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Published: Monday, August 27, 2007

Police: Whitehall man arrested after he held former girlfriend against her will

WHITEHALL * A Whitehall man was jailed Friday after he allegedly held his ex-girlfriend against her will, vandalized her car and home and threatened to kill her, police said.

Brandon K. Bakerian, 24, of 92 Broadway, was charged with felony counts of unlawful imprisonment, aggravated criminal contempt and attempted assault in the 1:30 a.m. incident at his ex-girlfriends home in the village of Whitehall, said Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle.

Bakerian also faces a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment, LaChapelle said.

The aggravated criminal contempt charge alleges

Bakerian hurt the woman in violation of an order of protection.

The victim was not seriously hurt, LaChapelle said.

Police said Bakerian went to the home and confronted the woman, but left before police arrived.

He was arrested by State Police a short time later at a Broadway home near his residence, LaChapelle said.

Bakerian was arraigned in Whitehall Village Court and was sent to Washington County Jail for lack of bail.

 Whitehall Police Patrolman Craig Fifield handled the case, assisted by the State Police.




 Task force may return

 County officials mull resurrection of group to stop drug activity

By Don Lehman

Published: Saturday, August 04, 2007

Washington County officials believe a move to resurrect a countywide drug task force, and also have the Sheriff's Office remain part of a federal drug task force, will result in better investigation of illegal drug activity in the county.

Police in the county decided this week to bring back the Washington County Drug Task Force, which was made up of the Sheriff's Office, State Police and village police departments in the county until it was disbanded more than two years ago when local police agencies joined a federally run regional task force.

But in addition to starting up the countywide organization, the Sheriff's Office will also re-assign an officer to the Capital District Drug Task Force to replace Deputy Scott Stark, who left the task force after a dispute over the handling of a case.

The Sheriff's Office was one of five local police agencies that were part of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration-run Capital District Drug Task Force until earlier this summer, when the Glens Falls Police Department and Washington County Sheriff's Office pulled out of the effort.

Glens Falls Police left over manpower issues and a desire to have the department's drug officer, Detective Sgt. Lloyd Swartz, spend more time on local drug cases.

Leclaire pulled his office from the task force in part over concerns that information Stark developed about an accused drug dealer from Granville was not acted on at the direction of task force administrators, and that man -- Samuel Jones -- days later led police on a high-speed chase, after which he was charged with trying to kill a Vermont state trooper. He also is accused of possessing several ounces of cocaine during the chase.

Police agencies from Washington and Warren counties met this week in part to discuss how to proceed with drug investigation cooperation in the wake of the task force departures.

Leclaire said he has decided to assign Deputy Terry Markham to the Capital District Drug Task Force, for which the Sheriff's Office gets a partial financial reimbursement.

But the countywide task force, which would be made up of the Sheriff's Office, State Police and whatever village police departments in the county want to participate, will also be brought back.

It appears most of the six village departments will take part in the countywide task force, which allows the agencies to share information and resources, such as officers for undercover efforts.

George Bell, chief of the Cambridge/Greenwich Police Department, and Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle, said they believed the move to the Capital District Drug Task Force resulted in fewer resources being dedicated to help the smaller, rural police agencies that could not afford to assign a full-time officer to the federal group.

"The DEA is interested in the big picture, which is well and good, but for small villages like Cambridge and Greenwich, we have to worry about the street level cases -- people selling to 16-year-olds, quality of life crimes," Bell said.

Hudson Falls Deputy Police Chief Randy Diamond said his department didn't get as much cooperation from the Capital District Drug Task Force as it would have hoped because officers were frequently tied up with cases in the Albany area. Diamond said the department is exploring efforts to join the local task force as well as working with Glens Falls Police.

Granville Police Chief Ernie Bassett said the countywide task force did a good job targeting "lower-level" dealers, but having a Washington County connection to the federal task force will help as well.

Meanwhile, the Glens Falls Police Department is working to re-establish the Warren County-based drug task force that preceded the department's involvement in the federal task force, which would also work with the Washington County group.

"We're going to do what we were doing before -- working with local detectives and investigators and concentrating our efforts here," said Glens Falls Police Chief Joseph Bethel.

The Warren County Sheriff's Office will continue to be a member of the Capital District Drug Task Force but will also have an investigator assigned to work with Swartz and the Glens Falls-based effort, Sheriff Larry Cleveland said.

"You see a lot of drug activity that flips back and forth between Warren and Washington counties," said Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright. "When the heat gets on in Glens Falls, they move to Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, or vice versa."




Man injured in area assault


Published: Saturday, July 28, 2007

WHITEHALL -- A Whitehall man was being treated in the intensive care unit of Glens Falls Hospital late Friday after he was beaten behind a convenience store Thursday night, police said.

The victim, Scott Parker, 22, suffered a possible skull fracture and facial injuries after he was attacked by another man behind the Stewart's Shop in the village, said Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle.

Several people witnessed the incident and told police that Jeremy M. Graves, 21, of Elizabeth Street, Whitehall "sucker-punched" Parker, LaChapelle said. Graves was charged with first-degree assault, a felony, because of the severity of Parker's injuries, police said.

