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Cato man sentenced for stealing from Cayuga County nonprofit to pay drug debt

AUBURN — Roughly one year ago, Ryan Goyette said he was a very different person. 

A former groundskeeper at Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency, Goyette had stolen more than $5,000 worth of tools and equipment from the nonprofit to support an addiction to heroin. It was his second brush with the law, as he was previously convicted of possessing stolen property and falsifying business records in Onondaga County. 

But now, Goyette said, he's a changed man. 

On Tuesday, the 25-year-old appeared before Judge Mark Fandrich for sentencing and apologized to the court. 

"I was a completely different person," Goyette said. "But I've turned my life around." 

In September, Goyette, of 11289 South St., Cato, pleaded guilty to one count of fourth-degree grand larceny, a class E felony. At the time, he admitted to pawning two snowblowers he stole from CSCAA last winter. 

During sentencing, Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann said Goyette's story was "familiar" as there have been several similar criminal cases spurred by drugs. 

"These addictions are hard to beat," he said, noting that Goyette's opiate addiction stemmed from dental work in the past. 

Goyette's defense attorney, David Elkovitch, agreed. 

"It's an all too frequent situation in the court system ... and the community," he said. "Hopefully this is the last time we see him in this court."

Goyette — who said he is 10 months clean — was sentenced to five years probation and 30 days in jail. When given the choice between serving eight weekends in jail or 30 days straight, he opted for straight time. He will also have to successfully complete felony drug treatment court. 

In addition, Goyette was ordered to pay approximately $3,100 in restitution. He will begin making monthly $100 payments in March. 

Also in court: 

• An Auburn teen was sentenced Tuesday for illegally possessing a handgun, which he intended to sell for drugs. 

In November, 19-year-old Matthew Stanley pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon and third-degree criminal sale of a firearm, both felonies. During his plea, he admitted to stealing a friend's operable 9 mm handgun and ammunition, which he planned to trade for marijuana

On Tuesday, the district attorney said Stanley had a limited history of petit larceny. However, Budelmann also noted that the teen has some more serious charges — burglary and grand larceny — pending in Onondaga and Cortland counties. 

"He is at a young age and accumulating arrests at a rapid rate," Budelmann said. 

Meanwhile, Stanley's defense attorney, Rome Canzano, said his client's behavior was "exceedingly dangerous," as it crossed the threshold of obtaining drugs to placing a dangerous instrument in the community. And like some of Canzano's other cases, the attorney said he worries what Stanley might face if he does not take his addiction seriously. 

"We'll find ourselves in the same trap as many of the other defendants I've represented ... in state prison or the grave," Canzano said. 

A transient of Auburn, Stanley was sentenced to six months in jail and five years probation. Upon his release from Cayuga County Jail, he will be transferred to Onondaga County to deal with separate charges. 

"This is a hopeful sentence," Budelmann said. "We're giving him a chance." 

Cuomo seeks new state office for workforce development

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to recreate a new state office that would focus on developing New York's workforce to meet the needs of emerging industries.

The Democrat says he'll seek $175 million from the Legislature to create an Office of Workforce Development to coordinate the dozens of workforce training programs currently handled by various state agencies.

Cuomo says the goal is to "ensure all New Yorkers have access to training to meet growing workforce needs and continue to move New York's economy forward." He says some of the emerging fields with growing demand for trained workers include clean energy, health technology and computer science.

The proposal is the latest the governor has released heading up to Wednesday's state of the state address, which opens the Legislature's 2018 session.

First of Rikers Island jails set to close

NEW YORK — The city will close one of nine Rikers Island jails in the summer as part of a plan to shut down the troubled jail complex, the mayor announced on Tuesday.

"Every day we are making New York City's jail system smaller and safer," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. "This announcement is an important step in our plan to close Rikers Island and create more community-based facilities to better serve people in custody and our hard-working correctional staff."

De Blasio, a Democrat, said the city's jail population fell to below 9,000 for December. As of Monday, the Department of Correction's jail population was 8,705.

The city is working to identify sites that can replace Rikers, which sits in the East River between Queens and the Bronx. Officials also are assessing the capacity of three existing correction facilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

De Blasio revealed in March he intended to close the Rikers complex, saying it will take a decade. An independent commission formed after a string of brutality cases that exposed poor supervision, questionable medical care and corruption at Rikers also recommended its closure.

Crime has been falling in the nation's largest city. De Blasio, at the swearing-in ceremony for his second term, boasted about the city recording the lowest number of annual homicides since the early 1950s. The police department's preliminary count is 290 homicides for last year, a 14 percent drop from the year before.

