The APD said that the person on the motorcycle is believed to have information that will aid the investigation.
A man walked into the bank at around 4:25 p.m. Wednesday with a pistol and demanded cash. Police officers interviewed witnesses at the bank and combed the nearby area looking for the suspect. Members of the state police, the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office and APD canine units were at also at the scene.
Police later released a photograph of the robber and described the suspect as a white male of average height and weight. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt (turned inside out), blue jeans, a hat with a green brim, dark colored shoes and his face was partially concealed by a green and black bandana.
The investigation was still ongoing Thursday and anyone with information concerning the case is asked to contact detective Meagan Kalet at (315) 255-4702 or (315) 253-3231. Callers may remain anonymous.
Auburn man, girlfriend arrested after stabbing on Grant Avenue
An Auburn man has been charged following a stabbing on Grant Avenue Sunday afternoon.
The Auburn Police Department said in a news release Monday that officers responded to a reported fight near 169 Grant Ave. Emergency personnel located a victim who had an apparent stab wound to the left bicep and a head laceration.
The victim received aid from good Samaritans, police said, before emergency personnel arrived. Due to the injuries, the victim was transported to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse for further treatment. The victim, whose name wasn't released, was treated and later released from the hospital, police said.
Police detained Noah I. Oakes, 20, of 64 Grant Ave., Apt. 3, Auburn, shortly after arriving to the scene. Officers also interviewed several witnesses. Oakes has been charged with second-degree assault and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, both felonies. He had possessed a knife at the time of the incident.
Police said the criminal possession of a weapon charge is due to a previous conviction. Oakes was charged in May 2018 with second-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Oakes' girlfriend, Stephanie Ann Weaver, 22, 60 Grant Ave., Apt. 3, Auburn, had been walking with Oakes on Grant Avenue. She had witnessed the incident and later provided a statement at the Auburn police station. For her involvement with the incident, Weaver was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, police said. She was also charged with disorderly conduct and second-degree harassment.
Oakes was processed and remanded to Cayuga County Jail pending further court proceeding, police said. The investigation is ongoing.
If you have any information about this case, contact Detective David Edmonds at (315) 258-9880 or (315) 253-3231. Callers are reminded they can remain anonymous.
Auburn police following leads in bank robbery investigation
Police are continuing to sort through leads while investigating a bank robbery in Auburn.
He said that while "a lot of leads don't turn out to be much," others have developed into useful information. Moore said he and all four of the department's detectives are working on the case. He said the state police and the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office — who both had members at the scene Wednesday — have offered their assistance as well as the FBI office in Syracuse.
"We're two days in and we've made progress up to this point," he said.
Moore asked that anyone who believes they saw a person on a blue and white motorcycle in the area of the robbery between 4 and 5 p.m. or may have footage of the motorcyclist captured from home security systems to contact the APD.
The APD had previously said the motorcyclist is believed to have information that will aid the investigation.
A man armed with a pistol walked into the bank at around 4:18 p.m. Wednesday demanding cash. Officers searched the surrounding area but did not locate a suspect.
Police later released video surveillance images of the robber and a motorcycle seen in the area at the time. The suspect is a white male of average height and weight who was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt (turned inside out), blue jeans, a hat with a green brim and dark colored shoes. Police said the suspect's face was partially concealed by a green and black bandana.
Anyone with information concerning the case is asked to contact detective Meagan Kalet at (315) 255-4702 or (315) 253-3231. Callers may remain anonymous.
D-Day at 75: Remembering the 299th and other Cayuga County veterans
AUBURN — Bill DeTomaso was watching "Saving Private Ryan" with his father, Tony DeTomaso. The 1998 movie opens on Omaha Beach as American forces launch D-Day, the invasion of France that would turn the tide of World War II in Europe beginning on June 6, 1944. As the action raged — bullets, dirt and blood flying across the screen — Bill leaned over to Tony.
"Was it that bad, Dad?"
"You will never know."
