Friday, May 27, 2005

First Summer N ews

ROUNDUP. Last Friday, after chases on foot around west Catskill, State and local police rounded up 17 Mexican men who just taken part in what appeared to be a forged-check-cashing racket. The suspects were immediately arraigned by Village Justice Veronica Kosich, on charges of grand larceny, possession of forged instruments (counterfeit paychecks), grand larceny (stealing by means of cashing those forged checks), conspiracy to commit those crimes and, in three cases (one involving 4 foot 9 inch “Raul Flores”) resisting arrest. Then they were released into the hands of Westchester County lawmen, who had been trailing the suspects—traveling north from Elmsford NY in two vans and a car, with license plates from three different States—and had alerted local GreeneLand authorities. Action here centered on the Cenco service station on Route 9W at Maple Avenue. According to Catskill police chief Roger Masse, the suspects parked their vehicles just out of sight of the gasoline pumps. Two of them got out, donned blue work shirts, smeared dirt on the shirts, then walked to the station and presented what appeared to be weekly paychecks from nearby Casings Inc., the tire recycling business that, along with Haines Garage, is run out of the former Conrail depot. The suspects—all Mexican nationals bearing false identification, evidently--were exploiting an arrangement whereby Casings employees regularly cash Friday paychecks at the station. And after the first two visitors cashed their ostensible paychecks, they walked back to the parked vehicles, passed the work shirts on to another pair, who repeated the operation. Altogether, 16 supposed Casings paychecks were exchanged for $13,000. That performance took place under police observation. And as the suspected counterfeiters started to drive away, the observers closed in. They arrested some suspects without incident. But the men in one van, upon being stopped, fled on foot. They were captured after some strenuous chases (“my legs are still sore,” said Chief Masse five days later), during which nearby Catskill Middle School and High School were, as a precaution, locked down. After arrest and arraignment here, the suspects were turned over to Westchester police for transportation south, further charges, and incarceration. Yesterday, Westchester’s district attorney, Jeanine Pirro, held a news conference concerning the case. (The Associated Press report was published in The Daily Mail here on page one; and again—same report—on page two). The suspects, she said, had been under surveillance from the time, two weeks ago, when they rented three rooms in Elmsford’s Saw Mill River Motel. They had been targeted as a result of a tip from Department of Motor Vehicles officials who suspected the men of using forged documents in applications for drivers’ licenses. They were suspected of check-kiting operations up and down the Hudson River area and elsewhere in the country. They were suspected, indeed, of being involved in an international counterfeiting ring. Those suspicions allegedly were fortified when, upon procuring search warrants, police searched the suspects’ motel rooms and vehicles, where they found an abundance of counterfeit checks, false identification papers, and cash. How the alleged gang acquired a Casings Inc. paycheck for duplication, authorities said yesterday, had not been established.

IMMINENT. May 28 (Saturday). Bronck Museum opens 2005 season with exhibition “Revolutionary Times.” --Jazz pianist Bill Charlap performs at Windham Performing Arts Center , 8 pm. --May 28-29. 28th annual Irish Festival at Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural and Sports Centre in East Durham. Music galore (The Saw Doctors from the olde sod, 11 more bands) and much more. 634-2286.

SENTENCED to prison for at least two years, by County Judge George J. Pulver Jr, for arson: John Gallagher, former chief of Kiskatom Fire Department. Gallagher pleaded guilty to the felony and, according to District Attorney Terry J. Wilhelm, confessed to setting more fires than the one—torching a pickup truck, for insurance purposes--for which he was convicted. He reputedly set several fires and mobilized fellow volunteer firefighters to put them out.

