The Citizen's top five most-read stories of the work week.
Seven arraigned in Cayuga County Court for connection with Auburn meth lab bust
AUBURN — Seven of the eight people arrested in connection with the Auburn meth lab bust in November were arraigned in Cayuga County Criminal Court Thursday morning.
On Nov. 9, the Finger Lakes Drug Task Force executed a warrant around 10 a.m. at 54 Orchard St. and found multiple people "actively engaged in the production of methamphetamine," the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office reported at the time. The raid was executed by the sheriff's office and the Auburn Police department.
AUBURN — A home in Auburn reportedly being used to produce methamphetamine was raided by pol…
A number of adults and three children were found at the scene. The New York State Police's Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team helped handle the dangerous substances involved in the making of the drugs at the home.
Seven of the eight defendants arrested in connection with the meth bust were arraigned in court Thursday and are now each facing at least three felonies and six misdemeanors.
Seven more arrests have been made following the Finger Lakes Drug Task Force's raid of a met…
The defendants arraigned in court Thursday include:
• Raymond Cox, 37, of 68 Orchard St., Auburn
• James Delaney, 33, of 54 Orchard St., Auburn
• Heather Hutton, 45, of 8 Throop Ave., Auburn
• Theresa Hutton, 23, of 117 Main St., Port Byron
• Thomas Hutton, Sr., 54, of 54 Orchard St., Auburn
• Breanne Lunn, 31, 11 Garden E. Lane, Hannibal
• Timothy Rathbun, 35, of 8270 W. Loop Road, Montezuma
The seven defendants are each facing the charges of:
• Second-degree conspiracy, a class B felony
• Second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class A felony
• Second- degree unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine, a class C felony
• Second-degree criminal possession of methamphetamine manufacturing materials, a class A misdemeanor
• Criminal possession of precursors of methamphetamine, a class E felony
• Three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, class A misdemeanors
• Second-degree criminal use of drug paraphernalia, a class A misdemeanor
Thomas Hutton is the only exception, as he faces an additional class E felony of unlawful disposal of methamphetamine laboratory materials in addition to the common nine charges. Thomas and Cox are the only two defendants who were remanded to Cayuga County Jail, each are being held in lieu of $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond bail.
Thomas was remanded to the jail after his November arrest, but Cox was remanded to the jail Thursday. District Attorney Jon Budelmann said in court Cox had some risk of flight since he left Tompkins County while on probation for driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor charge, in the past.
An arrest has been made following the discovery that an Auburn home was being used to manufa…
Lunn, Rathbun, Delaney, Heather Hutton and Theresa Hutton remained out on their own recognizance. Budelmann argued for all defendants released that they be given bail due to the seriousness of their charges and considering they had only low-level felonies when initially released by Auburn City Court. He requested for bail to be set at $1,000 cash or $2,000 bond.
Before releasing the defendants, Leone made sure they understood the serious nature of their charges and explained that if they got into any further trouble he would remand them. All seven defendants are due back in court April 11.
The eighth defendant, Shaun Cronin, 40, of 36 Franklin St., Auburn, also appeared in court but his arraignment was adjourned until next week. The court adjourned it because there was no court appointed interpreter available to translate the proceedings to sign language for Cronin.
Auburn woman admits in federal court to selling heroin to woman who died of overdose
An Auburn woman admitted in federal court this week to providing fentanyl-laced heroin to another woman who died after overdosing on the drug.
Allyson Hamilton, 26, of Auburn, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of heroin or fentanyl. The guilty plea was entered in U.S. District Court in Binghamton.
The charge stems from an incident that occurred on Dec. 30, 2017, in Auburn, according to an Auburn Police Department press release. Auburn police and emergency personnel were dispatched to 8 Sheridan St. for a drug overdose. Attempts to revive the victim, 24-year-old Megan Condes, were unsuccessful. Condes died at Auburn Community Hospital on Dec. 31, 2017.
An investigation began and police learned that Condes ingested heroin containing fentanyl. The evidence in the case led police to identify Hamilton as a person of interest. She later became the prime suspect.
Auburn police forwarded the case to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. In July 2018, the DEA, along with members of the Auburn Police Department and Finger Lakes Drug Task Force, arrested Hamilton on a federal warrant.
When Hamilton pleaded guilty this week, she admitted to corresponding with Condes for the purpose of selling her two baggies of heroin. Police said the sale was for a negotiated price of $15 per bag.
Hamilton also admitted to setting up a location for Condes to pick up the drugs. Condes traveled to Hamilton's house to collect the heroin.
Police said Condes overdosed less than two hours after she obtained the drugs from Hamilton. The cause of death was determined to be anoxic brain injury due to mixed drug toxicity.
Condes' name was released by police at the request of her mother. In a news release, police said her mother "wanted the world to know that Megan did not intend to die that night."
"She had her demons, she was an addict, and she tried rehab numerous times, but ultimately she struggled," Condes' mother told authorities. "Megan was 24, and had her whole life ahead of her."
Hamilton has been released under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Department until her sentencing. She will be sentenced May 21.
Federal prosecutors are seeking a 120-month sentence, police said. According to the plea agreement filed with the court, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Spoon and Forks: New restaurant brings Thai, sushi and more to Auburn's west end
AUBURN — As Thai food becomes more and more popular in America, many Auburnians have asked when a Thai restaurant would open in the city.
And many times, Bilin Gao and Jinwen Li have been the ones they've asked.
The owners of New China Royal on Genesee Street for 10 years, Gao and Li are now counting on that interest in Thai food as they open a second restaurant: Spoon and Forks Asia Cuisine.
Located down the street from their first restaurant, at the former Tabatha's and Ricky's before that, Spoon and Forks features an expansive menu of Thai and sushi. Traditional dishes include curry chicken, basil chicken and pad Thai (stir-fried noodles with egg, scallions, bean sprouts and dry tofu topped with ground peanuts). The sushi bar serves all manner of tuna, salmon and other rolls. There's also a hibachi bar in the restaurant with chicken, shrimp, steak, salmon and scallop options. And those who just want good old General Tso's or sesame chicken will find those dishes as well.
Speaking in their new restaurant Thursday, the day of its soft opening, Gao and Li said they've been planning to open a second restaurant for several years. They envisioned it being a more formal, sit-down restaurant to complement the takeout business they've been doing at New China Royal since 2009, they said. They were just waiting for the right place to open that restaurant.
That place came along in September 2017, when Gao and Li bought the building at 264 Genesee St. for $98,365, according to The Citizen archives. But that was only the beginning: Gao and Li spent the next 15 months renovating. They replaced the floors, painted the walls and installed their kitchen. What was a seating area between the bar (which serves beer and wine) and the main dining room now hosts a private party area, as well as the hibachi grill and the sushi bar. There's also new wooden trim, new lighting, new tables and seats — it looks like a whole new restaurant.
Gao and Li said they liked the openness and location of the building. Now, they're spending the week until their restaurant's Jan. 24 grand opening making sure the food they serve there is also to their satisfaction. Between the community's appetite for Thai cuisine and their good relationship with that community, Gao and Li believe Spoon and Forks will be to Auburn's satisfaction, too.
"I care about my food, my customers and my business," Li said. "I treat my customers like my good friends, so everybody treats me like a good friend too."
Amusing Auburn: New comedy night at downtown restaurant boosting local scene
Wild's Eats & Sweets may soon have to add another noun to the end of its name.
Since August, the downtown Auburn restaurant has been hosting a biweekly comedy night that's given a mic to stand-ups from the Auburn area and beyond.
Saturday's edition will bring in Max Kessler, a Syracuse University graduate who got into stand-up comedy after becoming a viral star due to his resemblance to Adam Sandler. When Sandler serendipitously portrayed a character named Max Kessler in his 2016 film "The Do-Over," Kessler got the actor's attention online and found himself invited to the film's Los Angeles premiere. The two also appeared together on "The Tonight Show." Late last year, Kessler, who works as an accountant in New York City, followed in his doppelganger's footsteps to the comedy club stage.
Jeffrey Emmette, who organizes comedy nights at Wild's, said Kessler even sounds like Sandler, too. Kessler's comedy isn't as goofy, Emmette added, but he's still funny in his own right.
Emmette said Wild's owner Mathew Wild approached him with the idea of starting a comedy night at the restaurant. Wild knew Emmette had a history in stand-up and entertainment, which included launching the internet radio show "Unscripted Radio" in 2011. Emmette hosted it along with "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" actress Karan Ashley, "All That" performer Katrina Johnson and Jake Pentland, the son of Roseanne Barr. Emmette, who lived in Auburn at the time, also ventured to Los Angeles to shoot a pilot for a reality show based on "Unscripted Radio."
For the first comedy night at Wild's, Emmette said he rounded up about eight performers — but six of them bailed out.
AUBURN — After Mathew Wild added pizza and chicken wings to the menu of his family's Genesee…
"I'd never done an hour and a half (of material) before, but someone had to fill the time," he said. "It was a pretty good learning curve."
Taking place almost every other Saturday since then, the comedy night has become both an opportunity for Auburn's comedians and a new entertainment option for its comedy lovers. Along with Auburn Public Theater, which also hosts comedians and open mic nights, the new Wild's event is helping to shape a developing scene, Emmette said.
He and Wild hope to eventually make the night weekly and bring in bigger talents, Emmette added.
"It'd be great," he said. "Everyone complains that Auburn doesn't have anything to offer, so now you have this."
Auburn man pleads guilty to raping, sending nude pictures to young girl
AUBURN — An Auburn man pleaded guilty in Cayuga County Criminal Court Tuesday to raping and sending sexually explicit images to a minor.
Todd Klino, 32, was arrested by the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office in November and charged with with sending sexually explicit images and messages to a girl younger than 17. The investigation began Nov. 12 due to a tip from the victim's family. At the time, police said Klino's inappropriate relationship with the girl spanned several months and included him sending images and messages through a number of mediums such as text messages and social media platforms.
An Auburn man was arrested this week for allegedly sending sexually explicit images and mess…
After further investigation, Klino, of 26 Cross St., was charged with third-degree rape and third-degree criminal sexual act. Police said he'd engaged in a sexual relationship with the same girl for several months at a local hotel.
An Auburn man previously charged with sending sexually explicit messages to a young girl was…
Klino pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree dissemination of indecent material to a minor, a class D felony, and third-degree rape, a class E felony.
Judge Mark Fandrich said Klino sent pictures of himself naked which also showed his face, to the girl, now 16, to encourage her to have intercourse. In October, in the area of McMaster Street in Auburn, Fandrich said Klino had sex with the girl.
"I took a picture of myself and sent it to her," Klino said while pleading guilty to his crimes. "We had sexual intercourse."
In exchange for his plea, Fandrich will likely sentence Klino to one to three years in prison, indeterminate, for dissemination of indecent material and two years in prison with 10 years of post-release supervision for his rape charge. The sentences will run concurrently. Klino will have to register as a sex offender and an order of protection will be put in place for the victim at his March 26 sentencing.
Klino, who is being held at the Cayuga County Jail in lieu of $30,000 cash or $60,000 bond bail, was remanded back to the jail.
Also in court
• A homeless woman pleaded guilty to stealing and scrapping a car in Locke in November.
Christina Merithew, 30, who court records indicate is homeless, pleaded guilty to one count of fourth-degree grand larceny, a class E felony, in court Tuesday morning.
In November, Merithew stole a 2003 Jaguar x25 in Locke. Her ex-fiance told her it was his car, she said.
"Basically, I took a car to a scrapyard and scrapped it," Merithew said as part of her guilty plea. "I didn't have permission to take the car, and it was not mine."
Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann said Merithew received approximately $250 for the vehicle, which was valued at more than $3,000.
As a second-felony offender, Merithew could face a maximum of two to four years in prison, Fandrich said. She was previously convicted of second-degree attempted possession of a forged instrument in Tompkins County in 2014.
In exchange for her plea, however, she will likely be sentenced to 1.5 to three years in prison. An order of protection will be put in place for the victim, she will be ordered to pay $1,350 in restitution, and she waived her right to appeal as part of her plea deal.
Merithew is due back in court for sentencing March 26.
• A New York City teen could see up to three years in prison for using two counterfeit $100 American Express travelers checks at the Auburn Wegmans in July.
Dashaun Gray, 19, who lives in Queens, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree possession of a forged instrument, class D felonies, in court Tuesday.
Gray admitted to knowingly using two forged travelers checks about 30 minutes apart at Wegmans the evening of July 5.
"I went into Wegmans with the travelers check," Gray said, "I bought a few items and I got the change back."
At the time of his December arrest, the Auburn Police Department reported it had to travel to New York City to retrieve Gray after the NYC police department located him. Auburn City Court had issued an arrest warrant for Gray for using the checks at Wegmans.
It took a 10 hours of driving, but Auburn police finally got their man.
Initially charged with two counts of first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, class C felonies; two counts of first-degree forgery, class C felonies; and two counts of petit larceny, class A misdemeanors; Gray's plea to both counts of second-degree possession of a forged instrument satisfied the entire indictment.
Fandrich said he will likely sentence Gray to one to three years in prison with a shock camp order for each count, which will run concurrent. The maximum sentence for the crimes is 2 1/3 to seven years. Gray is due back for sentencing March 26.