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County Legislature Divided Over Opposition of Power NY Act

OSWEGO, NY – Members of the Oswego County Legislature agree that the Power NY Act of 2011 has some good points as well as some bad.

What they couldn’t agree on Thursday night was whether to oppose it.

It was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in July; the intent was to increase power production and lead to new investment all across the state.

However, one part in particular has municipalities up in arms.

The act creates a new state board that has the authority to ignore any local ordinance, law … or any local standard or requirement … if it finds that … such is unreasonably burdensome … on ratepayers whether located inside or outside of such municipality.

That would mean the state could come in and place wind turbines in Lake Ontario, even though the county voted last year to prohibit such a project, Legislator Shawn Doyle of Pulaski pointed out.

After a lengthy debate on the resolution, it was proposed to take out the part that said opposed to the Power NY Act of 2011 and replacing it with specific provision relating to the sitting of energy facilities and transmission lines which challenge home rule.

The resolution was amended. But then the legislators continued to debate the issue; resulting with the amendment being rescinded.

Legislators took two recesses in which the two caucuses further discussed the resolution.

Legislator Amy Tresidder of Oswego pointed out the act not only saves energy, it would save the taxpayers money and would create construction jobs.

“We can’t ignore that. It’s ridiculous that we would even think about it,” she said.

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler chastised the majority for trying to ram the resolution through.

“If this had been brought back to committee, the dialogue would have been good, concise and productive for the taxpayer. But no,” he said.

The childish games the legislature plays month after month only hurts the taxpayers, he said. “None of you even read this bill tonight; I’ll guarantee it, one or two of you,” he added. “We could have done something very good tonight. Instead you turned it into a childish game.”

Legislator Barb Brown and Jacob Mulcahey commended Doyle for bringing forth an amendment that everyone could agree on.

“But then suddenly, it disappeared again. And I am sorry,” she said. “I cannot support this (act) when it says the new board will have the authority to ignore any local ordinance, standards or requirements … I don’t think any town wants to be ignored!”

“This has already passed. This is already law. The ship has sailed,” Kunzwiler pointed out. “We could have took parts of this, that are good, and brought the case more strongly and advocated for the bad things to be taken out. We recognize that the whole bill is not flawed.  Now, saying the whole bill is bad – do you really think you did justice to this? It’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing.”

“It’s unfortunate that this has turned into a political football,” agreed Legislator Jim Karasek of Fulton.

There are parts of the bill that would assist people, he added.

“What are we doing here?” Mulcahey asked rhetorically. “We’re opposing saving the taxpayers dollars. We’re opposing cutting energy consumption. We’re opposing bringing potential jobs in here.”

Doyle said his opposition to wind power is that “the only works in the state is with heavy federal subsidies. It’s a big shell game.”

The crux of the county’s resolution is “to oppose another grab by a larger government entity of our home rule,” he said. The county wants to find ways to create jobs, but it wants to have a say about those things, “not just somebody in Long Island that doesn’t want to look at a power project off of Long Island Sound and says ‘Let’s stick it up there on Lake Ontario. They’ll take the 10 jobs and be grateful,’” he continued.

Every bill has good and bad parts, he noted.

“But (in this case) the bad outweighs the good,” he said. “So I support a memorializing resolution opposing the Power Act,” he said.

Finally, just before 9 p.m., Legislator Linda Lockwood called the question ending debate and forcing the vote.

The final vote was 19-6 in favor of opposing.

Governor’s People First Campaign Rolls Into Oswego

OSWEGO, NY – The state’s Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald rolled into the Port City Thursday afternoon to discuss Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s legislative priorities.

The governor’s People First initiative kicked off about three weeks ago in Syracuse.

McDonald addressed a large crowd in the Council Chambers at City Hall, many of whom were either city or county officials.

Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman greets the state's Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald

Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman greets the state's Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald

“Gov. Cuomo’s administration is all about the people,” she said following the presentation. “I will be spending plenty of time out in the field, out in the state, learning about the local issues and addressing the local concerns. It is also my job to know the bigger issues and be responsive to that, too.”

The governor feels very strongly that he was elected for three primary reasons, the commissioner said.

The first is to get the economy up and running again.

Cleaning up Albany – ethics reform – is number two.

And third is restoring the legacy of social reform.

“We are off to a great start; the passage of New York State’s budget, on time,” she said. “This year, the governor came in and said he wanted a budget on time, it’s what the people said, it’s what everybody around the state said.”