Tony, who passed away in 2011 in Auburn, was one of the first to storm those beaches as a member of the 299th Combat Engineer Battalion, a unit of mostly central and western New Yorkers. Sixty-three were from the Auburn area. And according to Bill and several others interviewed for this story, including the Cayuga County Veterans Services Agency, not one of "the Auburn boys," as they became known, is here to see the 75th anniversary of D-Day. In their absence, Bill said, one of his father's fears about that day may be closer to coming true: "People are gonna forget."
The invasion saw more than 150,000 Allied troops land along 50 miles of coastline in France's Normandy region. More than 4,000 of them died. Six were Auburnians in the 299th: Nicholas V. DeAngelis, Leo A. Indelicato, John R. Spinelli, Thomas J. Phillips, Claude D. Brown Jr. and Lawrence A. Roberts. About a third of the battalion, overall, was killed, missing or wounded.
The 299th began engineer training at Camp White, Oregon, in March 1943, according to material from a 2014 exhibit about the war at the Cayuga Museum of History & Art, as well as a speech about the battalion given there that year by Maj. Gen. John P. Herrling. The 660 men would move on to Fort Lewis, Washington, Fort Pierce, Florida, and Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, for further training.
In April 1944, the 299th landed at Cardiff, Wales, to make final preparations to rid Europe of the Nazis. Bill said his father and fellow engineers were trained to clear the obstacles placed along the coastline by the Germans, and create 50-yard gaps. Those obstacles included barbed wire, underwater mines and hulking metal structures, known as Czech hedgehogs, that could stop tanks in their tracks. Getting to them, however, meant disembarking their boats amid curtains of German machine gun fire from the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc overlooking the beaches, among other threats.
Tony, then 18, was in Company B, which landed some of the first Allied forces on Utah Beach that morning. Assigned to Company A, which was assigned to Omaha Beach along with Company C, was Dominick DeBenedetto, also of Auburn. His son, Dave, said Dominick was wiring explosives to clear some obstacles when the primer cord was struck, detonating them and killing his whole squad except for him. It was also on Omaha Beach that DeAngelis was wounded and loaded onto a boat, then killed along with Spinelli when the vessel was bombed, according to the museum exhibit.
Dominick was later hit in the back with machine gun fire, Dave said, and recuperated at a hospital in England before rejoining the 299th to fight at the Battle of the Bulge that December. The battalion would advance across Belgium and Germany with the 1st Infantry Division to northern Munich. It was there when the Nazis surrendered on May 8, 1945, ending the war in Europe.
Much of what Dave knows about his father's service didn't come from him, though. He shared stories with his son over the years, but Dave had to fill in the blanks using books and the 299th's website, he said. Likewise, Tony didn't talk to his son about D-Day until Bill, a Marine, went to Vietnam in 1969. Even then, Tony only opened up to him through letters, Bill said.
"'You're gonna see some bad things,'" he recalled his father writing, his voice breaking. "But I didn't go through anything like him. Thank God."
If the brutality the 299th endured on those beaches becomes lost on future generations, Bill and Dave said, it may be because the ones who survived it had such difficulty sharing it. The soldiers Dominick saw drown with their feet sticking out of the water because they were top-heavy with explosives and other gear. The 4-inch hole Tony saw in a man's head. The red shore. The screams.
"I always worry these guys are the only ones who will know exactly what happened," Dave said.
Both Tony and Dominick felt the effects of their service for the rest of their time on earth. Tony suffered frequent migraines, Bill said, a result of demolishing bridges with the battalion. For Dominick, it was nightmares, Dave said. Still, the two got on with their lives. The 299th held regular reunions for decades. And in 1994, Tony and Dominick were instrumental in raising a monument to the six Auburnians of the 299th who died during D-Day outside the Cayuga County Office Building. Two additional monuments to the battalion stand in Veterans Memorial Park and Market Street Park.
Dominick passed away in 2015, making him the last of "the Auburn boys," Tony believes. But while the story of D-Day in Cayuga County has become the story of the 299th, several men from the area serving with other units and armed forces were also there. One of them was Bruno Del Favero, of Auburn, one of five brothers who fought in the war. He served with the 1st Infantry, more popularly known as "The Big Red One" because of the red numeral on the shoulder patch of its members. His daughter, Jeanne, said Bruno served in a mine platoon, planting or removing them.