Natalie Brophy / Natalie Brophy, The Citizen  

Two cars were involved in a crash Tuesday morning outside of Pettigrass Funeral Home on Genesee Street in Auburn. 

Cop denied benefits for rescue injuries goes to court

ALBANY — A New York police officer denied disability retirement benefits after being injured rescuing a family during Superstorm Sandy deserves them because he wasn't trained for such rescue work, his lawyer argued Tuesday before the state's highest court.

Attorney Joseph Dougherty told the seven-member Court of Appeals that Orangetown Police Officer James Kelly suffered neck and shoulder injuries in October 2012 as he helped a family trapped in its collapsing Rockland County home. With one resident dead and conditions delaying the arrival of rescue crews, Kelly was hurt as he removed debris off injured residents and deflected a falling rafter from hitting his partner, Dougherty said.

A lower court upheld the state's denial of his application for accidental disability retirement, or ADR, saying Kelly's injuries were a result of "risks inherent to being a police officer." Kelly is appealing that ruling.

Kelly is eligible for the enhanced pension benefits because he was injured as the result of an on-duty accident, Dougherty said. The lawyer argued that Kelly, unlike firefighters and other emergency responders, hadn't been trained for such situations, therefore the falling rafter wasn't a "foreseeable" event.

"My client was never asked to do ... what he had to do that day," Dougherty said.

The court also heard arguments in a similar case in which the state comptroller's office is appealing a lower court's annulment of the denial of ADR benefits for a Yonkers firefighter. The lower court ruled that Pat Sica was eligible for the benefits because he suffered a heart ailment from being exposed to toxic gases while responding to an emergency at a supermarket in September 2001.

The comptroller's office argued that Sica's injuries resulted from risks inherent to his duties as a firefighter and emergency medical technician trained to handle chemical incidents.

Decisions on the cases aren't expected until later this year.

EPA tells GE it's too early to say Hudson cleanup done

ALBANY — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it needs to finish a review of a $1.7 billion Superfund cleanup of the Hudson River before declaring whether the job was completed properly.

The EPA told General Electric Co. in a letter Tuesday it expects to finalize its review early this year. Boston-based GE asked for a "certificate of completion" a year ago and the agency was obliged to respond by Wednesday.

GE completed removal of 2.75 million cubic yards of polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated sediment from the river in 2015.

The EPA has said that, based on existing data, it does not appear as though more dredging is needed.

New York state officials and other critics pushing for a broader cleanup say too much PCB-contaminated sediment remains in the river.

Police: Cayuga Correctional Facility visitor had drugs

A Lockport woman is facing a felony charge for allegedly possessing drugs at Cayuga Correctional Facility in Moravia. 

New York State Police said Faith A. Brown, 20, was visiting an inmate at the prison on Dec. 30 where she was found in possession of drugs. Police would not specify what kind due to an ongoing investigation. 

Brown was charged with first-degree introduction of dangerous prison contraband, a class D felony. She was also charged with second-degree reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor, and violating the state sanitary code, a violation. 

She was arraigned in the Town of Owasco Court and remanded to the Cayuga County Jail on $5,000 cash bail or $10,000 bond. She's scheduled to appear Jan. 4 in the Town of Moravia Court. 

Police: Two Auburn women facing felony charges after driving drunk

Two Auburn women with a history of impaired driving convictions, are facing felony charges after driving drunk this past weekend, according to the Auburn Police Department. 

Jessica D. L. Hale, 27, of 47 N. Fulton St., was arrested on Dec. 29 with a blood alcohol content of 0.14. Hale has previously been convicted for driving while intoxicated in April, and police said her license had been revoked. 

Hale was charged with DWI with a previous conviction and driving with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit, both class E felonies. She was also charged with first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a class F felony, and two driving infractions. 

Hale was arraigned Tuesday in Auburn City Court and released on her own recognizance. She is scheduled to appear for a pretrial conference at 9:15 a.m. on Feb. 28. 

The following day on Dec. 30, police conducted a traffic stop and arrested Susan M. Homick. Police said the 44-year-old, of 228 N. Seward Ave, had made multiple moving violations while driving. They found her blood alcohol content to be 0.17. Police added that Homick had been convicted in the last 18 months of driving while ability impaired, and had been driving with a suspended license.  

Homick was charged with first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a class E felony. She was also charged with two class U misdemeanors — DWI first offense, and driving with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit. Police also charged the Auburn woman with multiple traffic infractions. 

Homick was released on an appearance ticket. She is scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 5 in Auburn City Court. 

Matthew J. Stanley 


Ryan Goyette