“The people have said to us, ‘get your house in order; pass the budget on time.’ And it was honest, balanced and on time,” she continued. “There was a single-minded focus to get it done.”

It closed a $10 million deficit without raising taxes or borrowing, she added. “But there is a lot more to be done.”

And that is why the governor launched the People First campaign.

When measured by assessed valuation of homes, the top 15 highest taxed counties are in New York State. That’s not a good thing, the commissioner said.

“One of the governor’s priorities is putting a cap on local property taxes. As long as we stay the tax capital of the nation our economy will not grow,” she said. “Even though our property taxes are high, I believe that we are headed in the right direction.”

Investing money (in education) doesn’t always lead to improved test scores, she pointed out.

“That is something else we need to address. When we look at the state overall, enrollment in our public schools has gone down by 4 percent. Total expenditures have gone up by 120 percent and supervisory staff has gone up by 34 percent,” she said. “The same way the governor has directed all of his commissioners to see how we can make things more efficient, he thinks it is time for the school districts around the state to do the same.”

New York is first in education spending; and it is 34th as far as results, McDonald said.

“We always thought we were the best. And, the fact that we are now 34th in results I don’t like that. That’s not a good way to prepare future generations for staying in this state. We need to turn that around,” she said.

The governor wants to cap property tax rates at 2 percent or CPI, whichever is lower. The rate could be higher but it would have to be put to a vote – and approved by 60 percent or more of the voters.

Counties are also looking for relief from mandates as well as property tax, she added.

In 1980, Massachusetts was the second most taxed state in the nation. It the instituted a tax cap. Now, it ranks 23rd.

The state's Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald delivers Gov. Cuomo's "People First" message to a crowd in Oswego City Hall on Thursday afternoon.

The state's Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald delivers Gov. Cuomo's "People First" message to a crowd in Oswego City Hall on Thursday afternoon.

“We have got to change the way we do business here in New York,” she said. “We’ve got to make sure people stay focused on performance, on excellence.”

Also on Cuomo’s agenda is ethics reform in Albany, the commissioner said.

“This, to me, is a no-brainer. People had faith in their elected officials (years ago). That doesn’t seem to be the case so much today,” she said.

New York has a “part-time” legislature, she explained, adding many of them have another line of business.

“But, it is important to know – who do they represent and how much are they being paid; is it a conflict when they are voting on something as legislators?” she said.

The legislators feel they should police themselves, she noted. However, Gov. Cuomo said this isn’t an “Albany thing” it is what the people say, we are a state, and it should be what the people want, the commissioner said.

“We want an independent monitor,” she said.

The last item on his agenda is social reform, social progress.

“New York had always been the first in the nation in dealing with social issues,” McDonald said. “We’re not first in the nation any more. That has to change.”

Among the issues the governor wants to address here includes same sex marriages.

“It is about equality. It is about civil rights, access to health insurance and pension benefits, and more,” she said. “At one time, as many of us may know, it was illegal for inter-racial couples to marry. Thank goodness we’re not there any more.”

New York is lagging behind other states in this area, she pointed out.

The feedback to the governor’s campaign has been tremendous, she said, adding that the governor’s approval rating is around 71 percent currently.

“I think it’s working,” McDonald said. “We don’t have a magic wand to wave and make everything alright again overnight. It’s going to take some time and that is why we’re going to the people. We want the input from the people to help make this state great again.”

“The governor’s message is simple. If we demonstrate to the residents of the state that when we put an agenda out, we can achieve it. The momentum will continue and we will return to becoming the Empire State,” she continued.

It is up to everyone to be involved, she added.

OHS Senior Attends Governor’s State Of The State Address

Mackenzie Dunsmoor

Mackenzie Dunsmoor

OSWEGO, NY – Oswego High School senior Mackenzie Dunsmoor was selected by Assemblyman Will Barclay to represent Oswego County at the governor’s State of the State address.

She was joined on stage by a single student from each New York State county to represent the future of New York State.

Joining Ms. Dunsmoor are Superintendent of Schools Bill Crist, Assemblyman Barclay and Oswego High School Principal Brian Hartwell.

Confident Cuomo Taking Nothing For Granted

OSWEGO, NY – Andrew Cuomo visited Oswego Thursday afternoon with a comfortable lead in the NYS gubernatorial race. However, he’s not ready to declare victory just yet. The voters have to go to the polls, he said.

