TOBACCO SMUGGLERS FACING FEDERAL CHARGES

Eight people…. seven of them hailing from Akwesasne…. are now facing federal fraud and money laundering charges for their part in what investigators say was a scheme to smuggle tobacco grown in the United States into Canada in an effort to avoid paying both U.S. and Canadian taxes. The investigation has been underway for the past three years…. after it was kicked off in the fall of 2016. That’s when they say a tobacco broker in Rochester was thought to be buying rag tobacco grown in North Carolina, and then selling it to several illegal cigarette manufacturers in Akwesasne. Those manufacturers are now accused of using the tobacco to manufacture untaxed tobacco products, and then using cars, trucks, snowmobiles and boats to smuggle the bulk tobacco into Canada. Those now facing a string of felony charges include Bernard Perkins of Rochester; Crymson Aldrich of Akwesasne; Crystal King of Akwesasne; Anthony Laughing Jr. of Akwesasne; Lawrence Mitchell of Akwesasne; Curtis Thompson of Akwesasne; Jonathan Thompson of Akwesasne; and Joseph Thompson… also of Akwesasne. Each truckload of illegal tobacco they are accused of smuggling, contained nearly 32,000 pounds of tobacco… valued at roughly $94,000. The buyers would pay for their purchases in cash. In total, Perkins… according to investigators… routed $13 million to a Miami-based tobacco brokerage firm.

DEVELOPER WANTS TO TURN FRANKLIN COUNTY MANURE INTO CA$H

A developer wants to make money in Franklin County by buying farmer’s manure…

(A company called Darling Transportation Solutions out of Schenectady says it’s eyeing Franklin County for a project that would transform manure into energy. Company representatives recently met with the Franklin County Solid Waste Management Authority to discuss methane gas. Darling already has a similar project up and running in New Hampshire, but the landfill they’re working with there may be closing within the next few years. Darling has applied with the New York tate Energy Research and Development Authority for business incentives. They expect to know within the next couple of months whether or not they’ll get funding. No decisions were made at the Franklin County meeting. The next step would be to do a feasibility study, which could take more than a year to complete. The solid waste authority plans to discuss the business proposal with the full Franklin County Legislature within the next few weeks.)

BANGOR SOLAR PLAN UNDER REVISIONS

In Bangor, officials say they plan to make some adjustments to their proposed local law governing solar energy projects… that’s the result of a nearly two-hour public hearing where many residents raised concerns about what they considered gaps in the proposal. There were two main areas of concern in which those who spoke out, say they felt the proposed law failed to protect property owners… setback requirements and decommissioning after a project reached the end of its usable life. There was much concern over a provision of the law as written, that would allow placement of a solar array too close to a property line, especially if the adjoining property did not currently contain a residence. After discussion, the Town Board agreed to revisit the setback requirement. As for those who voiced concerns about what would happen to residential solar arrays after they were no longer in use, well… under the law as it stands now, developers of larger solar projects are required to post a bond that would cover the cost of removing old solar arrays, but the law does not contain similar provisions for residential arrays. But the Town code enforcement officer… Craig Peters… pointed to the state law which includes fines for up to $250 per day for a property owner that does not properly get rid of unused solar arrays. The residents then suggested incorporating that penalty into the local law to give the town more enforcement power. According to the Malone Telegram, the town board agreed to review the proposed law after listening to the residents’ comments, and then prepare a revised version over the coming weeks.

TWO VEHICLE CRASH LEAVES INJURIES IN ALTONA

A two vehicle crash just after 7:30 Wednesday morning on State Route 190 in the town of Altona, remains under investigation today. State Police say a Honda CRV driven by 18 year old Abigail Marshal of Peru, was northbound, when for some unknown reason, it crossed over into the southbound lane, sideswiping two other vehicles before slamming headon into a Ford Fusion being driven by 48 year old Rita Charland of Chateaugay. Both drivers were taken by ambulance to the University of Vermont Healthcare Network at the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh… both suffering serious injuries. Charland was later flown to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, Vermont for further treatment. At last report, she was listed in critical condition. None of the occupants of the other two vehicles that were sideswiped, were hurt.

CRASH PROVES FATAL IN SARANAC

A crash Monday afternoon just before 5:30 on State Route 3 in the town of Saranac, involved one vehicle and left one person dead. State Police say a Jeep being driven by 18 year old Dalton Criss of Morrisonville, was eastbound, when it ran off the north shoulder, hit a utility pole and then a house. Criss and a front seat passenger, 55 year old Barbara Criss…. also of Morrisonville, had to be removed from the vehicle by Saranac Fire Department personnel, and were taken to the University of Vermont Healthcare Network at the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh by Saranac EMS. Both were later flown to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, Vermont to be treated for head and neck injuries. Dalton Criss was later pronounced dead at the hospital. At last report, Barbara Criss remains in critical condition. No one was home in the house that was hit, and nobody else was injured. The investigation into the cause of the accident remains ongoing.