HONORED. Dave Darling, GreeneLand’s lean, steadfast, garrulous senior State Police investigator, with Supervisor Recognition Award—first of its kind—at State Police Awards Day in Albany. --Trudy Merchant, of The Quarry Steakhouse, and Dan Frank, of Windham Mountain, as Business Woman and Business Man of the Year, by Greene County Chamber of Commerce, at Copper Tree Restaurant party on May 26th. (This event was reported twice, on page 2 and on facing page 3, in The Daily Mail). --The late George L. Cobb (1926-2004), GreeneLand’s Supreme Court Judge, at memorial service conducted by GreeneLand Bar Association, at The Point, Catskill, May 25th. --Jeannie and Clarence Soule of Jewett, by Gov. George Pataki, as New York Seniors of the Year. --Catskill’s Daily Mail, by New York Newspaper Publishers Association, for Distinguished Community Service, in form of a Deborah Travers/Christopher Smith series called “Aging Gracefully in Greene County,” and for Distinguished Business Reporting, in form of an Anthony D’Arcangelis feature “Bedding Company to Create 240 Jobs.” Those awards were given for from entries from papers in the under-10,000 circulation class. They were chosen over two rival candidates in the respective categories. That’s not an especially small number of candidates. Submissions in the Investigative Reporting category (for low-circulation papers) numbered 2; in Headline Writing, 4; in State Government Coverage, one.

INDICTED, SUSPENDED: Coxsackie Correctional Facility officer Barry Barizone, for perjury; and from work. He is charged with lying to a Federal grand jury about his dealings with, and on behalf of, reputed mobster Teddy Persico Jr of Saugerties. His suspension is based on suspicion of having unreported improper association with a parolee. Immediate circumstance of the case is a telephone conversation in which Persico told Barizone about being stopped for speeding, Barizone reportedly said he’d fix it, and the cops, who were bugging Persico, heard every word. That’s the story told (deftly), at any rate, by Brendan Lyons of the TimesUnion (5/21), and confirmed by the prison’s information office.

SCHOOL POLITICS. Recent balloting in GreeneLand’s various school districts showed substantial anxiety about costs (=taxes). In Cairo-Durham the proposed budget was voted down, by a narrow margin of 520-489—and thanks to a semi-literate Taxpayer Association media campaign. In some other districts, budgets as proposed by incumbent school boards won adoption by narrow margins: 461-398 in Catskill Central, 742-642 in Coxsackie-Athens , 596 to 549 in Greenville. But in the mountain-top districts of Windham-Ashland-Jewett and Hunter-Tannersville, voter support for proposed budgets (involving no additional taxes), was overwhelming. In the matter of electing school board members, meanwhile,three incumbents faced challengers and two were returned omfortably. They are Eric Johnson in Hunter-Tannersville (he beat serious challenger Cynthia Friedman by 375 votes to 251) and Joseph Garland in Coxsackie-Athens (735 votes, vs. 447 for Mike Petramale). In Cairo-Durham, in contrast, challenger Susan Kusminsky beat incumbent Lorraine Lewis, 354 votes to 306. Those figures are drawn from The Daily Freeman and The Daily Mail; but the Cairo-Durham case—the one instance of beating down a budget proposal—was covered in the latter a day late. In Catskill, meanwhile, the board elections were noteworthy for the spread of support. Since only four candidates sought to fill four vacancies, each was destined to win. But their margins of support ranged from 637 votes (for incumbent Vice-President Andrew Jones), through 581 for newcomer Karen Haas, 531 for incumbent Carol Schilansky, and 382 for Mike Battaglino. (In the Budget Newsletter for Catskill Central School District), aimed at the May 17 balloting, the name of bulky Mr Battaglino, on three occasions out of three, got shrunk to Battaglio).

HOT INVESTORS. Two Cairo-Durham students surpassed 380 contestants to win TimesUnion prize playing Stock Market Game. In 10 weeks August Freeman and Jasmine Ivery ran a hypothetical $100,000 in capital up to $114,076, according to a Daily Mail story (5/8). Reporter Deborah Travers calls that “a more than 18% return.” So does the author of a 5/11 Daily Mail.editorial. Go figure.

CORRIGENDA. Last issue of Seeing Greese misspells name of Day House host Bob Hoven (not Koven) and in same item alludes to “guest” where the right word was guests. Also wacky were some type face and size variations. Our copy editor has been admonished. But the editorial board decided to leave the Greese.

WHA?? “Greene County Sheriff Richard Hussey is alerting homeowners, especially seniors, to be on the lookout for con artists who pose as contractors who are out to rip you off.” Daily Mail, 5/20/05.

1 comment:

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