Graves told police that Parker shoved him first, and that he only shoved Parker, the chief said.

Whitehall Police, Washington County sheriff's officers and State Police sought Graves for much of the day Friday, until Graves called Whitehall Police from a home in Glens Falls Friday afternoon to arrange to turn himself in, LaChapelle said.

Graves apparently believed Parker had vandalized his car recently by scrapping it with a key, police said.

Witnesses said Graves hid behind the store as Parker was walking out, and Graves then attacked without warning, LaChapelle said.

"He (Parker) was just walking to the back, and he (Graves) sucker-punched him," the chief said. "He lost a lot of blood."

Witnesses told police Graves slammed Parker's head into the pavement, LaChapelle said.

Graves was arraigned in Whitehall Village Court and was sent to Washington County Jail for lack of bail.

Parker, of 222 Broadway, was in the intensive care unit and was listed in fair condition Friday afternoon, said Glens Falls Hospital spokesman Ray Agnew.

First-degree assault is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. Whitehall Police were seeking to talk to anyone who may have witnessed the incident. They can be reached at 747-3325.




 Say what?

P.S.: Notes from our notebooks

Published: Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Over the years, longtime reporters and editors at The Post-Star have heard a lot of unusual things come over the police scanner, which buzzes constantly in the newsroom 24/7 through speakers placed on each set of desks.

But a report that came over early Wednesday afternoon was a new one on all of us.

At about 1 p.m., the entire newsroom did a double-take as police reported an accident on the Champlain Canal in Whitehall involving a boat and a cow.

"Did he just say a boat and a cow?" someone asked.

That was followed by a brief discussion about whether cows can even swim, and if so, whether they do the doggie paddle.

Turns out the report, however bizarre, was true.

A 6-year-old cow cooling itself in the shallow water of Wood Creek and the Champlain Canal apparently drowned when it was swamped by the wake of a passing boat.

-- Mark Mahoney




 Boos and Bravos

Published: Monday, June 25, 2007

Boos to the idiot(s) who put up derogatory signs around Whitehall earlier this month chastising migrant workers. This was no drunken, spur-of-the-moment retaliation for some offense. The perpetrators of this sign caper had taken great care, a bit of expense, and a considerable undertaking of time in making the signs and distributing them at Veterans Park, the corner of Buckley Road and Route 4, and even at the Little League field. The migrant workers perform a valuable service in the community, working hard at jobs that support the local agricultural industry and filling low-paying, arduous jobs the locals won't take. The police chief and neighbors of the migrant workers report that the visiting workers are polite and cause no trouble while they're in town. So why the signs? Take a guess. No ethic group deserves to be the victim of discrimination, much less a group of hard-working, legal immigrants just trying to support their families.

Bravos to state Trooper Robert Van Anden for not compromising his position when he pulled over a Warren County prosecutor for driving while intoxicated. Any time a police officer faces the prospect of arresting a prominent citizen, there has to be a certain pressure to go easy on that person or to overlook certain behaviors. The pressure can be direct or implied, and it can come from direct supervisors, the public or the individual himself. Trooper Van Anden bowed to no such pressure, nor did the trooper's supervisors. We know the State Police operate with integrity. It's nice to see it displayed so prominently.



Signs slam migrant workers

Whitehall Officials surprised by outburst of derogatory material


Published: Sunday, June 24, 2007

WHITEHALL -- The population of Hispanic migrant workers that descends on the village and town each spring has been a source of controversy for several years.

Some in the overwhelmingly white areas of Whitehall and Fort Ann have not always been so welcoming to the Mexican and Guatemalan men who toil in stone quarries and for landscaping companies.

Still, the recent discovery of apparently derogatory signs about the region and the workers it hosts that were posted around the village and town of Whitehall has surprised some for its brazenness.

Police and municipal officials have removed at least three wooden signs from various areas of the village and town of Whitehall earlier this month.

Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle said he pulled up one that bore the phrase, "Little Mexico," posted at Veterans Park, while he said another that said, "Welcome to Mexico," was put up at the intersections of Buckley Road and Route 4.

"I was told there was also one at the Little League field on county Route 12, but I didn't see that one," he said.

No such signs were visible around the village or parts of the town Thursday morning.

At the Village Hall on Thursday, Carol Greenough, Whitehall's heritage area coordinator, said she'd heard about the signs but hadn't seen any herself.

Greenough and Village Hall visitor Ken Bartholomew said the workers cause few problems around town. Greenough said her son lives near a house that is shared by a number of migrant workers, and said they are "very good neighbors."

"We have a lot of them in town, but they're always quiet," Bartholomew said. "When they walk by you on the street, they're polite and say 'hello.' "

Bartholomew pointed out that they don't take jobs from local people, but instead are hired to fill jobs that local companies demonstrate they can't fill.

"They know if they get in trouble, they're on an airplane headed south," he said.

Bartholomew said the only day the workers are visible around town is Sunday, the day they generally have off from work.