NORTH COUNTRY HIGHWAY GARAGE WORK CONTINUES

It’s been a long road so to speak, but it is finally underway…. Preliminary work has been done on the renovation of one of two North Country town highway garages. Now though, the discovery of asbestos pipe insulation in the Bellmont Center garage that must be removed, has raised the price of that project by about $8,600, just as work gets underway there. 85 feet of asbestos wrapping must come down. The total project is expected to cost about $900,000… including renovations at the town garage in Owls Head too. The bid of $8,570 was the lowest for the asbestos work…. other bids came in much higher… as much as $15,000. Town Highway Department employees and subcontractors have been doing some of the work already at the Owls Head facility, and town crews have been blowing fiberglass insulation into the ceiling. They say having the work done by town employees and subcontractors, rather than a general contractor, cuts the total costs. The general contractor however, will begin what town officials call the “hard construction” on the Owls Head building on September 9th. The contract has not yet been awarded though, for the Bellmont Center garage. Updating the heating systems and installing insulation is important, because it costs tens of thousands of dollars each year to heat the two buildings. Upgrades to the heating systems and improved insulation could mean significant savings.

PROBATION REVOKED FOR PIERCEFIELD MAN WHO VIOLATED NUMEROUS TERMS OF HIS RELEASE

A Piercefield man appeard on Monday in St. Lawrence County Court, where he admitted to violating his probation. Now, 31 year old Steven Webber will have to go to treatment to avoid jail. Webber admitted to Judge Jerome J. Richards that he violated his August 20, 2018 probation sentence of three years for an assault conviction in Tupper Lake, by leaving the county without permission twice on July 26th. He also admitted to continued use of marijuana… that after he tested positive for THC. He also told the judge that he went to a party in Tupper Lake where alcohol was served, and he admitted to not having paid his $250 in court fines, fees and surcharges. Judge Richards sent Webber back to the St. Lawrence County jail, but agreed to release him on electronic home monitoring as soon as his family gets a land line phone installed. He will also have 14 days to get a substance abuse evaluation set up. Judge Richards also agreed to adjourn resentencing for four months to allow Webber to come into compliance. If he does, Mr. Webber will continue under probation supervision. If he does not, then h will face a maximum of one year in the St. Lawrence County jail.

REPEAT CHILD PORN OFFENDER HIT WITH HEAVY SENTENCE THIS TIME

A warning to those who continue to deal in child porn… a New York man is headed to prison for a long, long time for possessing child pornography for a second time! 43 year old Gary McKay of Troy, was sentenced Tuesday in Federal Court, to serve 10 years in prison, followed by a lifetime term of supervised release, after he entered a guilty plea to three counts of possession of child pornography. McKay admitted that on August 14, 2017, while on supervised release for a prior federal conviction for possession of child pornography, he possessed three electronic devices containing more than 2,500 images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. McKay previously served 30 months in prison for his prior possession conviction and was seven years into a ten-year term of supervised release at the time he committed the new offense. The judge yesterday, sentenced McKay to 10 years in prison and lifetime supervised release on each of the possession of child pornography counts to run concurrently. McKay was also sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for violating his terms of supervised release, to run concurrently to the other sentences.

SLOW DOWN OR PAY THE PRICE!

The New York State Police and the Department of Transportation on Tuesday, announced the start of “Operation Hardhat,” a joint effort to crack down on work zone violations and highlight the importance of safe driving through active construction and maintenance work zones on state highways. State troopers will be out in force, to patrol active work zones across the state this week, and they say they plan to ticket motorists who disobey flagging personnel, speed through the work zone or violate the state’s Move Over Law, which applies to emergency and work vehicles. The State Department of Transportation also recently launched a new Public Service Announcement highlighting the importance of moving over in construction work zones across the state. They say violations of the Move Over Law and work zone intrusions will not be tolerated. New York’s Move Over Law requires motorists to carefully slow down and safely move over when approaching law enforcement vehicles, fire trucks, ambulances, tow trucks, and construction and maintenance vehicles stopped along the roads. Fines are doubled for speeding in a work zone, and convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone could result in the suspension of your drivers license.

I-87 CRASH INVOLVES TRUCK AND ENCLOSED TRAILER

A single vehicle accident on Interstate 87 last evening… It happened just before 6:30 in the northbound lanes near mile post marker 108 in the town of Elizabethtown. Troopers say a pick-up truck towing an enclosed trailer ran off the western shoulder due to tire failure on the trailer. The truck and trailer then slammed into the median and both became engulfed in flames. The driver… 40 year old Justin Blankenship of North Tonawanda, was taken to University of Vermont Health Network at Elizabethtown Community hospital, where he was treated and released after suffering just minor injuries. A passenger… 50 year old Michael Massman… also of North Tonawanda… was life flighted to University of Vermont Medical Center with a punctured lung and burns to his legs. Blankenship come to find out, was unlicensed and was ticketed. State Police say both men were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident.