also stand even if the Genesee County conviction is overturned on appeal.

Public Defender Jerry Ader indicated in court today that an appeal will be filed and did not make a statement regarding sentencing on his client's behalf.

Vickers also made no statement.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman noted that the plea offer extended to Vickers in Genesee County before the trial would have offered a 40-year prison term, but Vickers turned it down.

"If the crimes he's convicted of are not horrific enough, we know he sexually assaulted at least five other boys," Friedman said. "We know that's not all. We know that he has a history of pedophilia that goes back decades, literally decades. There are victims of his crimes who have come forward that occurred so far back that they can't be prosecuted under the statute of limitations."

Noonan said the mother of one of his victims from Monroe County was in the courtroom today because she's been tracking Vickers for 24 years.

"She's here to see the justice is finally done," Friedman said.

Noonan opened his brief statement about the 107-year sentence he was about to impose by saying, "This case is the worst one I've ever had. I've been in the criminal justice system for 40 years both as a prosecutor and a judge and I've never had anybody who has been prolific a predator as you have been Mr. Vickers."

Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 9:45 am

Law and Order: Pratt Road resident accused of stealing neighbors checks, cashing them

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Michael Robert Sigl, 22, of Pratt Road, Batavia, is charged with five counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, 2nd. Sigl allegedly stole some of a neighbor's checks, forged them and cashed them at banks in the City of Batavia. He was jailed on $10,000 bail.

Jamie Renae Wilkins, 37, of Route 31, Holley, is charged with unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, 3rd, and driving a vehicle with a suspended registration. Wilkins was stopped for an alleged traffic violation at 5:08 p.m. Monday on Route 77 in Alabama by Deputy Joseph Corona. Wilkins was jailed on $250 cash bail or $500 bond.

Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 9:14 am

Former local con man accused of impersonating Navy Seal in Daytona Beach

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A Batavia man who once scammed local business owners out of more than $27,000 was allegedly caught this week in Daytona Beach, Fla., impersonating a Navy Seal.

The alleged scam enabled Schoen LaBombard to enjoy free meals, a free hotel room and a $500 loan.

It was only after LaBombard broke his leg while frolicking with his new friends that the scam was uncovered by hotel employees.  

The folks in Daytona Beach knew him as Alex Seppi, but while he was in the hospital, employees entered his hotel room to secure personal items on his behalf and found an identification with his real name.

There was apparently another person assisting LaBombard in the alleged scam. At one point, a manager spoke with a person who identified himself as Seppi's Navy Seal commander.

At this point, LaBombard is not facing charges in Daytona Beach, but he is in custody on a warrant out of New York (the jurisdiction is not specified in this WESH story). 

For the 1994-era scam in Batavia, LaBombard was required to pay restitution. According to news reports in 2004, he paid about $7,000, but there was still $20,000 outstanding. It's unclear if he ever completed payments.

In that case, LaBombard represented himself as a promising bobsled driver with Olympic dreams and convinced local business owners to donate money to help him pursue his dream. It turned out, he was not on the Olympic bobsled team, though he was a member of the federation.

His criminal history includes stints in prison for forgery and grand larceny, with convictions in Essex County and Albany County.

In Albany, he was once accused of impersonating a police officer to scam a prostitute out of money. According to another news report on that arrest (no link available), he was also accused of stealing more than $8,000 from business partners in the Albany area. He also accused of burglarizing his grandmother's house and stealing checks.

In 2012, the Albany Times Union ran a laudatory story about LaBombard about how he was turning his life around, getting off drugs, and leading a casting call for a reality TV series called "The Comebacks."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Trial date set in Dashawn Butler case

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

It looks like Dashawn Butler will get his day in court.

So far, Butler has turned down a plea offer to reduce the top charge against him from a Class C violent felony to a Class D violent felony, so today, Judge Robert C. Noonan set a trial date for Butler of Nov. 17.

Butler still has until Oct. 8 to accept the plea, under Noonan's plea-cut off rules.

The Batavia resident is charged with criminal use of a firearm, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, and attempted assault, 1st, also a Class C violent felony. He's also accused of firing a weapon at another person Sept. 27 on State Street.

Noonan ruled against the defense on a motion to have the charges dismissed. Defense attorney Thomas Burns argued in a hearing two weeks ago that Batavia PD didn't exercise due diligence in trying to locate Butler after a warrant was issued for his arrest in October. That lack of due diligence violated Butler's right to a speedy trial, Burns said. Noonan found that there was not enough evidence that BPD did not try to locate Butler in a timely manner.

The plea offer from District Attorney Lawrence Friedman was unconditional, meaning Noonan would have all the sentencing options available for a person convicted of a Class D violent felony, including a lengthy prison term.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Le Roy town supervisor given chance to avoid further prosecution on criminal charges

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy

Le Roy's town supervisor, arrested a little more than a year ago on a harassment charge stemming from a dispute with a neighboring property owner, has been granted an opportunity to have the criminal charges dismissed.

Known as "adjudication in contemplation of dismissal" (commonly, ACD), the determination does not include a guilty plea, but does require Supervisor Steve Barbeau to avoid criminal contact with the police for six months.

Barbeau's case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Will Zickl in Bethany Town Court.

While Barbeau was originally arrested on a charge of harassment, the criminal charge was later upgraded to include third-degree assault because of the extent of the injuries suffered by the victim, Peter McQuillen.

ACDs are common in misdemeanor cases involving defendants with a long history of avoiding trouble with the law.