Leonard Field, owner of Honey's Bait & Tackle in Whitehall, said the hostility some area residents have toward the migrant workers stems from the belief some people have that the federal government subsidizes their employers.

"I know a lot of people around here don't like them," he said. "I think that's why people have issues with them."

LaChapelle said village police have had few problems with the migrant workers over the last three years or so.

Many who came into the country illegally were arrested when quarries first started bringing large numbers of workers to the area beginning around 2000.

"They're hard workers and we don't have many problems with them," he said.

Whoever has been putting up the signs obviously put some time and money into them, the chief said. They used stencils and adhesive letters and painted the wood.

The person or persons responsible could be charged with violating the village's sign ordinance, which requires approval of signs, the chief said.

"They're hard workers and we don't have many problems with them," he said.

Whoever has been putting up the signs obviously put some time and money into them, the chief said. They used stencils and adhesive letters and painted the wood.

The person or persons responsible could be charged with violating the village's sign ordinance, which requires approval of signs, the chief said.



Wading bovine killed by boat

Farmer wants driver prosecuted in case


Published: Friday, June 22, 2007

WHITEHALL -- For years, Paul Boule's cows have waded in Wood Creek and the Champlain Canal without any problems.

Until Tuesday afternoon.

That 's when a boater or boaters on the canal apparently killed the 6-year-old heifer, a death that is under investigation by State Police.

Boule is not sure how it happened, but on Tuesday, he got a phone call from an acquaintance telling him it appeared one of his cows was dead in the canal. He said a neighbor saw the cow prone in the water shortly after "two big boats" passed it.

Boule said he did not think the cow was hit, but that passing boats might have knocked it over with their wake, causing the cow to drown.

He said the cow -- one of 29 he owns -- wouldn't go in water over its head. They just wade up to their bellies when hot.

"They don't go out there and swim," he said.

He said the cow was worth about $2,000, and had just had a calf.

"I think these boats should be held accountable," he said.

Trooper Thomas Safford is investigating the matter. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle, who initially fielded Boule's complaint but turned it over to State Police when it was determined the incident happened outside the village, said speeding boats have been a problem on the canal in the village, particularly in the no-wake area around Whitehall Marina.

He said written traffic logs are kept at the canal locks, so police will be able to determine who was passing through around the time the cow died.

Whitehall is at the end of the canal, so the Thruway Authority and State Police enforcement that exists on other parts of the state canal system is not as prevalent.

LaChapelle said village police have looked into acquiring a patrol boat but have no plans to do so in the near future.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office patrolled the canal for several years but has done away with its boat patrol for budgetary reasons. Sheriff Roger Leclaire said the department still has its patrol boat, which can be used when needed, but regular patrols of the canal and lakes in the county have ceased indefinitely.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the incident occurred Wednesday.




Law shuts out sex offenders in most villages

Rules created to protect schools, parks, day care block convict residency


Published: Tuesday, June 05, 2007

If you're a registered sex offender looking for a new place to live in Washington County, the village of Whitehall is not for you.

In fact, none of the villages in the county can welcome sex offenders with open arms these days, thanks to a new county law that bans such individuals from living within 1,000 feet of schools, parks or day care facilities.

Warren and Saratoga counties have also passed similar laws.

But Washington County's high number of villages -- there are nine -- where the county's population is clustered has resulted in most of the villages being all but off-limits to relocating sex offenders.

"There's only a few spots in the village (of Whitehall) where they could actually live," said Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle.

"It blocks out pretty much every village in the county," Washington County attorney Roger Wickes said of the law.

With the villages and their residents come schools, day care facilities and parks. The sex offender law bans registered offenders from living within 1,000 feet of such child-frequented places.

But the villages are also home to most of the county's rental properties, which has created a quandary.

Police, probation officers and municipal officials in the county's towns and villages recently received copies of maps produced by the county's Office of Real Property Tax Service. Wickes said the office also compiled a list of each specific property that is off-limits, which police agencies also received.

The law has not resulted in offenders being forced from homes they had established before the law took effect in January. Instead, it bars registered sex offenders from moving into homes within the prohibited areas.

Police and county officials said the law has already been used to keep sex offenders from moving to homes that are in restricted areas.

Bill McCarty, director of the Office of Real Property Tax Service, said he and Wickes had to try to calm down one sex offender who became irate after he was told he could not move to a specific address in Granville. Wickes said he had to explain the situation to another offender Friday.

The maps show that much of the county's most populated section, the Hudson Falls-Kingsbury-Fort Edward area, is out-of-bounds for registered sex offenders. In Hudson Falls, there is only one small slice of the village's northwest corner to which a sex offender could legally move.

Meanwhile, rural areas have far fewer off-limits areas. The town of Hartford, for instance, has just one prohibited part of town, around Hartford Central School.

Some supervisors in rural areas of the county voted against the measure because of a fear their communities would be where offenders would seek housing, said Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright.

Hudson Falls Deputy Police Chief Randy Diamond said he informed two sex offenders Thursday that they could not move to apartments in the village because of the law.

