An Auburn lawyer who works part-time for Cayuga County government was arrested Friday evening for driving while intoxicated, city police said.
Samuel P. Giacona, of 383 Waters Edge, Auburn, was charged Aug. 18 with misdemeanor DWI.
Auburn Police Department Chief Shawn Butler said officers were dispatched to Logan Street at around 5:45 p.m. Friday after a caller complained of a man parked on the side of the road.
"For whatever reason, they were concerned for the driver's welfare," Butler said. "They said a 50s male was behind the wheel and appeared to be confused."
Upon arrival, police found 59-year-old Giacona idling in his car. Butler said further investigation revealed that Giacona was intoxicated.
An attorney with Giacona Law P.C. in Auburn, Giacona primarily practices in real estate and family law. He is also employed as a part-time attorney with Cayuga County Department of Social Services, representing the county in child abuse and neglect cases.
Michael Russell, the county's human resources administrator, said Giacona is still employed with the county. He added that Giacona was out of the office Monday for "personal reasons" and it was unclear whether the charge could affect his job status at a later date.
Giacona was charged with first-offense DWI and released to a third party. He was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday morning in Auburn City Court.
UNION SPRINGS — It rolled down Green Street in Union Springs — a Frankenstein-ed tractor houseboat — arriving at Frontenac Park from Aurora sooner than Anto Parseghian expected.
"No police escort," he remarked. "That's a good sign."
As the amphibious houseboat got closer to the boat launch, a crowd of hundreds began to shout and clap. Theon Parseghian, Anto's son, stood with a captain's hat on, waving and steering what he affectionately calls his "Beast of Burden."
In it went, driving toward Frontenac Island and making a U-turn back to shore. People crowded the docks, the porch of the village offices and the shoreline yelling, "Captain Theon," and "Congratulations!" Theon's brothers and friends used drones, GoPros and cameras to document the day.
"I knew it was going to float all along," Theon said after the first trip, and the crowd laughed. "It wasn't as dramatic as I thought it might be."
With such large tires attached to the boat, Theon had been concerned that the whole thing might flip over. With mechanics on board, a firefighter and plenty of life jackets, the amphibious houseboat rolled in and out of Cayuga Lake without incident. Still getting used to the steering and many levers, he took it out a second time with some family members on board.
Boaters gave him the thumbs up as he cruised by.
"This thing is working so good," Theon said.
One day he wants to spruce up the interior, installing a kitchen, a bathroom and a place to sleep. That probably won't be anything he tackles until next year, he said.
Rain drops began to fall, but many in the crowd stayed to watch the King Ferry native realize one of his many dreams. Sonny Alvarez, formerly of Aurora and now of Union Springs, said he's watched the progress Theon has made day in and day out as he drove by the workshop on Route 90 in Aurora. He was not alone.
Al Shepardson, of Fleming, was the last owner of the houseboat, and was impressed at what it had become. It didn't surprise him, though. He had seen Theon before, driving along in Cayuga Lake in a Volvo turned into a boat.
"I'm looking out going, 'Wow, there's a car in the water,'" he said, laughing. "He's got these ideas that, it's amazing. He's got a lot of talent."
Tyndale Parseghian, one of Theon's brothers, said the family is starting to get used to the inventions. Anto, who is also a craftsman himself, but with wood, said he wasn't too shocked to see his son's latest project.
"Theon's always reached a little beyond my greatest imagination," he said.
Fingerlakes Mall's owner of 11 years will hold onto the Aurelius shopping center for the foreseeable future.
John Bouck, who does leasing work for the mall through Bouck Real Estate, said Tuesday that its owner, Siba Corporation, has rejected all of the recent bids to buy it.
"At this point there is no acceptable offer, and none on the horizon. ... There seem to be no current negotiations for it," he said. However, Bouck added that Siba is still open to offers.
Siba, a New York City diamond wholesaler, listed the mall for sale in April through brokerage firm Eastern Consolidated. Siba's asking price is $7 million.
In July, Eastern Consolidated put the mall up for auction on commercial real estate marketplace Ten-X. Bidding started at $1.7 million and remained there for almost two days, until a total of 15 bids were made at the last minute. The final bid on the Ten-X page was $4.1 million. However, Eastern Consolidated said shortly after the auction ended that offers for the mall were still being negotiated.
Bouck explained that the final bid didn't meet Siba's reserve — the minimum price at which it would have to sell the mall. Therefore, Siba retained its right not to. Ten-X didn't list the reserve price.
A separate bid for the mall was made July 12 by Adam Weitsman, owner of The Krebs restaurant in Skaneateles and Owego recycling business Upstate Shredding. Weitsman and his broker, Michael DeRosa, called the offer "competitive" but declined to disclose the amount. Eastern Consolidated confirmed receipt of the bid to Weitsman and DeRosa three weeks later.
Eastern Consolidated did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The 492,592-square-foot mall has a market value of $4,651,163, according to Cayuga County property records. Siba, the mall's fifth owner since 1980, purchased it for $27 million in 2006. The shopping center had recently added Bass Pro Shops and secured a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Cayuga County, prompting Siba CEO Sam Abram to call the mall an "attractive purchase."
However, the mall has fallen short of the now-scuttled PILOT's projection that its value would rise from $4.6 million to $25 million by 2019. More than 20 of its national tenants have left since 2008 due to a combination of the Great Recession, consumer habits shifting away from malls and, according to a 2014 report by Pomeroy Appraisal Associates, Abram's ownership strategy.
"It is understood buyers' intention was to enact systematic rent increases thereby creating substantial revenue gains thereby justifying the high acquisition price," the report says.
AUBURN — For decades, competitors have been bringing the heat every year for the Downtown Auburn Mile.
That tradition continued Friday, as a mix of older people and junior speedsters could be seen making the trek from Pettigrass Funeral Home to the intersection of State and Dill streets.
As the first competitors got into the final stretch of the race, onlookers huddled on the streets, getting their phones and cameras into position.
A visibly sweaty Josh Cuddy was the first to make his way to the finish line as spectators shouted, with other runners just behind the 17-year-old.
Cuddy, who will be a senior at Auburn High School this year, said he has been entering the competition for around a decade, though this is his first victory.
"It's always been a big goal of mine to win this race," Cuddy said.
Cuddy said when he got by Wegmans his frequent running partner, Chris Mason, said, "There you go!" to him as he was breaking into his stride and that helped motivate him enough to pull ahead and finish the race.
The event is a fundraiser co-sponsored by the Auburn YMCA and Active Physical Therapy Solutions. Some people come to the race every year.
Laura Clary, the YMCA's wellness director, said before the race that the journey's relatively short distance makes it more palatable for all ages.
"The fact that it's a mile is definitely not intimidating," Clary said. "One parent just registered a 3-year-old."
Clary said the amount of participants for the contest has been steady at around 300 people for the last few years, which she believes is a testament to the community's enjoyment of the event.
The route was largely the same as the one used for the original race, Clary said, noting the route is easy for police to monitor.
Competitors' completion times were measured by the chips inside each person's running bib.
Mother-daughter duo Becky Hogle and Alyssa Hogle, 9, also took to the streets. While Alyssa said she entered because she likes running and exercising, Becky mainly just wanted to support her daughter.
Nearly one week after an Auburn attorney was charged with drunk driving, the Cayuga County District Attorney's Office said he still has his driver's license, something that should have been suspended immediately.
Samuel Giacona, 59, of 383 Waters Edge, Owasco, was charged Friday with driving while intoxicated — an unclassified misdemeanor — after city police allegedly found the attorney in his idling car on Logan Street. Auburn Police Department Chief Shawn Butler said that officers suspected Giacona was intoxicated, but he refused a chemical breath test.
Giacona was arrested and given an appearance ticket for an arraignment Tuesday morning in Auburn City Court. However, the arraignment was adjourned.
According to Assistant District Attorney Diane Adsit, Acting City Court Judge David Thurston "decided for unknown reasons" that he would not arraign Giacona Tuesday. Instead, Thurston canceled the appearance and did not suspend Giacona's driver's license.
Adsit suggested it could be due to a conflict of interest, but the exact nature of the conflict was not clear.
"(Thurston) should have done the arraignment and then asked the supervising judge of the district for another judge to handle the case from that point forward after stating on the record why he thinks he has a conflict," Adsit said in an email to The Citizen.
Adsit added that Giacona should have been immediately arraigned upon his arrest Friday so a judge could take his driver's license. She said the law requires the suspension to happen immediately when a DWI suspect refuses a chemical breath test.
Butler disagreed with that assessment.
"Our policy as well as the law (section 1194 under article 31 of NY Vehicle and Traffic Law) does not require an immediate arraignment for those that refuse to submit to a chemical breath test," he said in an email, noting that police do not have the authority to suspend a driver's license. "This case is no different from the dozens of other refusals we get every year. Unless there is some extenuating circumstance relative to a DWI refusal case, we have never arraigned these subjects immediately."
As of Tuesday afternoon, the assistant district attorney said Giacona still had his driver's license. No new arraignment date has been set.
"(Giacona) was given an appearance ticket and kept his license all weekend," she said. "I don't understand why that happened. ... Giacona is getting something no other similarly situated defendant gets, which is to keep his license when it should be suspended."
Meanwhile, a clerk at Auburn City Court said both Thurston and Judge Michael McKeon have recused themselves in Giacona's case. The case was sent to the district's supervising judge, who will assign a new judge.
Thurston did not return a request for comment.
An attorney with Giacona Law P.C. in Auburn, Giacona primarily practices in real estate and family law. He also represents Cayuga County in child abuse and neglect cases part time.
Dominic Giacona, a partner at Giacona Law and Samuel's nephew, said his office filed a proper adjournment request following Samuel Giacona's arrest. Part of the request was to allow Samuel Giacona to secure legal representation, as his office did not feel it was appropriate to represent him in the matter.
"There is no merit to the belief that anybody here is getting special treatment," Dominic Giacona said. "In every criminal case a defendant is permitted an opportunity to adjourn an arraignment to secure legal representation. ... In my experience, I've never seen a defendant accused of a DWI provided an immediate arraignment absent an accident or some sort of personal injury.
"The only reason a new date hasn't been set — it's my understanding that the judges have recused themselves because of their personal relationships with Sam," he added. "They don't want to be perceived as providing special treatment and their decision to recuse themselves from handling this case is their decision — not Ms. Adsit's."
As for the district attorney's office, Adsit said she plans to handle the case as there is "no legal basis for our office to recuse ourselves."
Dominic Giacona disagreed.
"It's a shame that the personal animosity of the district attorney's office is fueling these sentiments," he said. "Given the longstanding history with the Cayuga County District Attorney's Office ... there is a reasonable appearance that Ms. Adsit cannot fairly and impartially prosecute this case."
"We can only hope that (Giacona) does not drive drunk again and kill someone in the meantime while he still has a license that should have been suspended (Tuesday) morning by Judge Thurston," Adsit said. "For now, we want him simply treated like every other highly intoxicated driver we prosecute."
Two Cayuga County residents are facing welfare fraud charges after a two-year investigation revealed they obtained over $15,000 in public assistance they were not entitled to, Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann said Monday.
According to the district attorney's office, Rhea J. Peck, 30, failed to report to the Cayuga County Department of Social Services where she lived; that Patrick C. Stotler, 33, lived in her house and contributed income; and her total household income. Peck also failed to inform the department that she earned approximately $30,000 from selling gold in February and March.
Additionally, Stotler was seen illegally using Peck’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits card on multiple occasions, Budelmann said.
Peck and Stotler, both of 3525 Route 34B, Scipio, were arrested and charged Aug. 17 with third-degree welfare fraud, third-degree grand larceny, six counts of first-degree filing a false instrument and third-degree identity theft, all felonies. The pair was also charged with the misdemeanors of misuse of food stamps and third-degree identity theft.
"These defendants violated the public’s trust, illegally under reporting Ms. Peck’s actual income to the Department of Social Services, thereby collecting taxpayer money designated for those citizens who truly need public assistance," Budelmann said in a press release.
Both Peck and Stotler were arraigned on the above charges and further court proceedings are pending, according to the district attorney.
Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Investigator Robert Franklin of the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office (315) 253-1132 or Investigator Fred Whitsett of the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office at (315) 253-1391 or submit an anonymous tip at www.cayugacrime.com.
That's what it said on the signs posted around the Throop Fire Department Sunday afternoon during a benefit for the 50-year-old emergency responder.
Dahl, who serves as director of Cayuga County Emergency Services and chief of the Throop Fire Department, needed both a liver and kidney transplant. He was on the waiting list to receive a liver for around four years, until this June.
On June 13, Dahl underwent a successful liver transplant at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, just a few days after his 50th birthday.
Dahl's older sister, Debbi Purcell, said her brother is doing much better following the liver transplant, but he is still waiting for a kidney donation.
Purcell led a committee of Dahl's family, friends and coworkers who came together to plan the Bunkers for Brian benefit, named after firefighters' term for their personal protective equipment, or bunker gear.
The money raised from the pasta dinners, basket raffles, 50/50 ticket sales, door prizes and baked goods sale will go directly to Dahl and his family, his wife Paulette and children, Anthony and Bri, to help pay for medical costs.
Purcell also started a GoFundMe page, www.gofundme.com/bunkers-for-brian, for her brother in May. As of Sunday afternoon, the family has raised $5,445 of their $100,000 goal and the webpage is still open for people to donate. Purcell estimated the family will raise around $20,000 at the benefit.
"It was always in our family, always in our blood to give back," Purcell said. "Our father joined the fire department here in 1968 when we moved to Throop and everyone of us have served at one point or another with the fire department. Brian came in when he was 16 years old and started the junior fire division and went on from there. He's just always been very service oriented toward other people so when things were happening with him, it was definitely time to open up and let the community give back."
In addition to donating money, Purcell said people can help by signing up to be an organ donor.
A Cayuga County employer has slashed eight positions despite repeated public commitments to retain jobs at the company.
Auburn Armature, which was acquired by New Hyde Park-based Power-Flo Technologies in June, terminated eight employees — seven at its Auburn facility and one in Syracuse — on July 21. The Citizen learned of the firings from five of the employees who were let go, four of whom spoke on the condition that their names not be released because they're currently seeking new positions.
Eric Foster, who worked at Auburn Armature for 24 years, recalled Power-Flo Technologies management telling employees that they would be needed because the company, which owns other entities in downstate New York and New England, didn't have the workforce to take on Auburn Armature's day-to-day operations by itself.
Three ex-employees told The Citizen they had conversations with Power-Flo management, including owner Jerry DiCunzolo, ensuring them that their jobs would be safe. Two of the former workers said their individual discussions with executives occurred two days before they were fired on July 21.
"I think that (DiCunzolo) did very clearly and effectively communicated something that he never had any intentions of doing," Foster said.
Auburn Armature's sale plans became public knowledge in April when the company filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification form that indicated the company may close its six plants — the other facilities are in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse — and lay off its 118 employees as part of an acquisition.
Geoff Murphy, who was then Auburn Armature's president and CEO, said the document was submitted as a worst-case scenario in case the company had to reduce its workforce. He said the electrical supplies distributor was searching for a buyer who would retain most if not all of the company's employees.
When the sale was first announced, DiCunzolo pledged to retain Auburn Armature's employees.