“It’s all about you,” the candidate told a standing-room-only crowd of local, county and state officials and other supporters packed into the banquet room at Bridie Manor.

NYS gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo, right, greets former Oswego County Legislator Lee B. Walker at Bridie Manor on Thursday.

NYS gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo, right, greets former Oswego County Legislator Lee B. Walker at Bridie Manor on Thursday. (photo provided by Harrison Wilde)

Cuomo says he wants to get to a place where we stop talking about yesterday and the good old days – and start talking about the future and the reasons to stay (in New York) rather than the reasons to leave.

Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman described Cuomo as “someone who knows who we are and what we need to make our state government move forward and make it work for all of us.”

He urged everyone to make sure they get to the polls and vote on Tuesday.

Bob Duffy, lieutenant governor candidate (and Rochester Mayor), said “We can’t afford to have someone other than Andrew Cuomo as our next governor.”

He also encouraged people to get out and vote.

If voters go to the polls and elect Cuomo, “The state will be moving as fast as that beautiful river outside,” Duffy said, referring to the Oswego River rushing past the restaurant.

“Many of these problems in Upstate New York we have been battling year after year. How long have we been talking about jobs leaving New York State? How long have we been talking about young people leaving New York State because they don’t think there is a future here? How long have we been talking about property taxes going up and up and up?” Cuomo said.

The state government has to get its act together and work for the people of the state, he added.

“That’s what this election is all about,” Cuomo said. “You’re going to have a state government of confidence … a state government that you can be proud of where you don’t have to open up a newspaper and worry about another scandal in Albany.”

“You know what I hear all across this state that is a heartbreaker? People will come up and they say, ‘We just don’t trust the state government anymore.’ That word is everything. People just don’t trust the state government. And, it’s not like I can look at them and say, ‘You are wrong.’ They happen to be right!” Cuomo continued. “The state government betrayed their trust.”

Job one will be restoring the trust, so people believe in the government once again, so businesses believe in the government again, he said.

It won’t be done overnight, he admitted.

“It’s going to take months of action where it is about deeds and not words, and it’s about results,” Cuomo explained. “We’re going to bring confidence. We’re going to bring integrity and we’re goring to bring performance. You’re going to see a legislature that is actually going to perform and is going to be cleaned up!”

He received a loud ovation when he announced he would have zero tolerance for waste, fraud or ethics violations.

“You break the law, you break the law. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or Republican, I don’t care if you’re short or if you’re tall. (As Attorney General) from the sitting governor at the time, we called it straight … I’m going to keep doing that as governor of New York State,” he said.

“And then we’re going to get our state’s fiscal house in order. We’re going to close the budget gap, we’re going to close the deficit – and we’re going to do it without raising taxes,” he vowed. “Raising taxes is the worst thing that we can do right now.”

If you’re the highest taxed state in the nation, businesses are going to look elsewhere, he said, adding there is no reason why New York is taxed so much.

“It’s only because the government in Albany didn’t want to do what every family did, what every business did in this state which is when the economy turns you have to tighten your belt and do more with less,” he said.

There is a universal economic equation – you can only spend what you make, he said. When the income drops, expenses drop, he added.

“There are only two groups of people that are immune from this universal economic equation. One are my three daughters. The second are the politicians in Albany. And, by the way, I’m making more progress with my daughters than with the politicians,” he said to another loud ovation. “You can’t tax your way out of it. You can’t say to the families of New York, ‘I want more taxes!’”

Property taxes are worse than state taxes, he continued. It used to be could you afford your mortgage – now it is can you afford your property taxes, he pointed out.

“I actually believe it takes a crisis to bring about change. We have a crisis, we really have a crisis! And Bob and I are going to use that crisis to bring about change in the state,” Cuomo vowed. “That’s our plan in general. But, before we get to January, we have one little detail we have to address, which is next Tuesday. We are taking nothing for granted. I feel good about the campaign, about the way it’s going; especially over the past few weeks because the positions have clarified.”

“The more our opponent speaks, frankly, the better we do,” Cuomo said. “The more they talk, the more clear it is that their views don’t represent the people of the state of New York.”

It all comes down to Tuesday, Cuomo told the crowd, and added “Tuesday comes down to you. You know who’s going to start change? The person in the mirror is going to start change; it starts with you.”

Fulton Cooperates With State Pension Investigation

The city of Fulton has given the state Attorney General’s office the records requested as part of the office’s investigation into alleged pension padding.