As part of the plea deal, Barbeau was required to pay restitution to McQuillen in advance for medical expenses and lost wages.

The agreement was finalized last month, Zickl said.

The confrontation 13 months ago on McQuillen's property behind Barbeau's residence in the Village of Le Roy stemmed from a long-standing feud related to McQuillen trying to develop the 13-acre parcel.  

Barbeau was part of a successful lawsuit that killed McQuillen's "Robbins Nest" development.

At the time of the confrontation, McQuillen was constructing a red storage shed as close to Barbeau's property line as possible.

The construction of the shed, as well as McQuillen's construction and planned construction of duplexes in the subdivision known as Presidential Acres, are the subject of a second lawsuit that is still pending.

Barbeau is not a party to the second lawsuit, though most of his neighbors are.

Previously:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Jacquetta Simmons shows up in court without attorney or financial statements on restitution request

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Jacquetta Simmons

On a follow up to her request for smaller monthly restitution payments, Jacquetta Simmons showed up without the two things Judge Robert C. Noonan said she needed today: An attorney and a certified financial statement.

Noonan lectured her briefly on the need to have a proper financial statement, said that he wants to get restitution payments started in this case, and then gave her until Sept. 16 to get her documents together.

And perhaps show up with an attorney.

What Simmons arrived with in court today was a handwritten statement on a blue-lined piece of notebook paper.

"Ms. Simmons, what we need from you is a sworn statement of income and expenses for you and each person in your household," Noonan said. "We need an itemization of all the things you've done while looking for work, not just your conclusionary statement saying you can't find work."

When her case was called, Simmons ambled to the defense table dressed in faded blue jeans and a white T-shirt holding her piece of paper.

Asked about her attorney, Simmons told Noonan that she was under the impression that Key would be in court with her today, and that she spoke with Key after her Aug. 26 court appearance.

In June, the Buffalo News published a report about Key moving from the Buffalo area. His Web site says his office is located in Buffalo.

So when Simmons said she had spoke with him since August, Noonan expressed some surprise.

"Really?" Noonan said. "I thought he left town before that. Perhaps he kept the same cell phone."

Noonan told Simmons she could appear Sept. 16 with or without an attorney. "It's your choice," he said.

Simmons is under court order to make $100 monthly payments in restitution for $2,000 in medical expenses to Grace Souzzi, whom she punched in the face Christmas Eve 2011 after Souzzi asked for a receipt for items Simmons and her brother had purchased earlier at Walmart.

Because she's not working, Simmons has asked that the amount of monthly payments be reduced.

After the brief hearing, Simmons turned from the bench and walked away, mumbling something under her breath.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 8:24 am

Law and Order: Oakfield resident accused of growing marijuana

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, alexander, corfu, crime, Darien, Oakfield, Pavilion, pembroke, Stafford

Daniel C. Frey, 50, of Oakfield, is charged with unlawful growing of cannabis and criminal possession of marijuana, 4th. Frey was arrested by State Police at 12:57 p.m. Friday on Klossen Road, Alabama. No further details released.

Jason A. Perry-Murray, 20, of Jackson Street, Batavia, was arrested on warrant for an unpaid parking ticket.

Juan A. Roman, 36, of Portland Avenue, Rochester, is charged with criminal contempt. Roman is accused of violating a stay away order of protection.

Caitlin A. Hayes, 26, of Dellinger Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for failure to appear on a parking ticket. Hayes was arrested following police contact on an unrelated incident.

Elliot R. Sandoval, 38, of Spencer Court, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Sandoval is accused of kicking another person in the back while that person was walking down a flight of stairs.

Joseph J. Kostanciak, 24, of unspecified address, is charged with petit larceny. Kostanciak is accused of shoplifting at Walmart.

Sanders A. Kelsey, 27, of Batavia, and Michelle L. Franks, 33, of Batavia, are charged with petit larceny. Kelsey and Franks are accused of shoplifting at Walmart.

Carol A. Bartucca, 55, of Stafford, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Bartucca was stopped at 10:16 p.m. Saturday on Horseshoe Lake Road by a trooper.

Jeremy D. Eck, 27, of Hornell, is charged with DWI, driving while impaired by drugs and unlawful possession of marijuana. Eck was stopped by State Police at 10:27 p.m. Sunday on Route 20 and Browns Mill Road, Alexander.

Lawrence E. Rutkowski, 50, of Orchard Park, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Rutkowski was stopped at 12:11 a.m. Monday on Route 20, Alexander, by State Police.

Brett F. Dieter, 36, of Basom, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing. Dieter was arrested following an investigation of an alleged incident at 8:10 p.m. Sept. 1 on Lewiston Road, Alabama.

Michael R. Sigl, 21, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny and possession of a hypodermic instrument. Sigl was arrested by State Police following an incident report at 3:32 p.m. Sunday. No further details released. 

Tyler E. Deleys, 20, of Corfu, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th, petit larceny and possession of a hypodermic instrument. Deleys was arrested on Hartshorn Road, Pembroke, by State Police following a report of an incident at 3:32 p.m. Sunday. No further details released.

Steven R. Ryan, 36, of unspecified address, is charged with DWI and refusal to take breath test. Ryan was stopped by State Police at 10:10 p.m. Sunday on Route 77, Pembroke.

Lindsey N. Burdick, 32, of Pavilion, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Burdick was stopped by State Police at 11:29 p.m. Sunday on Route 20, Alexander.

Todd L. Frocione, 50, of Syracuse, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Frocione was stopped by State Police at 11:51 p.m. Sunday on Route 20, Alexander.

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