He said the law, and the sex offender registry law, have made far more work for police than many people realize.

"The public doesn't realize the demand it puts on a small police department," he said. "I've got almost 70 sex offenders living here in the village that we have to keep track of."

While laws restricting where sex offenders can live have been somewhat controversial, and can bring a misdemeanor criminal charge for those who violate the law in Washington County, Kortright said they serve a purpose.

Kortright, though, said the county had no choice but to enact such a law when other counties in the region enacted similar legislation.

"When the other counties did it, we had to do it, or they all would have moved here," he said. "If it saves one kid from being molested, then it's worth it."



ATV Driver who hit Police car pleads guilty

Published: Thursday, June 07, 2007


WHITEHALL * A Whitehall man has pleaded guilty to drunken driving and reckless driving charges in a crash he had with a Whitehall Police car last fall, and a passenger on his ATV has filed legal action against the village in connection with the collision.

Mark W. Rozell, 22, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges in the Sept. 23 crash in which he slammed an all-terrain vehicle into the front of a Whitehall Police sport utility vehicle.


Rozell had evaded police minutes earlier, and had his headlights off as he rode down railroad tracks to try to evade police before dawn, officials said.

Patrolman Thomas Ruby had turned into the railroad yard off Second Avenue, with his headlights on, when the ATV hit his patrol vehicle.


Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle said the officer had pulled the Dodge Durango onto the tracks to watch for the ATV and to check to see if anyone had been injured on or by the four-wheeler.

A passenger on Rozell's vehicle, Nigel Reeks, 22, of Whitehall, suffered a serious neck injury in the collision, officials said.

A lawyer for Reeks filed a notice of claim against the village, alleging police acted improperly when trying to apprehend Rozell.

A notice of claim is the precursor to a lawsuit and is required before someone sues a municipality in New York. It gives the sides an opportunity to negotiate a settlement without formal court action.


Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright said the evidence showed Rozell was responsible for the collision.


"They (police) weren't chasing him at the time. They had lost him," he said. "The patrol car wasn't moving. He (Rozell) came around the corner and hit the patrol car."


He said a video camera in a Whitehall Police patrol car videotaped Rozell driving recklessly, weaving in and out of traffic, before the crash.

Rozell was charged with felony reckless endangerment, but that count was dropped as part of a plea deal that required he plead guilty to misdemeanor driving while intoxicated and reckless driving and spend 3 years on probation.

LaChappelle said it was his understanding Reeks has since recovered to the point where he is working in a Whitehall-area stone quarry.

Reeks is also able to drive an ATV, as evidenced by his recent arrest.

Whitehall Police charged Reeks with DWI after spotting him riding a four-wheeler on West Street without a helmet about 2:20 a.m. on May 19, LaChapelle said.




Man arrested in theft, again

Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2007


WHITEHALL * Gary L. Walrath apparently didn't learn his lesson when he was arrested last year on charges of stealing scrap metal in the village of Whitehall.

Fifteen months after he was charged with stealing more than $1,000 worth of scrap metal from a Broadway business, Walrath and a friend were charged Friday with stealing more than a ton of scrap steel from along railroad tracks in Dresden, said Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle.

They were arrested after a pickup truck Walrath was driving broke down on Route 22 just inside the village line, police said.

Village police who arrested him last year recognized him from the prior case, and questioned whether the truckload of steel was ill-gotten as well.


Walrath, 52, of River Street, Hudson Falls, and a passenger in his truck, Eric Granger, 34, of McDonald Street, Glens Falls, admitted the steel plates had been taken from railroad tracks in Dresden, police said.

The two men apparently planned to sell them to a scrap yard, and they were worth about $177, LaChapelle said.

The thieves did not take them off tracks. The plates had been piled alongside the tracks by railroad employees, LaChapelle said.

LaChapelle said Walrath was convicted of a misdemeanor and sentenced to probation for the 2006 theft of two vehicles and several large steel plates from a business in Whitehall.

Walrath and Granger were each charged with a misdemeanor count of fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and released pending prosecution in Whitehall Village Court.

CP Railroad Police charged them with criminal trespass; state conservation Officer Ben Bramlage charged Walrath for having an uncovered load; and village police Patrolman Jeff Whalen charged Walrath with having an unregistered vehicle that also did not have insurance, police said.


The rising price of metal has caused a big rise in the number of complaints police get for theft of scrap metal.




RAVE against rage

Student group holds Anti-Violence Week at Whitehall School

Published: Friday, May 18, 2007


WHITEHALL -- Wearing his trademark polyester suit and mop of brown hair, the International Man of Mystery himself made an appearance at Whitehall High School on Thursday morning, dancing into the auditorium to the beat of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive."

But Austin Powers had a stern message to deliver to the 9th- through 12th-graders sitting before him as he told the story of his latest dating adventure.

While dancing at a night club not too long ago, he said, he met a woman who promised to date him if only he would read a book about feminism.

After reading the book and watching a movie about how women are objectified in the media, he had an epiphany.

"I'm part of the problem, baby!"

Just like that, Austin Powers -- his words spoken through actor and anti-violence educator Ben Atherton-Zeman -- became a crusader against violence towards women, joining a growing number of men fighting to change the attitudes and cultures that define masculinity.

Among these are Whitehall High School's Railroaders Against Violence Everywhere, a group of five young men trying to spread the word that men are instrumental in putting an end to domestic violence.

RAVE was born at the beginning of the school year, when Principal Kelly McHugh sought help to end some of the violence and bullying that occurs regularly at Whitehall and many other high schools. With the help of the Domestic Violence Project and Washington County Sexual Trauma And Recovery Services (STARS), RAVE began meeting regularly and planned Anti-Violence Week, which culminated Thursday in Atherton-Zeman's performance, "Voices of Men."

Anti-Violence Week was an opportunity for RAVE to both reveal its message and recruit new members for the group, which would otherwise disintegrate when four of its founding members graduate this June.

"We all know most men don't rape. So where are the voices of these men?" Atherton-Zeman asked the students at the beginning of the performance. "Most times, the voices of men, we tend to stay kind of quiet. If you're part of a group that is committing violence, it is your responsibility to speak up."

Throughout the presentation, images portraying the effects of domestic violence flashed across the screen of the darkened auditorium. One showed a terrified child huddled in a stairway, as his father beat his mother.

The statistics were equally startling. Every 12 seconds in the United States, a man abuses a woman. Every 2 minutes, a man rapes a woman.

But the stories that hit closest to home were those of men controlling their girlfriends by calling them incessantly, sending them hundreds of text messages and criticizing them for the way they act, dress, or look.

"I don't think there's that much actual violence in our high school," said Kelsey Carey, after

the show. "But definitely, walking through the halls, you can see that there's a lot of unhealthy relationships."

Such relationships, which begin in high school, are precursors to more blatant violence, said Atherton-Zeman, who spent years working in rape crisis centers and battered women's shelters before becoming an educator.

"I think people tend to link dating violence with other forms of teen violence," he said. "And I think it's really different. It's less physical, more control. I'm dating you; I get to tell you what clothes you can and cannot wear. I get to call you fat and stupid and lazy and crazy. From what I hear from survivors of abuse, that kind of psychological control absolutely is a precursor to physical violence."

Judging by the number of men who stood up to recite a pledge at the conclusion of the performance -- nearly all rose to their feet -- RAVE's message was well-received.

Together, they promised, "I pledge to never commit, condone, or remain silent about men's violence against women. I choose to respect, listen to, seek equality with every person I date, and every person I know."

RAVE's founding members said they were encouraged by the 30 signatures of students who signed up to join the group this week.




Whitehall man on probation kicked window out and stole liquor from local bar

Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2007



HAMPTON * A Whitehall man on probation for a sex offense was arrested Friday on charges he burglarized a Hampton bar earlier in the day, police said.

Seth M. Scott, 20, of 138 North Williams St. was charged with third-degree burglary and third-degree criminal mischief, both felonies, and the misdemeanor of petit larceny in the 2:30 a.m break-in at Hog's Breath Saloon on Campbell Lane, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Scott is accused of kicking out a window in a door to get into the bar after it closed and stealing liquor, Sheriff Roger Leclaire said. Another window was broken, and mustard was sprayed around a kitchen area, police said. Footprints at the scene helped police link the break-in to Scott, the sheriff said. One bottle was recovered at a home in Whitehall, the sheriff said.

Leclaire said at least one more arrest is expected.

Scott was arraigned in Fort Ann Town Court and was sent to Washington County Jail for lack of bail. He is on probation for a misdemeanor forcible touching conviction that came after he was arrested last year on a felony attempted rape count.

Sheriff's officers were assisted by Whitehall Police in the case.




Whitehall man charged with incest and criminal sale of controlled subatance

Published: Monday, April 16, 2007



WHITEHALL -- A Whitehall man has been charged with incest and criminal sale of a controlled substance, both felonies, following an investigation by the Whitehall Police Department.

Phillip P. Battease, 47, of Main Street, was arrested after police said they received a report on Saturday of a possible sexual assault.

Police said Battease gave narcotics to a blood relative before having sexual contact with the individual.

He was arraigned in Whitehall Village Court and then sent to Washington County Jail for lack of bail.




'Trey' Anastasio pleads guilty to drug possession


Updated: Friday, April 13, 2007 12:25 PM EDT


FORT EDWARD -- A world-renowned rock star will move to the area in the coming days, and he'll be staying at least three months.

Former Phish frontman Ernest "Trey" Anastasio resolved his drug possession case Friday in Washington County Court by pleading guilty to a felony charge and agreeing to participate in the county's drug treatment court.

The treatment court program will require him to live within an hour of Fort Edward for at least the first three months of the program, so he can take random drug and alcohol tests as required by the program's administrators. The first phase requires participants to call the administrators every morning and come to the Municipal Center to give a urine sample if requested during that phone call.

Anastasio would not discuss the matter when he left court Friday. But his lawyer, Steve Coffey, said Anastasio has picked a place to live in the area, though Coffey would not say where. Anastasio already has homes in Richmond, Vt., and New York City.

Participating in drug court will also put a temporary halt to the guitar player/vocalist's musical touring, Coffey said.

"He's accepted that," Coffey said.

Anastasio's 15-minute hearing before Judge Kelly S. McKeighan drew a media throng, as the former member of the jam band Phish cut a plea deal that could see him land in state prison for 1 to 3 years if he does not complete the drug court program.

If he does complete the 12-month program, McKeighan will sentence him to 5 years of probation and would entertain a request by Anastasio's lawyer to withdraw his guilty plead to a felony charge of attempted fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Instead, he would be allowed to enter a subsequent plea to a misdemeanor charge.

"Whether that happens will be up to the judge," Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright said.

Kortright said the plea deal Anastasio accepted was the standard offer for first-time offenders charged with drug possession.

"We try to treat the (drug) users and send the dealers to prison," he said.

Anastasio spoke softly as he answered McKeighan's questions. He admitted illegally possessing more than a half-ounce of the prescription painkillers Vicodin and Percocet, the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and heroin when he was pulled over by Whitehall Police the morning of Dec. 15. He was driving through the village on his way to Vermont when he was seen swerving.

Lesser charges of driving while intoxicated by drugs, misdemeanor drug possession and driving without a license were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

The drug court program has four phases, the first being the most intense. If Anastasio gets through that part, he might not be required to go to Fort Edward for frequent urine tests and might be able to move back to one of his homes, Kortright said.

Through the 12-month program, though, he will be required to attend court sessions before McKeighan every two weeks, during which the judge is briefed on each participant's progress. He will also meet with program administrators at least every two weeks. His first appearance in court will be next week, and those sessions are not open to the public.

He also will be required to take drug and alcohol tests and attend therapy as required. Problems, such as missing appointments or testing positive for drug or alcohol use, can result in sanctions that include short stints in Washington County Jail.

Anastasio will be formally sentenced after he either completes the program or fails it. No sentencing date was set.

Coffey said he does not believe his client will have trouble doing what will be required. He said Anastasio took part in an inpatient rehabilitation program shortly after his arrest and has been sober since.

"He's committed to this," Coffey said. "I'm as confident as anyone can be."

Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle, who was involved in the arrest of Anastasio, said he believes Anastasio did not get special treatment when compared to other offenders charged during similar circumstances. He said he also got an impression from Anastasio during the arrest that he wanted to get help for his addiction.

"I think he was sincere," the chief said. "Maybe he can get through that program and can set a good example."




'Trey' Anastasio could take plea deal


Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2007


FORT EDWARD -- Ernest "Trey" Anastasio, the former frontman of the jam-rock band Phish, has been offered a plea deal to a reduced drug-possession charge, which, if he accepts, could wrap up his case Friday.

Anastasio, 42, of Richmond, Vt., would likely appear in Washington County Court that day if he agrees to plead guilty to fifth-degree attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance and to enroll in a drug court program, said Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright.

A conference was conducted Tuesday, during which Kortright, Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan and Anastasio's attorney, Stephen Coffey, discussed the plea deal. Anastasio was not present.

Coffey said he must first discuss the plea deal with Anastasio.

"There is a potential plea on Friday. We have not firmed anything up, and we are going to have to wait and see what happens Friday morning," Coffey told reporters outside the courthouse Tuesday morning.

Court is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Friday, though Anastasio's case will be among others on the docket that day. If he agrees to the plea deal, Anastasio must be present in court to enter the plea.

"It's just like every other case," Kortright said. "It's going to work its process, no matter what happens. It will move along to a trial or resolution."

Kortright has said his office will make the same plea offer to Anastasio that it makes to others charged with drug possession. Such defendants with limited criminal records usually do not receive jail sentences, but are required to take part in drug treatment programs, such as the county drug court.

Anastasio has been undergoing drug treatment since his Dec. 15 arrest. Kortright said he did not know the details of that treatment, so it is not known if that program can count toward whatever requirement is made of Anastasio as part of the plea agreement.

Community service is also included in the plea deal, though Kortright said he was unsure of how much would be required.

Coffey said it is possible Anastasio can complete his treatment in Washington County.

"He is willing, if he pleas, to do whatever he has to do to get himself better, and if that entails coming to Washington County and doing some treatment program here or some kind of modification of that, whatever it may be, he is willing to do it," Coffey said.

Whitehall Police arrested Anastasio after he was pulled over for swerving while driving through the village. He was charged with possessing heroin and driving under the influence of drugs, both misdemeanors.

Anastasio also faces a seven-count indictment that includes a felony charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance, which accuses him of possessing prescription painkiller pills and an anti-anxiety drug without prescriptions when police arrested him.




'Trey' Anastasio case returns to court Tuesday 


Updated: Friday, April 6, 2007 8:39 PM EDT



FORT EDWARD -- The former frontman of the jam rock band Phish may resolve his drug possession case in Washington County on Tuesday when he is due back in court.

The 9 a.m. court appearance for Ernest "Trey" Anastasio lists the case for a "conference" between lawyers and Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan.

Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright said talks of a plea deal have been ongoing since shortly after Anastasio's arrest, but he said he did not know if Anastasio would be present for Tuesday's conference. If a plea deal is reached, he will have to appear in court eventually to enter the plea.

"I think there will be a (guilty) plea at some point," Kortright said. "We've been talking about it all along."

Kortright has not said what sentence recommendation the plea talks have included.

He has said his office will make the same plea offer to Anastasio that it makes to others charged with drug possession. Such defendants with limited criminal records usually don't face jail sentences, but typically take part in drug treatment programs, such as the county drug court.

Anastasio, 42, of Richmond, Vt., faces a seven-count indictment that includes a felony charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance that accuses him of possessing prescription painkiller pills and an anti-anxiety drug without prescriptions when he was arrested by Whitehall Police on Dec. 15. He also faces misdemeanor charges for allegedly having heroin and driving under the influence of drugs when he was pulled over for swerving while driving through the village.

A call to Anastasio's lawyer, Stephen Coffey, was not returned Friday.

But when Anastasio was arraigned in February, Coffey said Anastasio "has a narcotic problem, and he's dealing with it," and, "his hope is he can get on with his life and avoid incarceration."

Anastasio took part in an in-patient drug rehabilitation program after his arrest, Coffey said at the time.




Trey draws crowd at court

Fort Edward | Fans of former Phish frontman show for not-guilty plea



Published on 2/28/2007

FORT EDWARD -- Rock star Ernest "Trey" Anastasio pleaded not guilty to drug charges Tuesday in Washington County Court amid a media throng and a group of his fans.

Anastasio's lawyer said after the proceeding that he doubted there'd be a trial in the case. He said it's likely his client will eventually plead guilty in the case in hopes of avoiding a jail sentence.

"He just wants to get in, get out and get this behind him," lawyer Steve Coffey said. "He has a narcotic problem, and he's dealing with it. ... His hope is he can get on with his life and avoid incarceration."

He said Anastasio has already spent several weeks in a rehabilitation program founded by fellow musician Eric Clapton in the Caribbean.

Coffey entered a not-guilty plea on Anastasio's behalf to a seven-count indictment charging the former Phish frontman with illegally possessing heroin, prescription painkillers and a prescription anti-anxiety drug when he was pulled over in the village of Whitehall on Dec. 15.

Reporters from around New York and Vermont -- as well as a half-dozen fans of Anastasio and Phish -- packed the courtroom to watch the 10-minute proceeding.

The arraignment came after Coffey, Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright and Judge Kelly McKeighan had a closed-door conference on the case.

McKeighan adjourned the case for a month, asking Anastasio to consent to a "pre-plea investigation" to aid in determining what sentence would be appropriate should he be convicted. Anastasio agreed to the pre-plea report.

Kortright acknowledged his office has had plea deal discussions with Coffey, but he would not say what they entailed.

"We'll make the same offer for him that we'd make for any (drug) user in his situation," he said.

He said his office generally wants to ensure that a person with a drug problem seeks treatment -- often in a drug court program -- and is supervised, typically on probation.

Anastasio, 42, of New York City and Richmond, Vt., faces a felony charge alleging he criminally possessed a controlled

substance, as well as misdemeanor charges of possession of a controlled substance and charges he drove under the influence of drugs.

He was pulled over when a Whitehall Police officer spotted his 2004 Audi swerving on the road.

Anastasio would not comment as he left court Tuesday. He spoke only to answer questions posed to him by McKeighan, nodding his head and speaking in a soft voice.

With his wife, Susan, at his side, he left in a black, chauffeured van. Coffey said Anastasio believes Whitehall Police treated him properly, and he has no plans to allege he was wrongly pulled over.

"Trey made it plain to me when he first came to me. He said, 'I'm here to face the consequences and acknowledge what I did was wrong,' " Coffey said.

The group of Anastasio/Phish fans sat quietly in the back of the courtroom during the hearing. Among them were Albany residents Shane Daley and Nick Mattiello.

"We just wanted to see what's happening," Daley said.

Some of the fans made their voices heard as Coffey spoke to the media after the hearing, one yelling, "You're the man, Trey," and, "Trey is a Jedi," during an impromptu press conference.

The case was adjourned until March 27.



Three people charged in connection with providing alcohol for an underage party

Published on 2/6/2007

The Post-Star

WHITEHALL -- Three people have been charged with providing alcohol for an underage drinking party last month at a Saunders Street home, police said.

Among those charged was Kyle F. Ramey, 18, of 56-1/2 Saunders St., who hosted the party at his home to celebrate his 18th birthday, said Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle.

LaChapelle said 50 to 70 people attended the Jan. 27 party, many of them underage and who apparently had been drinking alcohol.

Police began investigating the party after getting calls from the public that day about parking problems around the home, the chief said.

Two partygoers were also charged with providing alcohol for the party, LaChapelle said. Amanda Martinez, 25, of School Street, Whitehall, and Matthew S. Atwood, 21, of Route 22, Whitehall, also were charged, he said.

The three provided beer and liquor for the party, police said.

LaChapelle said one more arrest was likely.

All three face misdemeanor charges of unlawfully dealing with a child and were released pending prosecution in Whitehall Village Court on Wednesday.

LaChapelle and Whitehall patrolmen David Price, Thomas Ruby, Tim Hardy, and Jason Vandenburgh handled the case.




Police: Man sold cocaine to informant

Published on 1/27/2007

DRESDEN -- A 22-year-old Blue Goose Road man has been charged with selling cocaine to a police informant, police said.

Jason R. Bailey, of 250 Blue Goose Road, was charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, a felony, after a several-month investigation into cocaine sales in the Whitehall area, said Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle.

LaChapelle said police believe he has been selling the drug in the region for at least several months.

Bailey was being held Friday in Washington County Jail for lack of bail.

The case was investigated by Whitehall Police, the Washington County Sheriff's Office, State Police from Granville and the State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team.




Phish frontman may give testimony at grand jury

Published on 1/13/2007

FORT EDWARD -- Might a Washington County grand jury get a private performance from a famous musician?

A county grand jury was supposed to hear testimony Thursday in the drug case against Ernest "Trey" Anastasio, former frontman of the jam rock band Phish.

But the case was postponed indefinitely when Anastasio's lawyer contacted the Washington County district attorney's office this week to indicate Anastasio may want to testify before the grand jury, a source familiar with the case said Friday. The source requested anonymity because grand jury proceedings are secret by law.

Because arrangements had to be made to give Anastasio the opportunity to testify, and his lawyer was involved in a trial downstate, the prosecutor's office decided to take the case off the calendar for the day.

A phone call to Anastasio's lawyer, Stephen Coffey, was not returned Friday. Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright said he could not discuss the case.

Anastasio, 42, of Richmond, Vt., was arrested early the morning of Dec. 15 in the village of Whitehall after his Audi sedan was spotted crossing the center line on Poultney Street, police said. He was passing through the village on his way from New York City to his home state of Vermont.

Police said he was found to have drugs, including heroin, prescription painkillers and an anti-anxiety drug, for which he did not have a prescription. He was also believed to be driving under the influence of drugs and with a suspended license, police said.

He has been charged with misdemeanor criminal possession of a controlled substance, driving under the influence of drugs and traffic charges. He pleaded not guilty last week in Whitehall Village Court.

But Kortright said last month the quantity of drugs could lead to a felony charge.

Phish was one of the world's most popular bands when it broke up in 2004, but Anastasio -- a guitar player and vocalist -- has continued his career by performing solo and with other bands.



Man charged in domestic incident

Published on 1/11/2007

The Post-Star

WHITEHALL * A local man was arrested Wednesday on felony and misdemeanor charges in connection with a domestic violence incident, police said.

Edward J. Ramey, 39, of 56-1/2 Saunders St., was charged with first-degree criminal contempt, a felony, and second-degree harassment, a misdemeanor.

Ramey was arraigned in Whitehall Village Court and remanded to the Washington County Jail for lack of bail. No other information on the arrest was available Wednesday evening. Whitehall Police Department Officer Jeffrey Whalen made the arrest. State Police Troopers James Dewar and Christopher White assisted.





Phish singer could face felony charges

Source says heroin found in Anastasio's car

By MARK MULHOLLAND Saratoga-North Country News Chief - WNYT 13

Ernest "Trey" Anastasio, the lead singer of the rock-jam band Phish, was in court in Whitehall Wednesday for his arraignment on misdemeanor drug charges.  The 42-year-old musician was smiling as he left court with his wife and children by his side.

But NewsChannel 13 has learned Anastasio had heroin in his car and it appears the district attorney is ready to up the charges against the former Phish front man to a felony.

Anastasio was arrested last month on Route 4 in Whitehall after a patrolman saw him swerve over the double yellow line.

According to court records, the arresting officer said Anastasio was hyper and his hands were shaking very badly."

Anastasio told police he'd been smoking hashish and taking pills before his arrest.

According to court documents, "Anastasio admitted...he was in an argument with his wife earlier in the day...because he was taking the pills and he had a problem."

Police searched his car and found more than a half-ounce of prescription pain killersthat's enough for a felony chargeand some anxiety medicine.

In addition, there was one item that police couldnt identify.  NewsChannel 13 has learned from law enforcement sources that Anastasio also had a quantity of heroin in the car.

Washington County's district attorney wouldn't comment on the specifics of the case, but said he plans to present it to a grand jury.

Anastasio remains free on his own recognizance.  After leaving Whitehall Court with his family, they hurried into a chauffeur-driven van and drove off.

The district attorney says it is likely Anastasio will be ordered to take part in a drug re-habilitation program to avoid going to jail.

*Article courtesy of WNYT NewsChannel 13.


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