“We’ve got everything we could get for him and we sent it to him,” said Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward, referring to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo this week.  “We haven’t heard any more.”

Cuomo announced recently a widening of his office’s investigation of public employee pensions.  He said that it could possibly be illegal for an employee to work sharply higher amounts of overtime in his final years on the job in order to create a significant increase in his pension.

Cuomo asked for overtime and pension data from Fulton, along with the city of Oneida and town of Manlius.

Woodward recently pushed back against Cuomo’s stand, saying that if Cuomo really wanted to protect taxpayers, all he had to do was “change the damn law.”

Woodward argues that state pension law allows workers to increase their pensions by working lots of overtime.  The problem would be solved, he said, if pensions were only based on a worker’s base salary, not on his salary plus overtime.

He also said that local governments are at a disadvantage when it comes to trying to make changes to union contracts.  The truism is that once a right is granted in a contract, it’s almost impossible to get it out.

Fulton spends nearly $700,000 on overtime for its police and fire departments.  Taxpayers do not pay all of that; some police department overtime for special projects, such as DWI checkpoints, quality of life patrols and aggressive driving efforts, is paid for through grants.

But much of the city’s overtime relates to contract clauses mandating a minimum number of firefighters and police officers to be on duty at any given time.

The situation is particularly acute in the fire department because firefighters work 24 hour days.  That means that if a firefighter calls in sick, takes a vacation , or is out with an injury, his replacement gets 24 hours of overtime per day.

Prior coverage and resources:

Att’y General: 57 Oswego County Sex Offenders Booted From Social Websites

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Electronic Securing and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP) law he authored has now resulted in the removal of accounts associated with at least 4,336 registered sex offenders from major social networking Web sites operating in the United States. Additionally, Cuomo is sending letters to 14 Web sites that primarily cater to children, urging them to provide further protections against the threat of sexual predators online by screening their member lists using e-STOP data.

Cuomo’s office said that 57 registered sex offenders listed as living in Oswego County have been booted off Facebook, MySpace and 13 other social networking sites because of his office’s campaign.

At the end of 2009, Attorney General Cuomo announced that Facebook and MySpace removed 5,385 accounts linked to 3,533 sexual predators from their rolls. Cuomo today announced that an additional 6,336 online profiles linked to approximately 803 additional New York state registered sex offenders have been removed from popular social networking sites. Attorney General Cuomo’s e-STOP measure has now resulted in the removal of 11,721 profiles associated with 4,336 dangerous sexual predators registered in New York.

“New York is once again leading the way in ensuring that social networking Web sites use the data that is now available, thanks to the e-STOP law, to keep kids safe,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “So far, thousands of sexual predators who had opened thousands of accounts have been purged from social networking sites. I am now taking this important protection a step further. I am calling on sites that specifically cater to children to screen users to reduce the threat posed by dangerous sexual predators.”

In December, Cuomo announced that Facebook and MySpace removed accounts associated with a combined total of 3,533 registered New York state sex offenders from their sites. Shortly thereafter, 13 additional social networking sites, including those owned by Google, Yahoo! and AOL, agreed to use e-STOP to purge sex offenders. Cuomo also called on Friendster, Buzznet and eSpin to commit to using the list. These social networking Web sites have successfully removed hundreds of accounts tied to registered sex offenders with Cuomo’s law:

* MyLife/formerly Reunion.com – 2,001 offenders (2,100 accounts)
* Tagged – 854 offenders (950 accounts)
* hi5 – 169 offenders (575 accounts)
* BlackPlanet – 114 offenders (570 accounts)
* Bebo/AOL -253 offenders (542 accounts)
* Flixster – 441 offenders (508 accounts)
* Flickr/Yahoo -343 offenders (448 accounts)
* Friendster – 255 offenders (271 accounts)
* eSpin – 103 offenders (120 accounts)
* Orkut/Google – 62 offenders (113 accounts)
* Stickam – 102 offenders (109 accounts)
* Buzznet – 13 offenders (18 accounts)
* Fotolog – 10 offenders (12 accounts)

Along with Facebook and MySpace the two largest social networking Web sites, this sweep constitutes the overwhelming majority of these types of sites operating in the United States.

Additionally, Attorney General Cuomo calls on popular Web sites that cater to children to screen their users. Although these sites have some safeguards in place, the Attorney General believes they should add to those measures by screening their rolls using e-STOP information. These sites include:

* AllyKatzz
* BarbieGirls
* Build-a-Bearville
* Club Penguin
* Girlsense
* Neopets
* Secretbuilders
* Stardoll
* Supersecret
* Teen Second Life
* Toontown
* Tootsville
* Webkinz
* Whyville

e-STOP was passed unanimously by the New York State Assembly and Senate and went into law in 2008. Authored by Attorney General Cuomo, it is the first law of its kind requiring convicted sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses and other online identifiers with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services’ (DCJS) New York State Sex Offender Registry. That information is then made available to social networking sites. In total, the law:

* Requires that sex offenders register all of their Internet accounts and identifiers (e-mail addresses and designations used for chat, instant messaging, social networking, or other similar Internet communication) with DCJS.
* Authorizes DCJS to release state sex offender Internet identifiers to social networking sites and certain other online services to prescreen or remove sex offenders from using the site’s services and notify law enforcement authorities and other government officials of potential violations of law and threats to public safety.
* Requires, as a condition of probation or parole, mandatory restrictions on a sex offender’s access to the Internet where the offender’s victim was a minor, the Internet was used to commit the offense, or the offender was designated a level 3 (highest level) offender. Such offenders would be banned from accessing social networking Web sites, accessing pornographic materials, communicating with anyone for the purpose of promoting sexual relations with a minor, and communicating, in most circumstances, with anyone under the age of 18.

According to DCJS, as of February 1, 2010, there are 29,976 registered sex offenders on file in New York (11,197 level 1 offenders, 10,686 level 2 offenders, 7,490 level 3 offenders, and 603 pending). 8,606 of these offenders have reported either a screen name or email address. In the U.S., there are approximately 627,000 registered sex offenders.

Laura Ahearn, Executive Director for Parents for Megan’s Law, said, “Attorney General Cuomo deserves plaudits creating a measure that has effectively applied many important aspects of Megan’s Law to the Internet. We join him in calling on all remaining sites, especially those that cater to kids, to adopt e-STOP. We must continue to make sure the law is on the side of children and families as predators seek new ways to cause harm.

Edward Suk, New York Executive Director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said, “Attorney General Cuomo’s leadership and foresight in putting forth measures to keep children safe online has delivered proven results. We were proud to endorse e-STOP when it was first proposed, and we are proud to stand with him today in the wake of its success and promise of providing further protections to our children.”

Joe Farrell, Interm Executive Director of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said, “Attorney General Cuomo’s track record of taking bold steps to make the Internet a safer place speaks for itself, and today’s announcement urging sites that are popular with children is another example of his tenacity. We are fortunate to have him as our Attorney General and look forward to continuing to work with him to ensure safeguards to protect children are put in place.”

Attorney General Cuomo has made Internet safety and consumer protection a priority of his office:

* In 2008 every major Internet Service Provider including Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, AOL, Sprint, Time Warner Cable, and Cablevision agreed to block access to child porn Newsgroups, a major supplier of illegal images, and also to purge their servers of child pornography Web sites.
* In 2007, Cuomo reached a deal with Facebook to enforce new safeguards aimed at protecting its network members, especially children and adolescents, from sexual predators, obscene content, and harassment.
* Last week, Cuomo announced a major investigation into 22 popular online businesses for deceptively linking unsuspecting consumers to fee-based membership programs that siphon money from credit and debit accounts under the guise of discount offers
* In 2009, Cuomo reached a $500,000 settlement with social networking site Tagged.com for misappropriating the contacts lists and identities of its members and from sending out millions of deceptive and unsolicited promotional emails
* In 2007, Cuomo’s Office, passed a new law that affords online consumers the same protections as those who make purchases over the phone or through the mail

The Attorney General’s e-STOP initiative is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Karen A. Geduldig under the supervision Special Deputy Chief of Staff Mitra Hormozi.

Attorney General’s Smart Seniors Program Comes To Oswego

Friday October 9, 2009 2:00 PM

A representative from Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo’s Office will be speaking at the Oswego seniors at the Bishop Commons on consumer fraud issues as a part of Cuomo’s statewide Smart Seniors Program.

Juanita Williams, Assistant Attorney General from Cuomo’s Syracuse Office, will inform participants how to best avoid consumer scams that frequently target seniors, such as sweepstakes, mail orders, and identity theft. This presentation will also offer information on the kinds of services Attorney General Cuomo’s Office makes available to seniors and will explain how seniors can best utilize these resources.