Bruno's service spanned 1940 to 1945, from before America entered the war to its end. After action in North Africa, Sicily and elsewhere, he, too, began training for D-Day in England. Jeanne said her father recalled Gen. Dwight Eisenhower speaking to the men of Bruno's 16th Regiment, one of the first slated to reach Normandy, and trying to calm their considerable nerves.
Unlike many veterans, Bruno was forthcoming about his service, his daughter said, until his passing in 1994. But he often concluded his stories with the same saying: "War is hell."
"There were men dropping on either side of you, and you didn't know if you were going to make it through that morning," Jeanne said of D-Day.
Auburnian Martin Byrne, a radioman on a Navy landing craft gunner, was one of the quieter ones, said his daughter, Patti Wilson, of Minoa. Like Dave DeBenedetto, she discovered most details of her father's service secondhand — in her case, a service record kept by Byrne's parents. Also like DeBenedetto, however, she understands why she didn't hear those details from the source.
"There's no way anyone could understand it unless they were there," she said.
When it comes to details on Byrne's action during D-Day, Wilson said, that service record was scant. His only words about the invasion were: "It was a complete success."
"They really were the greatest generation," she said. "And if it weren't for them, we wouldn't enjoy the freedoms we have today."
As that generation diminishes in number, the memory of its significance to history may just hang in the balance. Locally, a proclamation recognizing the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Auburn men who served there will be read at the 5 p.m. Thursday, June 6, meeting of Auburn City Council. Material from the Cayuga Museum's recent World War II exhibit will also be worked into a display in the lobby of Memorial City Hall that will remain there for two weeks, City Clerk Chuck Mason said. Neither the county nor Auburn's veteran posts, meanwhile, currently have any events planned.
And at Veterans Memorial Park, Bill DeTomaso plans to observe the anniversary alone. That's how he's done it the past few years, he said, and that's how he expects he'll do it this year.
"If you forget about what happened," he said, "time has a way of repeating itself."
D-Day 11: Bruno Del Favero
D-Day 12: Claude D. Brown Jr.
D-Day 13: Dominick DeBenedetto
D-Day 14: Edward R. DeFelice
D-Day 15: Frank J. Morabito
D-Day 16: John R. Spinelli
D-Day 17: Lawrence A. Roberts
D-Day 18: Leo A. Indelicato
D-Day 19: Martin Byrne
D-Day 20: Nicholas V. DeAngelis
D-Day 21: Sam J. DiFabio
D-Day 22: Saverio G. Trinca
D-Day 23: Thomas J. Netti
D-Day 24: Thomas J. Phillips
D-Day 25: Tony DeTomaso
D-Day 26: 50th anniversary
D-Day 27: 60th anniversary
D-Day 28: Trinca and DeAngelis
D-Day 29: Battle of the Bulge
D-Day 30: 299th group photo
Cayuga County tax foreclosure auction set for Wednesday
Approximately 70 properties will be up for bid as part of the annual Cayuga County auction of tax-foreclosed properties, scheduled to take place Wednesday at Emerson Park.
The auction, run by the county Office of Real Property Tax Service, will include approximately 25 parcels within the city of Auburn and 46 parcels throughout the rest of Cayuga County.
The yearly auction allows the city and county to partially recoup lost tax revenue that went uncollected from tax-delinquent properties that have been foreclosed upon.
Interested bidders must register by showing a valid driver's license or other acceptable form of ID, according to a county release. Anyone who owes back property taxes in the county is ineligible to bid until the taxes are paid in full.
A successful bid requires payment of a 10% buyer's premium, a 20% deposit, and a $200 administrative fee immediately after the bid is awarded. Cash, check, and MasterCard or Visa are accepted for payment.
“Anyone attending the auction should review the auction booklet ahead of time as it contains important information about the parcels, auction procedures, terms of sale and bidder certification forms,” said Kelly Anderson, county Real Property Director. “Bidders are also responsible for doing their own due diligence researching the properties they plan to bid on to determine condition and use.
More information, including a list of properties, can be found on auctionsinternational.com, or by picking up an auction booklet at the Cayuga County Office Building at 160 Genesee St., Auburn.
'It's a big hurt': NY prison closure concerns local officials in upstate county
There wasn't a warning, Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes said.
The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision announced in May that it would close two state prisons: Lincoln Correctional Facility, a minimum security prison in Manhattan, and Livingston Correctional Facility, a medium security prison in Livingston County.
Byrnes, a Republican who represents Livingston County in the state Assembly, received notification from DOCCS that the prison would close. Local officials, including Livingston County Administrator Ian Coyle, learned about the closure from Byrnes and other state representatives.
"This is a hard one to swallow," Byrnes said in an interview with The Citizen. "There were no public hearings. There was no discussion ... It's pretty shocking to our community."
The 2019-20 state budget authorized Gov. Andrew Cuomo to expedite the closure of up to three state prisons. Cuomo wants to close the prisons by Sept. 1. The budget requires him to provide at least 90 days' notice to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
In a statement, DOCCS said the closures are a result of criminal justice reforms, a decrease in crime and reduction in the inmate population. The number of incarcerated individuals fell from 57,229 in 2011 to 46,718 in mid-May, an 18.4% decrease.
DOCCS' decision followed what the agency described as a "thorough review of the operations" at the state's 54 correctional facilities. The department considered several factors, including facility security level, infrastructure, potential reuse and the programs available to inmates.
There are 327 employees at Livingston Correctional Facility who will be affected by the closure. Thomas Mailey, a DOCCS spokesperson, said there are "a variety of options for staff to transition to other facilities or stage agencies and continue their employment with the state."
"It's sizable because a county of our size, the possible loss of 327 jobs is a big deal and it's a big impact," Coyle said.
Byrnes and Coyle raised questions about why Livingston was selected for closure. They note — as DOCCS did — that the facility is operating at 92% capacity. As of mid-May, there are 806 inmates in the prison. The facility has a maximum capacity of 874, according to DOCCS.
When Cuomo proposed the prison closures in February, his budget office said the closures would eliminate 1,200 beds and save $35 million. During budget negotiations, Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed to close two prisons. That meant a prison with a larger inmate population would be on the chopping block.
But Byrnes said Livingston Correctional Facility is a relatively new prison. It was built in 1991 and the state recently completed an $8.4 million water infrastructure project to bring water from Hemlock Lake to the prison and nearby Groveland Correctional Facility, another medium security prison.
Byrnes toured the facility in March and learned that it's in the midst of a $5.5 million roofing project. The project, she said, won't be completed before the prison closes.
"How you justify spending millions and millions of taxpayer dollars only to turn around and close the institution is just mind-boggling," she said.
Byrnes and Coyle concede that there's likely little they can do to get the state to reconsider its decision. Coyle submitted a Freedom of Information Law request to get more details about why Livingston Correctional Facility was selected. Byrnes, along with state Sen. Patrick Gallivan, plan to meet with DOCCS Commissioner Anthony Annucci in an attempt to prevent the facility's closure.
When Boyle toured Livingston Correctional, officers expressed concerns about the practice of double-bunking. Double-bunking requires inmates to share cells. The New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, which represents prison officers across the state, has criticized the use of double-bunking. The union believes it has led to an increase in assaults on staff and inmate-on-inmate attacks.
Byrnes thinks no prison closures would be necessary if DOCCS no longer used double-bunking.
"We would be in a much better situation for everybody involved in the system," she said.
Barring any changes, Lincoln and Livingston correctional facilities will be the 14th and 15 state prisons closed by Cuomo since he became governor in 2011. The last round of prison closures was in 2014 when the state shut down three medium security facilities and one minimum security prison.
The medium security prisons that closed included Butler Correctional Facility in Wayne County.
Lake Ontario water levels set new record, eclipsing 2017 high
For the second time in three years, Lake Ontario water levels have set a record.
The lake reached 249.02 feet Monday, according to the International Joint Commission's Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board. That tops the previous high of 248.95 feet in 2017 and is nearly three feet higher than the historical average for this time of year.
The board said the lake levels will continue to rise over the next several days, but will reach the peak within the next three weeks. Outflows have increased from 321,400 cubic feet per second to 332,000 cubic feet per second, which could provide some relief to communities along the lake.
"Outflows from Lake Ontario continue to be increased as rapidly as conditions allow," said Frank Bevacqua, a spokesman for the commission.
Flooding has been reported along the lake. Sodus Point in Wayne County has been threatened by high water levels. The village of Fair Haven in northern Cayuga County prepared for a repeat of 2017. Thousands of sandbags were deployed, and additional measures have been taken to prevent flood damage.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in May due to the rising water levels. The declaration covers eight counties along Lake Ontario: Niagara, Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Cayuga, Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence.
Last week, Cuomo launched a task force to examine ways to bolster the shoreline and support economic development projects in communities along the lake.
U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer have urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be ready to approve a major disaster declaration if the state submits a request.
The International Joint Commission has been criticized by Cuomo and other elected officials for not doing enough to prevent flooding. While the commission blames heavy rainfall and inflows from Lake Erie for the high water levels, some state and local officials believe Plan 2014 is the culprit.
Plan 2014 is a water regulatory strategy adopted by the commission in 2016. U.S. Rep. John Katko, among others, say Plan 2014 has led to flooding along the lake in two of the last three years.
The commission, a bi-national agency tasked with overseeing shared boundary waterways between the U.S. and Canada, has six new members — three from each country. The new U.S. commissioners include Jane Corwin, a western New Yorker and former state assemblywoman. She is the U.S. section chair on the commission.
The new commissioners have been touring Lake Ontario communities to observe the high water levels. They were in Buffalo and Greece, a Rochester suburb, last week. Katko, R-Camillus, recently met with the commissioners and said they will visit Cayuga, Oswego and Wayne counties in the coming weeks.
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State issues alert on scammers impersonating Social Security Administration employees
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection issued a consumer alert over scammers impersonating Social Security Administration employees trying to steal personal information.
The division announced the alert in a news release on Wednesday. Impersonators ask for information such as someone's Social Security number, date of birth, their mother's maiden name and bank account information in most cases, the news release said.
The callers may say the SSA's "computers are down" or talk about enrollment in a Medicare prescription drug program in order to ask for information, the release said. The scams can also be done through an automated recording saying, “Your Social Security Number has been ‘suspended’ for suspicion of illegal activity. Call this number immediately."
The division said that people shouldn't give callers any information.
“Scam artists are using official-sounding calls to try and scare individuals into sharing their personal information,” said New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, who oversees the division, in the release. “Government agencies do not typically call people with little or no warning asking for sensitive information or trying to get a payment over the phone. We urge New Yorkers: Do not give any sensitive information to unsolicited callers. Do not play their game.”
The release said the Consumer Assistance Helpline is available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding state holidays and consumer complaints can be filed at any time at dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection.
Cato woman facing three years in prison for drug-related felony
AUBURN — A Cato woman is facing three years of prison time after she pleaded guilty to a drug-related felony Tuesday in Cayuga County Court.
Tabitha Ferguson, 38, of 10636 Shortcut Road, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, a class C felony. She had intended to sell a narcotic preparation to another person in Auburn.
Ferguson's plea satisfied three other charges attached to her indictment: two counts of fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, and another count of fourth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.
Although the maximum sentence for Ferguson could be 5.5 years, she's looking at three years in prison, two years of post-release supervision, and six months of shock incarceration. Her sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 3.
Also in court
Darryl Nottage, 56, of 136 Dunning Ave., Auburn, appeared in court seeking a lowered bail for a weapon-related offense that he was charged with in May.
Nottage was arrested for allegedly threatening a woman with a knife in his home and charged with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Nottage's attorney, Norman Chirco, requested Nottage's bail to be lowered from $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond. Judge Mark Fandrich denied the request and kept the bail as is based on Nottage's six prior convictions, two of which had been "violent." Nottage is scheduled to reappear in court July 19 for motions.