"We believe that by combining the strengths of Auburn Armature and Power-Flo Technologies, we will strengthen our commitment to all our customers while continuing to serve them with the most qualified service team available," DiCunzolo said in May.
Because of the bankruptcy filing, the sale of Auburn Armature needed to be approved by a federal judge. The judge signed off on the transaction and Power-Flo finalized its acquisition in July. Auburn Armature's name was changed to AAI, a Power-Flo Technologies company.
The new ownership reiterated its commitment to preserving and expanding jobs at AAI's facilities.
And then came July 21, when eight employees were terminated by Power-Flo Technologies. The employees worked in administrative positions — operations, information technology, among other departments — and most were veterans of the company. One employee's tenure lasted more than three decades.
In a statement released by AAI Friday, the company said it wouldn't comment "on the details of any terminated employees out of respect for their privacy." But they acknowledged that AAI retained 110 of its 118 employees.
AAI has hired three additional employees at its Buffalo location and is seeking employees for its Albany facility, the company added.
"AAI, a Power-Flo Technologies company, is looking forward to continued growth to hire additional employees throughout the upstate New York region to help support the local jobs market," AAI said.
But the employees who were let go remain frustrated with Power-Flo's decision to cut staff in Auburn and how their terminations were handled. All but one of the ex-workers who spoke to The Citizen said they are unemployed.
Foster, who's among those searching for a new job, believes it's odd that Power-Flo would make the cuts three weeks after taking over control of AAI.
The tornado watch means conditions are expected that could produce tornadoes. The following counties are covered by the watch that was issued Tuesday afternoon:
ALLEGANY BROOME CATTARAUGUS
CAYUGA CHAUTAUQUA CHEMUNG
CHENANGO CLINTON CORTLAND
ERIE ESSEX FRANKLIN
FULTON GENESEE HAMILTON
HERKIMER JEFFERSON LEWIS
LIVINGSTON MADISON MONROE
MONTGOMERY NIAGARA ONEIDA
ONONDAGA ONTARIO ORLEANS
OSWEGO OTSEGO SCHUYLER
SENECA ST. LAWRENCE STEUBEN
TIOGA TOMPKINS WARREN
WAYNE WYOMING YATES
The 24-year-old told Judge Mark Fandrich that he committed one count of third-degree rape and one count of promoting a sexual performance by a child when he filmed himself having sex with a 15-year-old girl last September. Corrado also pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree robbery for helping another Auburn man rob the Kwik Fill convenience store on Genesee Street roughly a week later.
But now, Corrado says none of that was true.
In court Tuesday, Corrado denied both crimes, claiming he was being "threatened with double digits" by the Cayuga County District Attorney's Office when it came to sentencing. That was why he took a plea bargain back in June, he said.
Fandrich was planning to sentence Corrado to a total of five years in prison and two years post-release supervision. However, when asked if Corrado had anything to say, the defendant said he had felt pressured to plead guilty.
"I didn't do anything," Corrado said. "I didn't do what I'm in here for, and I don't feel comfortable taking this."
In response, District Attorney Jon Budelmann denied threatening Corrado with a longer sentence. He said the law states that Corrado could face a maximum of 15 years in prison for the robbery and up to 11 years in prison for rape.
"He took responsibility for the robbery, but downplayed the sexual assault of a child," Budelmann said, noting that Corrado claimed he did not know the teen was underage.
After some back and forth between Corrado, the defense and the district attorney, Corrado once again changed his mind and asked Fandrich to sentence him to the original agreed-upon term. But the judge said no.
"I'm no longer comfortable sentencing you today," Fandrich said. "You need to have a serious discussion with your attorney."
Fandrich adjourned sentencing one month to allow Corrado time to file a motion to withdraw his plea. If Corrado does withdraw his plea, his defense attorney, Norman Chirco, asked to be relieved of the case.
Meanwhile, Corrado was remanded to Cayuga County Jail without bail. He is due back in court Sept. 19.