Members of the public are invited and encouraged to attend this event.

This event will be held at Bishop Commons, 4 Burkle St., Oswego, NY 13126

Attorney General Cuomo’s Office Brings Smart Seniors Program To Pulaski

Tuesday, August 4, 2009, 11:30 AM

A representative from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office will be speaking to the Springbrook Seniors on consumer fraud issues as a part of Cuomo’s statewide Smart Seniors Program. Juanita Perez Williams, Assistant Attorney General from Cuomo’s Syracuse Office, will inform participants how to best avoid consumer scams that frequently target seniors, such as sweepstakes, mail orders, and identity theft.

Members of the public are invited and encouraged to attend this event.

The event will be held at:

Springbrook Senior Center

4920 North Jefferson Street

Pulaski, NY 13142

CNY Drug Bust Nets Alleged “Key Leader” From Oswego County

Provided by the Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced today the indictment of 15 individuals involved in an alleged narcotics distribution ring where cocaine was transported from the Bronx and sold throughout the Central New York region.

The case involved the seizure of 12 pounds of cocaine worth $500,000, two revolvers, two shotguns, $26,000 in cash, drug paraphernalia, ammunition, and two vehicles.

Today’s indictment is the result of a multi-agency investigation led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) known as “Operation Blackjack.” The allegations included two main players of the drug ring who bought cocaine from suppliers in the Bronx and transported the drugs via car to Central New York to sell to mid-level dealers for distribution in Onondaga, Oswego, Oneida, and Madison counties.

“The impact of illegal drugs and guns on our communities is extensive and widespread,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “It is the goal of my Upstate Guns, Gangs, and Drugs Initiative to intercept the flow of drugs before they infect our neighborhoods. The recent takedown of several drug rings throughout Central and Upstate New York in past months proves that our formula of partnering with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies is a successful model.”

One of the key players in the alleged distribution network, Antwan Lockhart, of N. Jay Street, Rome, was arrested December 23, 2007 when his car was stopped on Route 81 in Tully as he was transporting cocaine from the Bronx. At the scene, 4.5 pounds of cocaine were seized. An additional 2 pounds were taken from Lockhart’s stash house on Midler Ave, Syracuse, and .67 ounces of cocaine were found in another vehicle registered in Lockhart’s name. Lockhart pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, for which he received a nine year prison sentence, three year post-release supervision, and forfeited two cars.

The other alleged key leader in the drug distribution network is Edward N. Lockhart, 30, of Caughdenoy Road, Hastings (last known address). As part of the investigation, law enforcement seized 5 ounces of cocaine and a shotgun from Edward Lockhart. He was charged with 20 counts criminal possession and sale of a controlled substance, including six counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree (class A-II felony), which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and lifetime probation for each sales count.

Of the 15 indicted, 14 were charged with conspiracy in the second degree, a class B felony that carries the maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. Additionally, Marton Davis and Kamisha Rashad were each charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree, and face the maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Luis Abreu was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and Sirena Sharpe was charged with criminal sale of controlled substance in the third degree. Both face the maximum penalty of 9 years in prison. Osbie McClain and Titus Stewart were charged with varying levels of narcotics and weapons related offenses and both face maximum sentences of 12 years in prison.

Onondaga District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick said, “These arrests send a clear message that those of us who live and work in Central New York will not tolerate drug dealers and narcotics trafficking in our community. We are very appreciative of Attorney General Cuomo’s commitment to helping us rid Syracuse and Onondaga County of those who infuse poison and violence into our community. His office has worked diligently and combined forces with my office and our local enforcement to deliver a crippling blow to the illegal drug market. That kind of cooperative effort and his Upstate Guns, Gangs and Drugs Initiative has made Attorney General Cuomo one of the most effective and respected leaders in our state. I believe the success of Operation ‘Blackjack’ is evident of that.”

Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin E. Walsh said, “Today’s multi-agency sweep has been a resounding success, thanks to a coordinated effort headed up by Attorney General Cuomo’s OCTF. The Sheriff’s office welcomes this collaborative effort, and it is initiatives like the Attorney General’s Upstate Guns, Gangs and Drugs Initiative that will go a long way toward making our County and region safer. The narcotics trade throughout New York has run rampant for too long, and it’s a welcome sign that Attorney General Cuomo continues to make curbing it a priority.”

City of Syracuse Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll said, “Thanks to the hard work of various law enforcement agencies under the leadership of Attorney General Cuomo’s Organized Crime Task Force, another network of deadly narcotics in Central New York has been cut off. The scourge of drug trafficking from the New York City region to upstate communities continues to pose a threat to our neighborhoods and our children. However, it is a threat that we are eliminating by working together and pooling our resources.”

New York State Police Superintendent Harry J. Corbitt said, “Drug trafficking operations originating in New York City have expanded into our upstate communities. However, New York law enforcement agencies on every level, led by Attorney General Cuomo’s Upstate Guns, Gangs and Drugs Initiative, have impacted these operations. Through an organized effort, we worked together to bring down these highly organized drug rings. The state police is committed to working with the Attorney General and other law enforcement colleagues to improve the quality of life in our communities.”

Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent-In-Charge John P. Gilbride said, “DEA and our state and local law enforcement partners are committed to identifying and arresting those responsible for distributing illegal narcotics. The Lockhart duo led this cocaine and crack cocaine distributing organization which led to their arrests and the dismantling of those who worked for them. Syracuse and our surrounding counties in Central New York can be assured that due to these arrests there are less drugs and guns off the streets, making our community safer from the perils of drug abuse.”

Those indicted and their alleged roles include:

* Luis Abreu, 33, of E. Spruce Ct., Altoona, PA, bought cocaine from A. Lockhart to resell (.6 ounces of cocaine seized at his residence).
* Ralston Avery, 29, of E. 40th Street, Brooklyn, supplied cocaine to A. Lockhart, Feaggins and others.
* Katy Campbell, a/k/a “Kate,” 20, of Pleasant Street, Canastota, sold cocaine she received from E. Lockhart and drove with E. Lockhart to the Bronx.
* Faniel Denis, 28, of State Street, Canastota, bought cocaine from A. Lockhart and Stewart to resell.
* Harmon Feaggins, 22, of Hoe Avenue, Bronx, transported cocaine to from the Bronx to Syracuse for A. Lockhart and sold cocaine he received from Avery.
* Ronnie Golden, 28, of James Street, Syracuse, sold cocaine and allowed others indicted to store and sell cocaine at his residence.
* Marton Davis, 29, of Presidential Plaza, Syracuse, sold cocaine to E. Lockhart, Golden, Poole, and Rashad for resale.
* Edward N. Lockhart, Jr., 30, sold cocaine he received from A. Lockhart, Wade, Davis and others to Poole, Sarakby and others; drove to the Bronx (cocaine and shotgun seized during investigation).
* Osbie McClain, 24, of Lillian Avenue, Syracuse, bought cocaine from A. Lockhart to resell (3.2 ounces of cocaine and a shotgun seized at residence).
* Taurean Poole, 23, of Cairns Trail, Clay, bought cocaine from E. Lockhart and Davis to resell.
* Kamisha Rashad, 22, of Presidential Plaza, Syracuse, sold cocaine she received from Davis and accompanied A. Lockhart when he drove to the Bronx.
* Adib Sarakby, 53, of Gaskin Road, Baldwinsville, bought cocaine from E. Lockhart to resell.
* Sirena Sharpe, 17, of Avery Avenue, Syracuse, sold cocaine for E. Lockhart.
* Titus Stewart, 36, of Kirkpatrick Street, Syracuse, sold cocaine to Denis and others (2.5 ounces of cocaine and a revolver seized at his residence).
* Robert Wade, 20, of Hoe Avenue, Bronx, bought and sold cocaine to E. Lockhart, A. Lockhart and others for resale.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Maria Moran under the supervision of First Assistant Deputy Attorney General Peri Kadanoff and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Robin Baker. The case was investigated by OCTF Supervising Investigator Ron Vincent, acting under the supervision of Chief Thomas Mullen, with assistance from Onondaga County Sheriff’s Detective Craig Norris, acting under the supervision of Lieutenant Dan Brogan.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Wednesday’s Briefing: School’s Never Out

At least, not if you’re a member of state government.  Much talk about education in the last day.

Gov. Paterson’s top proposal — to cap school property tax increases — is stuck in Legislative Hell.  He wants it.  The Republican who runs the State Senate, Dean Skelos, is all for it and plans to call members back into session to pass it.  But Paterson’s nominal ally, Democratic Assembly boss Sheldon Silver, will only back it if it protects from cuts the gains of recent years in things like the pre-K program.

Elsewhere:

And Finally:

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DSS Goes Purple for Domestic Violence Month

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