Items tagged with 'crime'

Where the guns come from

nys gun trace origin states ProPublica

ProPublica's map of the top states for guns recovered in New York and traced in 2012. The version on ProPublica's site is clickable, and also includes where guns from New York end up.

More than two-thirds of the guns recovered in New York State in 2012 and traced through the federal government's tracing system were originally purchased out of the state, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The new org ProPublica has compiled the ATF data for each state and put together a good visualization that allows you to see which states are the top "exporters" and "importers" of traced guns relative to other states.

The top source states for New York: Virginia (14 percent), Pennsylvania (11 percent), Florida (10 percent), Georgia (10 percent), and South Carolina (8.6 percent). The top states for guns traced back to New York: Florida (17 percent), New Jersey (9 percent), and Pennsylvania (9 percent).

Of the traces logged by the ATF in 2012, 45 percent were for guns recovered in New York City. A little less than 1 percent -- 79 guns -- were recovered in Albany.

map: ProPublica

"I'm probably the most normal crazy guy you know..."

Update 2014-01-27: Collins has pleaded guilty to attempted kidnapping.
____

It was one of the most bizarre -- and scary -- local stories of the past week: UAlbany police say a man attempted to abduct two women at a bus stop near the university's downtown campus. And in one of the incidents, they allege the man had a knife -- thankfully another student intervened and no one was hurt. [YNN] [News10]

One of the things about crime stories is that so often the people involved -- both perpetrators and victims -- end up being portrayed as one-dimensional characters. And while there are understandable reasons why that happens -- time, space, limited resources, limited attention -- it also sometimes makes it hard to remember these events are happening to real people. And maybe it also makes it harder for us to understand how and why these things happen.

The man accused in the alleged abduction attempts is 54-year-old Anthony Collins. As it happens, Collins is the subject of a documentary project by UAlbany student Shannon Straney. In the short doc, Collins talks about being diagnosed with mental illness, and Straney's project is aimed at better understanding how the condition has affected his life. Part 1 of the project is embedded above.

We got in touch with Straney this week to ask her a few questions about the documentary project, and how it's prompted her to look at the alleged incident from the past week. Here's a quick Q&A...

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Checking out the Troy crime map

troy crime map

A screengrab from this afternoon.

The Troy Police Department unveiled a new online crime map for the public today. From the press release:

With the exception of crimes related to domestic incidents and sexual assaults, all reported crime in our city will be mapped with a built in 72 hour posting delay. The delay is designed to give Investigators a "first look" at an incident and apply any limitations they see fit specifically relevant to their investigation. Once mapped, the information remains embedded in the mapping, subject to numerous choices the user can make; eg. date range, type of crime, etc. Previously noted exceptions to the mapping will always be subject to inclusion should a public safety need to post the incident be evident.

This is a good step, as we've said a bunch of times before, it'd be great to see other local municipalities head in this direction.

A few more quick thoughts:

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Milk bottle rustling

Update October 10, 2013: APD says it's arrested the guy.

From the odd alleged crime file: Someone is apparently going around Albany neighborhoods stealing bottles out of the boxes for home-delivered milk.

Bernard emails:

My family has been dealing with the lamest criminal ever for a couple of weeks now. I'd appreciate it if you could share this with your audience. My understanding from the Meadowbrook dairy folks is that they are getting many reports of stolen milk from folks in the New Scotland Ave, Center Square and South End.
This guy is basically driving his bike around 3-5 days a week from 6-7:30 in the morning to steal milk bottles. (Yes, you can still get milk delivered.) The cops and the dairy are pretty sure that he either steals empties, or dumps the full bottle so that he can return them to stores like the food coop, shop-rite, fresh market for a whopping $2.
As a geek, I of course seized this annoyance as an opportunity to buy (an incredibly cheap) wifi network camera with night vision. So here he is. Albany people, if you recognize this dude or see a guy with neon yellow sneakers stealing crap from people, please let me know and call the Albany police.

Bernard's video is embedded above.

We talked with the Albany Police Department about the situation. APD spokesman Steve Smith says they've gotten two official reports of recent milk bottle thefts -- one in the New Scotland neighborhood, the other in Center Square -- but they believe there have been "several" other incidents.

(We've also heard, secondhand, that in one case the milk was poured out before the bottle was taken. And that would be a crime -- Meadowbrook milk is delicious.)

If you have info about the bottle thefts, call the APD: (518) 438-4000.

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Feds: Men conspired to build mobile x-ray weapon. | Is that possible?

usa v crawford feight front pageUpdated

Federal prosecutors announced today that two men -- Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, of Galway and Eric J. Feight, 54, of Hudson -- have been arrested for an alleged plot in which the two conspired to build a remotely-operated mobile x-ray weapon. From the press release:

The arrests followed a lengthy investigation by the Albany FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force that began in April 2012 when authorities received information that Crawford had approached local Jewish organizations seeking out individuals who might offer assistance in helping him with a type of technology that could be used against people he perceived as enemies of Israel. ...
As charged in a Complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Albany, the essence of the defendants' scheme was the creation of a mobile, remotely operated, radiation emitting device capable of killing targeted individuals silently with lethal doses of X-ray radiation. The defendants plotted to use this device against unwitting victims who would not immediately be aware that they had absorbed lethal doses of radiation, the harmful effects of which would only appear days after the exposure. This was an undercover investigation and, unbeknownst to the defendants, the device that the defendants designed and intended to use was rendered inoperable at all times and posed no danger to the public.

The federal complaint is embedded after the jump.

In the complaint, the feds allege Crawford "identified Muslims and several other individuals/groups as targets." They allege he had contact with the KKK, and that he also tried to solicit support from local Jewish organizations to help build a weapon that could be used against Israel's enemies (the TU reports one of the orgs was Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady) -- the orgs reported Crawford and that put him on the radar with authorities. Feight was allegedly brought in to help build a device for remotely activating the radiation weapon.

The Times Union has more details from the complaint, in which the feds say Crawford never got a hold of a radiation source because an undercover FBI agent was acting as his supplier.

The allegations are unsettling and bizarre. And they prompt a lot of questions about the situation -- perhaps the primary one is whether these guys could have actually pulled off what they allegedly intended to do if the FBI hadn't been running interference.

We talked with a nuclear engineer about just that question this afternoon...

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"Apple picking" (Not the kind in an orchard.)

iphone on deskState attorney general Eric Schneiderman announced today an effort to crack down on mobile phone theft -- by leaning on the manufacturers of the phones.

Citing the prevalence of mobile theft -- and the violence that sometimes occurs along with it -- Schneiderman said in a statement: "The companies that dominate this industry have a responsibility to their customers to fulfill their promises to ensure safety and security." The AG has sent letters to heads of Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Samsung urging them to take up the issue.

How? A clip from the letter makes that more clear -- this is from the letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook:

In particular, I seek to understand why companies that can develop sophisticated handheld electronics, such as the products manufactured by Apple, cannot also create technology to render stolen devices inoperable and thereby eliminate the expanding black market on which they are sold. I would be especially concerned if device theft accrues to your company's financial benefit through increased sales of replacement devices. A recent study found that lost and stolen cell phones cost consumers over $30 billion last year.

Here's more about that analysis Schneiderman references. The "mobile security" firm behind has also conveniently agreed to "advise [Schneiderman's] office on a pro bono basis on these issues."

Coincidentally or not, Schneiderman's announcement follows a NYT story early this month that looked at the same set of issues. The article focused on making it harder for a phone to be wiped and re-used after it was reported stolen.

Mobile phone and tablet theft is apparently a big problem in New York City. Last December Michael Bloomberg blamed an increase in the city's crime index on thefts of iPhones and iPads. And the NYPD has reportedly started an Apple-product-theft task force, as well as a public campaign to register new devices -- an "Anti-Apple Picking Campaign." [NYDN] [NYT] [NY Post] [Gothamist]

State legislation: $10,000

state capitol sale sign

For the second time this week, federal prosecutors announced bribery and corruption charges against a state legislator. This time it was state Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, a Democrat from the Bronx. From US Attorney Preet Bharara's statement:

As alleged, Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was bribed to enact a statutory moratorium to give his co-defendants a local monopoly - a fairly neat trick that offends core principles of both democracy and capitalism, simultaneously, and it is exactly what the defendants managed to do. The allegations illustrate the corruption of an elected representative's core function - a legislator selling legislation.

OK, so how much do you think local monopoly-creating state legislation goes for these days? Here's some help: One of the businessmen allegedly involved in this scheme said the moratorium on the opening of new adult day care centers would cause the value of their own day care centers to "skyrocket." That's gotta be worth a lot. So Stevenson must have really raked in some serious coin for this alleged deal, especially when you consider the risks, right?

The alleged bribe: $10,000.

Yep, that's all it allegedly cost to buy a piece of state legislation that would effectively block competition for what is probably a multi-million dollar business. Just 10 grand. That's not even enough to buy a new sub-compact car.

Which leads us to wonder: Why haven't we been buying state legislation all along?! Who knew it was so cheap?! It's practically a steal! Do you get a discount if you buy in bulk? If we order it via Amazon Prime, can we have it delivered the next day (in session only)?

The fact that there is corruption in state government is already frustrating, irksome, and sad -- it's even more so when we find we're all being sold out at such a discount.

A spot in the mayoral primary
Earlier this week, state Senator Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, was charged with being part of scheme to bribe three Republican city officials to let him on their party's primary ballot for mayor of New York City. The alleged price (bribe) for that: about $100,000 paid by an intermediary -- and help getting $500k from the state for a road project.

Post-St. Patrick's Day parade fight in West Capitol Park

Albany police say they arrested two people following a fight near Washington Ave and Swan Street Saturday after the St. Patrick's Day parade. APD says it believes it's the same fight in the video that surfaced online this weekend of a brawl on the steps of West Capitol Park. Based on a rough guess from the video, it appears the fight included maybe 10-20 people with a bunch of onlookers. The video is embedded above. (Turn the sound down -- it's super annoying. Also, the camera guy probably isn't saying turnip.)

From the APD press release:

As officers were dispersing the crowd, Clint Junco, 18, Delmar, did lunge at and strike an on-duty police officer in the face with a closed fist. Junco was arrested and charged with Disorderly Conduct, Resisting Arrest, and Assaulting an Officer.
Additionally, officers arrested Najee Bennett, 17, Bethlehem, for Disorderly Conduct for engaging in tumultuous behavior.
The fight occurred after the parade had concluded and the crowd was quickly dispersed.

Full press release post jump.

Of course, this kind of thing is on everyone's radar because of the kegs 'n eggs free-for-all a few years ago. This doesn't appear to rise to that level. At all. It's not even the entirely-new-cast-except-one-minor-character, low-budget, direct-to-video sequel to kegs 'n eggs.

But -- and not to make too much out of this -- it is notable that the two people arrested for allegedly being part of this incident are both not from the city. If you talk with residents of areas such as the Lark Street/Washington Park neighborhood following a large event, you'll often hear them lament the rather jerkish behavior of people attending the parade/festival/whatever -- many of whom then head back home somewhere else, either out of the neighborhood or out of the city.

By the way: Here are a few videos from the parade itself.

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Bad pancakes

troy police department search 2013-03-05 crack pancakes

The Troy Police Department says it executed search warrants at two sites Tuesday night as part of an investigation into what it describes as "a major drug production and distribution operation."

Among the items the TPD says it found at an apartment on 16th Street: "pancakes" of crack (photo above). From the press release:

Also subject to the execution of a search warrant was the basement apartment at 2209 16th Street. Troy Police ERT was deployed to insure safe entry based upon concerns of possible weapons present. After the location was secured, Investigators located a large cache of US currency ($9300), approximately 100 grams of marihuana and a copious amount of crack cocaine, in both bulk form and packaged for sale. Within the apartment were scales, cutting agents, "cooking" utensils and drug packaging materials. Of note was the discovery of one and one-half pounds of crack cocaine in pancake form; the drug was in its bulk state, not yet cut or packaged. Live ammunition was also discovered within the apartment.

That is a lot of crack. Troy police captain John Cooney tells us the pancakes would be worth $30,000 broken up for sale. TPD says the apartment resident wasn't home at the time, and there's been no arrest, yet. (Full press release post jump.)

Cocaine trend
Crack devastated many communities during the 80s and 90s. And obviously it's still a problem.

But recently there's been not-as-bad news: cocaine use appears to be declining. The number of people who reported using cocaine in the past month declined from 2.4 million in 2006 to 1.4 million in 2011 (the most recent year available), according to the federal National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The number of people who reported using cocaine for the first time was 1 million in 2002 -- in 2011, it was 670,000. And the difference in first-time users was even more stark for crack: 337,000 vs. 76,000.

Cocaine still ranked #1 among illicit drugs for emergency department visits for misuse or abuse of drugs in 2011, according to data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network compiled by the feds. (By the way: the number of such visits for pharmaceuticals -- that is, prescription drugs -- topped those of all illicit drugs in 2011, with 458.3 visits per 100k population vs. 402 for illicit drugs. The rate of visits for pharmaceuticals was up 114 percent between 2004 and 2011.)

One guess why cocaine use is down (and prescription drug abuse is up): the economy. [Time]

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State Police identify man they'd like to question following trooper stabbing at Empire State Plaza

nysp eric green searchState Police have released a name and photos of a person they'd like to question following the stabbing of a state trooper Sunday afternoon at the Empire State Plaza. From the press release:

State Police and Albany Police officials are currently searching for Eric L. Green, 18, date of birth February 7, 1995, for questioning in conjunction with the assault and stabbing which occurred on March 3, 2013 on the concourse of the Empire State Plaza on Trooper Rodney L. Smith.
Green's current address is unknown but he does have ties to the Grand Street area in the City of Albany. Officials are asking anyone who might have seen him or know of his whereabouts to contact 518-474-5330 with any information.

Full press release post jump.

State Police say Smith was stabbed in the neck with steak knife around 3:15 pm. NYSP says the attacker had struck up a conversation with Smith, and while Smith was looking at the man's ID, the man stabbed him. Smith was taken to Albany Med and is expected to recover.

The incident prompted an intensive search in the area surrounding the ESP. And of this afternoon, NYSP say they haven't found the man. [TU]

photo via New York State Police

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APD says hazing incident involved water, wooden paddles, rubber hoses

Not the typical broken-up house party: Albany police say they responded to a call for "a loud disturbance" early Friday morning in Pine Hills (map). The APD press release continues:

While investigating the incident, officers located a total of 14 individuals in the basement being subjected to what appeared to be an initiation for membership in an unsanctioned group or fraternity.
Officers observed several individuals lying face down on the basement floor with their faces submerged in water. They were being struck with wooden paddles and rubber hoses while being told to "beg for mercy" and having cold water from a garden hose poured on their heads.

APD says nine people in total were arrested on a variety of charges -- seven of them were charged with hazing in the second degree. APD spokesman Steven Smith says eight of the nine charged are UAlbany students.

Full press release post jump.

Here's an Albany Student Press article from 2009 about underground frats and hazing. [via @JonCampbellGAN]

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Serving on a grand jury

albany county judicial center

One day a week here for eight weeks. It's better than being on trial.

By AOA Greg

Earlier this year I served on an Albany County grand jury. I had been dreading the experience -- one day a week for eight weeks was going to be a huge pain because of the work disruption. After it was over, though, I was glad to have served. In fact, I think everyone should serve on a jury at least once. It will make you see the world a bit differently.

You might have seen Kristi's post about serving on a grand jury. I can't say my experience was as dramatic -- no annoying fellow jurors, no exploding assistant district attorneys -- but it did leave an impression.

Here are a handful of things have stuck with me from the experience...

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Keeping up with crime data

albany police nixle screengrab

A screengrab of alerts from Albany police.

Last week during the discussion over the safety of downtown Albany's Pearl Street area we heard from the Albany Police Department that it's been working on new ways of keeping the public updated with advisories and crime info.

The APD is using an online system called Nixle, which offers law enforcement agencies the capability to issue notifications sorted by geographic zone to signed-up users. The department has been trying it out in the Pine Hills and Washington Park areas, and it says it's now ready to introduce it to other neighborhoods in the city.

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Closing the "reassurance gap" in downtown Albany

north pearl street 2012-08-08

Yesterday Jerry Jennings and a group of downtown Albany business people stood in Albany City Hall to reassure everyone that the Pearl Street area is on the edge of a major change that will turn the city's downtown into a 24/7 community.

You probably know the reason for this affirmation session: the comment from Ralph Spillenger -- the owner of the Bayou Cafe and the soon-to-be-closed Jillian's -- that his business had failed, in part, because people are afraid to go downtown because of crime.

So, who's right? This situation is complicated because so much of it depends on perception.

But there are ways to make it clearer.

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When the world points toward being fearful, how do you teach your kids to be brave?

standing on diving board

Sometimes it's a matter of knowing when to leap.

By Leah Wolff-Pellingra

So, I'm watching the Olympics with my daughters. And we're talking about how strong the women on the screen are, how brave the 15-year-old girl is as she twists and turns at 35 miles per hour off the high diving platform and into the water.

"Mom, I want to do that. But she should be wearing a life-jacket. How can she swim without a life-jacket?"

"Well, she practiced and practiced. And she learned how to hold air in her lungs and use her hands and feet, just like you do when you're wearing your life-jacket."

"But that's far to jump. She shouldn't go by herself."

I want to throw caution to the wind and tell my 5-year-old little girl that someday she'll be able to go places by herself, too. That she'll be jumping without a life jacket, and that I will hold my breath until she comes back up from under the water. But, truth be told, I am grateful for being the mother of a cautious child some days. Apparently, it's a scary world out there.

There was recently a report of an attempted abduction just across the bridge in Scotia. A 10-year-old girl told her mother and police about an older man in a rusted, light-green, 4-door sedan who had tried to lure her into the car with candy.

But she made it up. The girl later admitted to Scotia police that she wanted to get attention from her parents. There is a new baby at her home.

There was about a week between that first report and the news that it was false. And despite the statistics that very few kids -- only about a hundred, out of tens of thousands of reports -- are taken in this sort of stereotypical situation, I had a day or two when my girls only played in the back yard.

These sorts of stories generate a lot of fear -- they're our worst nightmare. And we'd like to think that the world wasn't always like this, that there were times that qualify as 'back in the day' when things like creeps in light green sedans didn't threaten the way we look at the world. But this just doesn't hold up. There have always been creeps in rusted, light green 4 door sedans.

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What's missing at the downtown office

Bars on Windows.jpg

Insecure.

By AOA Mary

The important thing is that nobody got hurt.

That's the important thing. Right?

No injuries, no fatalities and nothing was taken that can't be replaced.

Well, almost nothing.

One early morning about a week ago, while I allowed myself an extra hour to sleep off some jet lag, and my husband got ready for work, a neighbor knocked on our door. He'd noticed a teenage girl wearing ripped pants and a backpack slip out of our back alley.

Now there's only one way into the alley, and he didn't see her enter. He asked her some questions but he wasn't comfortable with the answers, so he knocked on a few doors to see if everything was alright.

It wasn't.

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What to do about the guns

By Kim M.

soapbox badgeMemorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer. It's when many of us first open our pools, go camping, or host a backyard BBQ. But with the warmer weather comes an increase in violence and crime, and many of us are concerned with the number of shootings we have already seen this spring.

This past Tuesday night in Troy a 15-year-old girl was shot in the leg while waiting for a bus. It was 7:40pm. 7:40pm! On River Street!

I am angry.

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Another Lark Street shop owner busted for drugs -- at the same address

Lark News 1.jpg

Another drug bust at Lark News

Albany police say the owner and an employee of Lark News and Grocery Saturday evening for drug possession. The APD says officer Michael Geraci -- the beat officer for the Lark Street area -- stopped into the store and saw the owner -- Zahid Gilani -- "sitting with several bags of marijuana and a scale at the stores counter." A store employee was also allegedly found with crystal meth, according to the APD.

This is the second drugs-related arrest/incident at 252 Lark Street (Lark and Hudson, streetview) in the last month. A man police say is the owner of Jay's Place, upstairs, was arrested (again by officer Geraci) for alleged cocaine and heroin possession at the end of March (note this comment by Mk).

APD spokesman Steven Smith says Gilani owns the whole building, but it's currently unknown if the two situations are connected.

Full press release after the jump.

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Arrest in Albany Med mercury case

albany med mercury case martin kimber apd mug shotAlbany police say they've arrested the suspect in the Albany Med cafeteria mercury case -- and he's from Ulster County. They say Martin Kimber (right) is a 59-year-old retired (but still licensed) pharmacist from Ruby, New York.

The APD says it got a tip from someone who recognized Kimber's face from the security cam screengrabs shown on the news (the hospital posted a $25,000 reward for info directly leading to an arrest this week). It says detectives searched Kimber's residence in Ulster County and found "evidence linking him to the incident."

Still not clear: why someone would spread mercury around a hospital cafeteria. Or drive 50 miles to do it.

Full release after the jump.

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AG: large drug network centered in Albany busted

The state Attorney General's office announced today that a team of law enforcement agencies busted 52 people allegedly involved in a drug operation that's centered in Albany's South End neighborhood and associated with the notorious Albany gang Original Gangsta Killas (OGK).

"This investigation has shut down a major network of gang members responsible for the sale of illegal drugs and possession of dangerous weapons in our neighborhoods," said AG Eric Schneiderman in a statement. The AG's office says the operation was trafficking "massive quantities" of cocaine, heroin, and prescription painkillers.

The AG's office says the investigation helped, at least temporarily, short circuit the cycle of violent retaliation between the city's gangs:

Richard Gibbs (aka "50 Cent"), was one of the main subjects of this investigation. Back in February, he was murdered in the South End of Albany by a rival gang. Following that incident, [Organized Crime Task Force] investigators were informed about additional retaliation over authorized wiretaps. This allowed investigators to intercept the gun that was intended to be used in the retaliation attempt. The increasing violence on the streets made it necessary for OCTF to move quickly on this case before there was any more bloodshed. [That link is to a TU story about the shooting. Contrary to the AG's press release, Gibbs was killed this past November. The APD press release about the November shooting is after the jump.]

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$25k reward in Albany Med mercury case

apd albany med mercury case person of interest

Originally tagged as a "person of interest," the APD said today this man is now a suspect.

Albany Med announced today that it's put up a $25,000 reward for info leading directly to arrest and conviction of the person responsible for spreading mercury around the medical center's cafeteria on March 2. Albany police have released surveillance video screengrabs of the man they say is a suspect (above, and after the jump).

The images are from 4:19 and 4:23 pm on March 2.

The APD is asking people with info to call its criminal investigations unit: 462-8039.

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A hot commodity

copper pipesCrime fact of the day: There have been 41 copper burglaries reported to the Albany Police Department in the last 16 months. The APD says 3/4 of the burglaries have been in vacant buildings.

The latest incident involved a vacant, bank-owned house in the Whitehall neighborhood. The APD says a man was arrested for allegedly posing as a contractor in order to strip the house of its copper piping. (Full press release after the jump.)

Copper thefts have been an ongoing problem as prices for the metal have spiked during the last decade. The problem has been so pervasive across the nation -- with thieves ripping off all sorts of piping and wire -- that the FBI reported a few years back that copper theft was a threat to the nation's critical infrastructure. The problem has prompted many states to recently pass laws that require stricter rules for how scrap copper can be sold or bought. [NYT] [FBI] [NCSL]

If you keep an eye out here in the Capital Region, you'll notice there's a copper theft story every week or so. Many of the stories have stuck out for either the audacity (and stupidity) of the people involved, or the consequences of the theft.

A few quick examples:

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A WTF? day in crime reports

Maybe because of the weather, maybe because of coincidence, this it turning out to be a WTF? day in local crime reports. From the awful, to the bizarre, to the Canadian...

Assault on the front steps
Albany police say a 61-year-old has been hospitalized for skull fractures after he we was allegedly beaten by men selling drugs on his brother's front steps Saturday in the South End. He had reportedly told the men to leave, there was an argument, and the group repeatedly punched and kicked them man, leaving him in the middle of the street. One man has been arrested and charged with gang assault.

Dirty old man
The APD says two sisters, ages 10 and 7, reported that a man -- approximately 70 years of age, wearing a black beret -- exposed himself to them as they walked home from Arbor Hill Elementary yesterday.

Church crasher
The APD says a 60-year-old homeless man was arrested for allegedly ripping apart the chapel at St. Peter's Hospital yesterday. It alleges the man "threw numerous chairs around the room. He then overturned two church pews that were screwed into the floor causing the wood to split. He proceeded to flip over a wooden alter which caused it to partially break. Artz also allegedly punched several holes in the walls and ripped wiring from inside."

Canadian!
Niskayuna police say an investigation involving the FBI has concluded that threatening YouTube videos directed at Niskayuna High School students starting last fall didn't originate locally. In fact, they didn't originate in this country. The NPD says the suspect is a minor -- in Ontario -- with no prior connection to the students. She allegedly noticed one of the Niskayuna students in a chat room and then tried to egg on some sort of online fight that was going on among the students.

The lesson here, of course: beware of Canadians.

More details on all these incidents are in press releases, pasted after the jump.

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Bleach as a weapon

bottle of clorox bleachAlbany police said today they've arrested a 15-year-old girl for allegedly being the bleach thrower in the incident outside the Arbor Hill library two weeks ago. From the press release (emphasis added):

The suspect was with another girl inside the library on February 3 waiting for her tutor in the teen area. The victim, 15, came into the library with another friend and sat down in close proximity to the suspect. Both girls started to make fun of the victim's clothes and his appearance. According to witnesses the suspect then started taking pictures and video of the victim with her cell phone. The victim, annoyed by photos being taken, knocked the camera out of the girls hand. The suspect started to yell at the victim and caused a commotion. She stated to him "you're going to get the bleach".

The teen has been charged with felony assault.

In the same press release, the APD says officers broke up a fight among three girls outside the Adult Learning Center on Western Ave near the downtown UAlbany campus on Monday. After the fight was broken up, the APD says a school official turned over a soda bottle filled with bleach that one of the fighting students had been carrying.

As Kate Welshofer tweeted this afternoon: "The only person who should be using bleach as a weapon is #MrClean."

The full press release after the jump.

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An alleged inside job -- by an 11-year-old

Albany police say they've arrested an 11-year-old boy for allegedly breaking into cars near Washington Park -- and running an inside job robbery on a Lark Street store. From the APD press release:

Officer Michael Geraci was following up on a burglary report last Thursday with the owner of Frame Workshop at 215 Lark Street. The owner stated that someone had entered the business through a unlocked window between Wednesday night and Thursday morning and stole $240 from the cash register. Several picture frames, which were in front of the window, were also damaged when the suspect climbed in.
The owner told Officer Geraci that a young boy, who he had befriended, had been hanging around the business over the last couple of days and was inside on several occasions. He believed that the boy had intentionally unlocked the window while he was inside the shop so he could get inside when the business was closed. The owner gave Officer Geraci the boy's name and showed him a picture of the boy on Facebook.

The full press release is pasted after the jump.

This is at least the second recent arrest that's resulted from Geraci noticing something on his Center Square beat (the other: the man who allegedly posed as a detective). Both cases point to the potential payoff of having beat cops and community policing (and admittedly, it's a tiny sample). Would those arrests have been made without it? Sure, maybe. But having an officer out in the neighborhood, talking to people, making connections couldn't have hurt.

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APD: man was responding to police calls, identifying himself as a detective

Weird: Albany police say a 19-year-old man has admitted to responding to "several dozen" police calls over the past year, representing himself as a detective.

Albany police mug shot Ryan MannFrom the APD press release:

On Tuesday evening just after 5:00 p.m. officers investigating a person with a gun call were involved in a brief foot pursuit that led to a arrest for criminal trespass at 273 Third Street. Officer [Michael] Geraci was one of the officers who responded to the call and he located a handgun on Thornton Street. Several minutes after the call went out [Ryan] Mann showed up to the scene on Thornton Street. ...
Mann was wearing eye glasses, had on a blue fleece jacket, dress shirt and tie, khaki pants and shoes. He had a bullet proof vest on and was carrying a portable radio, similar to one that police officers carry.
Officer Geraci initially questioned him at the scene and Mann was brought to the detective division to be interviewed. Mann admitted to responding to several dozen calls over the past year, mostly in the Center Square area. He monitored police calls through a phone application that scans police transmissions, carried a police badge from Oakland, California and would identify himself as Detective Ruff when he encountered people in the public.

The APD says Geraci nabbed Mann after recognizing him from responding to other police calls in the Lark Street area.

There is no indication at this time that Mann specifically targeted anyone or anything for gain or that he was a threat to anyone. He was scheduled for a mental health evaluation.

Mann has been charged with criminal possession of stolen property, but for the moment, not impersonation. APD says it's still investigating.

More details in the full press released pasted after the jump.

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Colonie still among lowest-crime large municipalities in nation -- but not the lowest

colonie town hallColonie is ranked #7 on this year's list of lowest crime cities in the US as compiled by CQ Press.* The town was #1 in the rankings for 2010 and 2009.

This year's rankings are based on stats from 2010. Colonie's police chief says the number of major crimes dropped slightly this year. [TU]

The city of Albany was ranked 295th on this year's list -- that's up (or, in reference to crime, down) from #317 in the 2010 rankings. And the crime score compiled by CQ for the city dropped from 86.77 to 68.06.

CQ Press also ranks metropolitan areas. The Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro is #77 on this year's rankings -- it was #73 on last year's list. It's still well below the national average.

The Glens Falls metro ranked #8 this year, after topping the rankings last year.

If you're curious about the methodology behind these rankings -- and the strong criticism of them -- here's a little more...

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APD: mother/daughter said they fought off burglar -- but they were attackers

Not your typical crime story. From an APD press release:

Albany detectives have arrested a mother and daughter for robbing and beating a Watervliet man with a baseball bat and table lamp and then filing a report with police claiming he had burglarized their apartment.

The whole alleged situation has a TV crime procedural arc about it. Detectives rolling up to the crime scene, talking with witnesses, the twist, and now the Law & Order clang CLANG. (The courtroom part is after the next commercial break.)

The whole thing is after the jump.

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Albany getting almost $4 million to hire more police officers

albany police carKirsten Gillibrand announced today that the feds are dropping almost $4 million on the city of Albany to hire more police officers. And Troy is getting $350k to do the same. [KG]

The APD says it will be able to cover the salaries and benefits of 16 new officers for three years with the money. (Related question: what happens after that?) [@JCEvangelist_TU]

There's research that indicates one of the best ways to reduce a city's crime rate is to hire more police officers (police officers are "a bargain" according to one economist), though there's also research that indicates otherwise. During New York's City's famed decline in crime during the 90s, its police department added large numbers of officers to its ranks -- though the crime rate has continued to decline this decade even as the officer count has also receded. (The continued fall in crime rates all around the nation during the past decade has experts kind of baffled.) [Marginal Revolution] [Reason] [NYT] [NYT]

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Operation Safe Corridor

lark street

We're all hoping for a safer Center Square

Officials in Albany announce details Thursday of the extension of the "Safe Corridor" program to new Lark Street and Central Avenue.

Part of the project will involve signs around the city that will direct pedestrians along what the program deems the safest route. The goal is to have as many people as possible along certain routes to prevent crimes from happening. There will also be "Safe Haven" business stickers given to participating business, as well as special LGBT-friendly rainbow stickers given to some businesses in the Lark Street and Central Avenue areas.

This is a program that's been used in many other cities and has been in place in Albany's Pine Hills neighborhood since 2007. [TU]

The new one will be a partnership between the city government, the APD and the Lark Street and Central Avenue Business Improvement Districts.

There are a bunch of issues that go along with this sort of program. Are businesses ready for the responsibility that goes along with being a "safe haven?" And does designating certain streets as "safe" mean that other possible routes might become less safe because fewer people travel down them.

The program could be helpful. And it's encouraging to see attention to the issue. But real change will probably only come from stepped-up policing and increased engagement with the public.

Updated at 6:15 pm

Why you should tip your pizza delivery guy more


A map of attacks on food delivery people, 2008-2011.

This past weekend in Albany's Center Square neighborhood a pizza deliveryman for Soho Pizza was the target of what must have been a terrifying attack. From the Albany Police Department press release about the incident:

At approximately 1:10 a.m. James Kehoe, 25, was attempting to make a food delivery for Soho Pizza to 172 Jay Street. He was approached on the street by the first suspect who told him "hold on my brother will be right out with the money". A second suspect came from across the street and wrapped his arm around the victim's throat and threw him to the ground. A third suspect then walked up behind Kehoe and placed what appeared to be a handgun to his neck and told him not to scream or he would get shot. The first suspect then reached into Kehoe's pockets and stole his money and cell phone.

The APD says the suspects fled the scene after getting the money and phone. A search of the area, including a sweep by a K-9 team, came up empty.

You might not think that being a food delivery person is a dangerous job, but attacks on them are not uncommon in Albany and other Capital Region cities. In fact, there have been six incidents just this year.

Concerned and curious about about the frequency and locations of these attacks, we gathered reports of the crimes from the past four years, organized them by date, and mapped them.

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Scanning reaction to the kegs and eggs riot

kegheads badgeIt's pretty much impossible to not have some sort of reaction to the kegs and eggs riot that went down in Albany over the weekend (especially after seeing the video).

Here's a scan of what people are saying today...

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Video of the Albany kegs and eggs riot

The clip above is video from the scene of the kegs and eggs party/free-for-all/riot in Albany's, ahem, education district Saturday morning. It was posted by YouTube user yz125motoracer. [TU]

Albany police say they arrested six people (three for charges including "riot"). Five, one of them a bag piper, face felonies. Crowd size estimates ranged from a few hundred to a thousand plus. People allegedly threw bottles at cops. [CBS6] [TU] [YNN] [Fox23]

There are a few more clips after the jump. Keep Albany Boring has tagged a comprehensive round-up of clips with an apt phrase: "brocial media."

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Hostage situation in Albany


View Larger Map

Update: The situation has ended -- the man is in custody. Police say the man is from the Bronx. The NYPD flew his girlfriend up from NYC in a helicopter this afternoon to talk to him. [TU] [Fox23] [CBS6]
_______

Albany police say they're dealing with a hostage situation in downtown Albany. A man with a gun has reportedly held people hostage during the night -- though there are varying reports about how many people have been held. The TU reports a woman was recently released from the building and the alleged hostage taker is reportedly asking to go on TV. [YNN] [CBS6] [Fox23] [TU]

YNN says Erin Vannella, one of its reporters, contacted the man via phone at the request of police. The station has been playing a recording of parts of the phone call on the air. In the clip, the man says he loves his wife and is suicidal. Vannella later said on air that the conversation went on for a long time and it appeared the situation was going to require patience.

A few media outlets are tagging Twitter updates with #albanyhostage.

Update: There are few photos from the scene after the jump...

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Callicut convicted in Bailey murder

A jury has found De Von Callicut guilty in the 2008 murder of UAlbany student Richard Bailey. Callicut was convicted on four counts: first-degree murder, attempted robbery, weapons possession and robbery. [TU] [WNYT]

Sentencing is scheduled for February. Callicut faces life in prison without parole because of the first-degree murder conviction. [CBS6] [AP/Troy Record]

A handful of media reports have mentioned that many people in the court room -- Callicut's family, Bailey's family, jurors -- were crying after the verdict. [YNN]

Every thing about this story is unbelievably sad. Bailey was 22-years-old, a senior in college who planned to become a police officer after graduating. Callicut, and the two men who admitted to being lookouts to the crime, were just teens. One of the lookouts -- King Modest -- was apparently a kid with a lot of potential. [Metroland]

Bailey was shot in the head during a robbery attempt the evening of October 20, 2008 in Albany's Pine Hills neighborhood. Callicut apparently was looking to steal money in an attempt to make up for gambling losses. [Daily Gazette]

APD: 12-year-old steals two cars in a week

Albany police said they had arrested a 12-year-old early Sunday morning for allegedly driving a stolen car and then leading officers on a short chase through Pine Hills.

Unusual enough... but there's more. The APD says this same kid was also arrested for driving a stolen minivan last Tuesday. The department had gotten a call around 1 am on November 30 about a vehicle "driving all over the road" near Quail and Central. The APD says officiers eventually nabbed the kid about eight blocks away in West Hill.

The APD says the 12-year-old is a resident of the LaSalle School on Western Ave (the school across from St. Rose). They say the kid told them he had taken to key to minivan from the school nurse's office.

The full release is after the jump.

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Colonie again tops list of lowest-crime municipalities

colonie town hall

Colonie Town Hall

For the second year in a row, Colonie is ranked at the top of CQ Press' rankings for lowest-crime cities.* Also this year, the Glens Falls metro area ranked first among metro areas for lowest crime ranking.

Albany ranked #300 #317 on the list of lowest-crime cities (it was #300 last year). And the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro ranked #73 on the list of metros.

St. Louis was ranked #1 for highest-crime. The Detroit metro area ranked #1 among metros.

CQ Press says the rankings are based on data from the federal Uniform Crime Reporting program. Here's an explanation of the methodology.

These rankings have critics. The FBI says it "discourages" such rankings and says they "lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting cities and counties, along with their residents." And the US Conference of Mayors called this year's rankings "a premeditated statistical mugging of America's cities."

* Yes, Colonie is not a city -- it's a town. CQ Press tagged it as such, not us.

(Thanks, Jess)

photo: UpstateNYer / Wikipedia

This Schenectady Life

steven raucci mug shotThis week's episode of This American Life will focus on the Steven Raucci case in Schenectady. From the blurb for the ep, appropriately titled "Petty Tyrants":

In Schenectady, NY, a school maintenance man named Steve Raucci works his way up the ranks for 30 years, until finally he's in charge of the maintenance department. That's when he starts messing with his employees. Teasing them at meetings. Punishing them with crummy work assignments. Or worse things, like secretly slashing their tires in the middle of the night.

TAL airs on WAMC Friday night at 8 pm and Saturday at 4 pm. You can also listen -- and download -- online.

Earlier this year, TAL focused on the broken New York State budget.

(Thanks, everyone!)

photo via This American Life

Arrest in Central Warehouse fire case

Thumbnail image for central warehouse fire sebastien1Albany police say they've arrested a Rensselaer contractor for illegally removing piping from Central Warehouse last Friday -- and they allege sparks from the saw used to cut the pipe ignited the building's cork insulation. [TU] [CBS6]

The APD says the contractor had been an agreement with owner to remove the pipe -- but it ended this past June, which is why the contractor was arrested on charges for burglary, grand larceny and criminal mischief. They allege he has taken more than 200,000 pounds of pipe valued at more than $26,000 in the time since the agreement ended. [CBS6] [APD]

Update: The full press release from the APD is after the jump.

Earlier: Fire at Central Warehouse

photo: Sebastien B

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Self defense classes?

self defense classAfter seeing the recent string of crime stories, MattW emailed this week:

Can anyone recommend self-defense classes?

Any suggestions? Please share.

photo: Adam Jackson (Flickr user adamjackson1984)

Bike thefts in Delaware/Whitehall neighborhoods

jason's stolen bikeJason emails:

There appears to have been a string of bicycle thefts over the weekend in the Whitehall/Delaware neighborhood in Albany. My bicycle was stolen out of my open garage while I was home on Sunday in broad daylight (between 6:30-7:30PM). The officer who came and took the incident report said he had just come from another home where two bicycles were stolen out of an open garage. I went on Craigslist this morning to look to see if my bike was on there and found that five bikes were stolen on Delaware Ave on Sunday around 12:30PM off of a porch (a few blocks away - I live on Whitehall).

It's a serious drag to think that you might have to lock up your bike in your own garage.

The Albany police department has a bike registration program aimed at making it easier to recover stolen bikes. If you call 438-4000, you'll be directed to a number for more info (it varies by your location). There's also a "National Bike Registry" that says it includes the Troy, Colonie and Rensselaer police departments, as well as UAlbany and RPI security. We don't know much about this service -- and it costs $10 -- so caveat bike rider.

Another option: ride a tall, pink bike.

(That's Jason's bike in the photo -- click for a better view.)

Raucci sentenced to 23 years to life

A few quick bits from the flurry of coverage:

Steven Raucci's total sentence is 23 years to life. [YNN]

That's 20 years for the arson conviction + one to three years for coercion. [CBS6]

A 15-year sentence for criminal possession of weapon will be served concurrently with the other sentences. [WTEN]

The sentence was preceded by emotional victim impact statements. Said one of the victims: "Let him live the nightmare that the victims have endured." [Daily Gazette] [TU]

Of loudspeakers and tweets

twitter birdToday's hunt for an armed robber in Troy and subsequent lockdown at RPI seemed to stir up a lot people. There was the obvious (and understandable) "Yikes!" reaction to the thought of an armed suspect running through the neighborhood near campus -- but there also seemed to be a bit of confusion and frustration with the way information about the situation was communicated.

Thankfully, no one got hurt. And maybe there are some good things that can come out of all this for the next situation.

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Steven Raucci guilty on 18 counts

Update: YNN has posted video of the verdict being read in the court room.

Update: The TU's Lauren Stanforth has a detailed breakdown of the counts.

The verdict just came back. WTEN reports he was found NOT guilty on the terrorism charge. CBS6 has a rundown of all the counts.

When a gnome is down on his luck...

clinton ave sefcu robberAfter seeing the surveillance cam image from Tuesday's robbery at the SEFCU on Clinton Ave in Albany, we could only think one thing:

Oh, no! Blue Pants has gone rogue!


Earlier on AOA: Bandit Tracker

image via BanditTracker

Bandit Tracker

bandit tracker photo

This Bandit Tracker photo is from a Buffalo robbery in January.

For whatever reason, we've become slightly obsessed with bank robberies over the last year. (Maybe because it seems like there's one every other week.)

Thankfully, the FBI has put together a site to help feed our interest: Bandit Tracker Northeast. The site tracks open bank robbery cases across the area covered by the FBI's Albany division -- including upstate New York and parts of Vermont and New Jersey. There are robbery profiles, security camera grabs, a map and a feed. You can even subscribe via email (You have a robbery!).

As it happens, the FBI also this week released nationwide stats for 2009 bank robberies. A few interesting bits after the jump.

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Safe as houses. In Colonie.


Colonie and Albany are literally right next door, but their crime rankings almost couldn't be farther apart.

Colonie tops the list of lowest-crime cities in this year's rankings compiled by CQ Press. Colonie had only 54 incidences of violent crime in 2008, the lowest total of the 393 cities in the rankings. It ranked #10 last year.

As far as we can tell, Albany is the only other Capital Region city on the list -- it ranked #300 (#263 last year).

Here's more about the methodology used to compile the list. By CQ's own admission, the ranking has its critics. And here's what the FBI says about these sorts of rankings:

Each year when Crime in the United States is published, some entities use reported figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or region. Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction.

The FBI does compile annual crime statistics -- here's the 2008 data for crimes in New York State, sorted by city.

[via @albcolchamber]

Three arrested for Bailey murder

A bunch of local media outlets are reporting that three teens have been arrested for the murder of UAlbany student Richard Bailey last year in Pine Hills. The suspects are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon.

According to the TU, one of the suspects is Jamell "King" Modest. He was the subject of a gripping, sad and ominous Metroland cover story by David King back in 2007:

[Corey] Ellis met Modest about a year ago. He got a call from Modest's aunt. "She said, 'I hear you help young men.' I told her that I do," recalls Ellis. Ellis then met Modest and talked to him like he was a real person, not some street kid, a criminal, or a pariah unworthy of his attention. After that, Ellis brought Modest to a peer-mentoring program at the Arbor Hill Community Center. That is when Ellis says he realized Modest's ability to influence his peers.

"You gotta just pull them out one by one," says Ellis.

But Ellis realizes despite the fact that he grabs Modest off the street whenever he can, even though he is willing to go out of his way to find him and give him something to do other than hang on the street, trouble is still waiting.

"It is that one day that I am not there. That single moment. I see it when he is away hanging with his friends for a while. He changes. Then, when he is back with me, he is himself again."

...

"People have told me King is going to break my heart," says Ellis. "I told 'em to wait and see. This young man is special."

Definitely read the whole thing.

Police say kidnapping and car chase shooting were linked, crackdown planned for Alive at Five, new Spitzer details, badass of the week

Police say last week's multi-city kidnapping and the car-to-car shooting in Troy were all part of the same story -- a twisted, violent story like something out of 24 or a mob movie. Police say the woman abducted in Albany last week was tortured -- including the use of bleach and salt in her wounds -- in Troy as part of an attempt to extract information from her about a safe her brother allegedly stole. The brother then allegedly went to Troy to swap the safe for his sister, but not trusting the captors, police say he opened fire on them as they drove -- with the man's sister in the trunk of one of the cars -- through the streets of Troy. [TU] [Troy Record] [WNYT]

The City of Albany says it'll be cracking down on drunk people at this summer's Alive at Five concerts. Among the methods: the use of a sensor to test drinks -- and people -- for alcohol. [Troy Record] [TU]

Scores on state math tests given to grade school students were up statewide this year -- including local school districts. The results prompted the head of the state Board of Regents to ask if the test was too easy. [NYSED] [Daily Gazette] [TU]

State Senator Tom Duane, the sponsor of the Senate same-sex marriage bill, says the measure has enough votes to pass the state Senate. Senate majority leader Malcolm Smith says he doesn't think that's true -- and says he won't bring the bill to a vote if he thinks it will fail. [NYDN] [Buffalo News] [TU]

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Blame the Listerine?

listerine bottleThere was a weird -- and sad -- story in the TU today about a guy in Rensselaer County who failed a court-ordered sobriety test -- and his attorney blamed... Listerine.

The excuse apparently didn't go over well with the judge. And it seems laughable. But it got us wondering: is apparent-intoxification via mouthwash possible?

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Schenectady mugshots on Twitter

schenectady mugshotsThe Schenectady Police Department has started posting its arrests reports (including mugshots) online -- and it's publicizing them via a Twitter feed. It looks like the department just started this week.

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The economy sucks, shooting in Pine Hills, garbage threatens to topple Schenectady hill, RPI officials in Africa

This just in: the economy really sucks at this moment. [TU] [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian] [Saratogian] [SRI]

State Senate Democrats are reportedly willing to support raising taxes on households making more than $250,000 as a way to cover the budget gap (they also apparently support an increase in the sales tax). There's already support for the measure in the Assembly. David Paterson has said such move should be a last resort. [NYT]

An Albany man has been charged with the murder of the man found dead in an abandoned Albany building in February (the city's first homicide of the year). Police say the suspect shot the man in a parked car on Lark Street and then dumped the body. Police say the suspect denies being involved, instead saying that he was smoking pot in Troy with a random woman he met that day. [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record] [TU]

More violence in Albany's Pine Hills neighborhood: police say a woman was shot in the arm outside the Playdium bowling alley early Saturday morning (map). Police say the woman told them her sons know the shooters. There was also a reported mugging at the corner of South Main and Myrtle this weekend (map).[Troy Record] [CapNews9] [TU]

The number of bridges in New York State that have been "red-flagged" has more than quadrupled between 2002 and 2007, according to a report from the state Department of Transportation. [TU]

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More charges for alleged arsonist, woman found guilty of lying about cops, pearl found in clam, Jerry Jennings will mess up his hair

The Schenectady County DA, says Stephen Raucci, the Schenectady School District employee who's been accused of arson and intimidation, was indicted yesterday by a grand jury on sealed charges. And the Saratoga DA says State Police have charged Raucci with unsuccessfully trying to bomb a car in Clifton Park. That means Raucci has now been charged with crimes in three different counties -- Schenectady, Rensselaer and Saratoga. [CapNews9] [TU]

A Lansinburgh woman is dead after police found her fatally wounded in the basement of her house yesterday morning. Authorities says the woman's boyfriend had to be tasered after he threatened police and firefighters who arrived at the scene with a knife. Police found two kids in the house, unharmed. A spokesman for the TPD says it was a "gruesome crime scene." [Troy Record] [TU]

The Ravena woman who accused Albany cops of doing a cavity search on her during a traffic stop in late 2007 was convicted yesterday on charges that she lied about the incident. The woman had rejected an earlier plea deal that would have required her to admit that she had lied. [TU] [Troy Record]

A crowd of about 400 RPI students rallied yesterday outside a Board of Trustees dinner on campus. The students were protesting "the manner in which recent administrative actions and policy decisions have been executed." According to that TU story, its reporter -- Marc Parry -- was asked by the administration to leave the demonstration. Apparently it was OK for the Troy Record to be there -- it even shot video of the rally. And here's a photo of the scene (more photos of the rally and the board here). [TU] [Student Senate] [Troy Record] [Troy Record] [unknown]

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Is Joe Bruno going to prison?

joe brunoToday has become Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Halloween, Purim, St. Patrick's Day, Fourth of July and Boxing Day all rolled into one for the political junkies and media in New York State.

Not only has Kirsten Gillibrand been appointed to the Senate, but Joe Bruno has been indicted.

The eight count indictment alleges that Bruno used his influence as state Senate majority leader to score $3.2 million in consulting fees from private clients. (The TU has posted a copy of the indictment.)

Uncle Joe was arraigned this afternoon -- he pleaded not guilty -- and was defiant, saying he's been "a target of a get Joe Bruno campaign."

If convicted, Bruno could get 20 years in prison.

In other news, officials from nearby federal penitentiaries said they're excited about their chances of landing a multi-billion dollar chip fab facility.

It snowed, pharmacy held up with a grenade, man stewed before bank heist, Paterson in Iraq, hope for ESP skating rink?

It snowed. The National Weather Service estimates the Capital Region got between 14-20 inches over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A snow emergency is in effect in Albany until 8 pm Tuesday -- and in Troy, you can park free in downtown city lots and garages until Monday at 8 pm. [Daily Gazette] [City of Albany] [City of Troy]

After the recent ice storm and power outages, the state Public Service Commission says it will be watching how well utilities keep trees trimmed around power lines. One potential culprit for some of the downed trees: the white pine weevil, a beetle that weakens otherwise ice-resistant pine trees. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

Police say a man robbed an uptown Albany CVS of narcotics Friday night using the threat of a grenade. [Daily Gazette]

Police say yet another pizza delivery guy was robbed in Albany in apparent setup. This is the third time that's happened in the last few weeks. In this most recent robbery, it seems the muggers only got away with pizza and chicken wings. [CBS6] [CapNews9] [TU]

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Family's SUV hit twice by trains, proposals include paying for parking in Saratoga, road salt costs up, state saving money on tree lighting

A father and his two daughters escaped with just a few cuts and bruises after two trains hit their SUV. The father said he never saw the trains coming as he drove through a train crossing near their home in New Scotland Saturday morning. The two collisions knocked the front and back ends off the SUV. The crossing has no signals -- the father says he'd been pushing the town and the train company to change that. [TU] [Troy Record] [Fox23] [Fox23]

Two of the three development proposals for the new public safety building in Saratoga Springs include plans to charge for downtown parking. And it looks like those two proposals, which also include plans for a movie theater, are the two leading candidates. The president of the Downtown Business Association called the idea of charging for downtown parking "ridiculous." [Daily Gazette] [TU] [Saratogian]

There have been a lot of shots fired in Albany over the past few days. Last Thursday evening, police say a man fired a shot inside a neighborhood grocery on Ontario St. On Saturday, police say three men conducted a bike-by shooting on South Lake near the uptown end of Washington Park (the gunmen missed). And then on Sunday, a man was shot in the butt while he was standing at the corner of Lark and Livingston. [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record] [CBS6]

Albany County officials are pushing for a 30 cent per month tax on mobile phones to help cover the cost of operating 911. Many other local counties already have such a tax. [TU]

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Reaction to Paterson's proposed budget cuts, DA candidates broke rules, beer can DNA leads to plea, paying for horse retirement

A very quick overview of David Paterson's plan to cut $2 billion from this year's state budget. [AOA]

David Paterson's proposed budget cuts went over pretty much as you would expect with the state's various interest groups: not well at all. [TU] [Biz Review] [Troy Record] [Daily Gazette]

Dean Skelos, the lame-duck state Senate majority leader, basically said the Senate wouldn't act on Paterson's proposals during next week's special session. Skelos also said he didn't "see anything creative" in Paterson's plan. [Daily Politics]

A big portion of the proposed budget cuts come from school aid. Among the proposed cuts for local districts: Albany $2.6 million (3.4 percent), Schenectady $2.7 million (3 percent), Guilderland $2 million (10 percent), Troy $1.4 million (3 percent). [TU]

Also among the proposed cuts: VLT money that goes to cities and counties. Saratoga Springs could lose $1.8 million next year under the Paterson plan. The city's finance commissioner says the city's going to plan on still getting the full amount. VLT money makes up about 10 percent of the city's budget. [Saratogian]

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Horse vandals get treatment they deserve

After Brock suggested that the video of the Saratoga formal wear horse vandals should be sped up and set to the Benny Hill theme, Sebastien made it happen. This will make you laugh:


Formal Vandals - Saratoga Springs, NY - 08, Nov from Sébastien B. on Vimeo.

Big thanks to Sebastien!

By they way: the original video popped up on the Oddball segment of Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Friday.

(Thanks, Brock and jess!)

Drinking, formal wear and fake horses don't mix

Saratoga Broadway horse vandals

Yeah, this isn't embarrassing. At all.

You might have seen this already, but we had to post it because, well, it's pretty funny. (In the of-course-we-don't-condone-vandalism-at-all kind of way.) It's surveillance video of the three people who damaged the horse sculpture outside Roohan Realty on Broadway in Saratoga this past weekend. (Full length from the TU and CBS6 -- a sort of highlight reel from 518L).

What gets us about this video is the way the people look like they're acting drunk: the exaggerated stumbling and tumbling, the way the cigarettes swing around in their hands, the almost forced-looking laughter. It's like drunk people parodying themselves.

The Saratoga police say they're still looking for the vandals.

(Thanks, M!)

Husband charged with wife's murder, downtown Saratoga Chopper sold, DMV clerk accused of stealing inspection stickers, common councilman gets the boot for unpaid tickets

Schenectady police have charged the husband of the woman murdered in her home over the weekend with the crime. The couple were immigrants from Guyana and police say the two had been fighting over whether to move back therer. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

Albany police say a new witness has reported seeing a third teen on a bike ride away from the scene of Richard Bailey's murder. (Two earlier witnesses reported seeing two teens on bikes.) The APD says it still doesn't have any solid leads in the case. [TU]

Local police departments say they're stepping up patrols tonight for Halloween. Apparently stores will also be watching for teens with shopping carts full of "trickster items." [TU]

A local developer has announced he's bought the Price Chopper in downtown Saratoga Springs -- and promises the site will continue to have a grocery store. Whether it will be a Price Chopper is unclear. An announcement on that part of the plan is scheduled for later today. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

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Paterson's top advisor quits, woman murdered in Schenectady, local home prices steady, gambling with sick days, upside to global warming?

David Paterson's top advisor, Charles O'Byrne, resigned Friday because of the furor over him not paying taxes between 2001 and 2005. O'Byrne had been described as "the second-most-powerful man in New York" while working for Paterson. [NYT] [TU]

Police say a woman was murdered in her Schenectady home over the weekend. They say it appears Jaiwanti Mangar, a Guyanese immigrant, was killed after being struck in the head. [Daily Gazette]

Despite the stepped up police presence in the neighborhood following the nearby murder of UAlbany Richard Bailey, a man was stabbed four times at the corner of Madison and Ontario in Albany early Saturday morning. The attack was related to a fight over a woman, apparently. [Fox 23] [TU]

The president of the Pine Hill Neighborhood Association says there's been "an outpouring of outrage" in the neighborhood after Bailey's murder. APD chief James Tuffey says he's "certain" his department will find the murderer. [TU] [TU]

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Gillibrand and Treadwell talk about economy, texting while driving ban proposed, Saratoga shops concerned about police overtime, a new supermarket moving in?

Much of last night's debate between Kirsten Gillibrand and Sandy Treadwell focused on the economy. Gillibrand said insufficient government regulation played a role in the financial meltdown (video clip) -- she also talked about why she didn't support the bailout bill (Treadwell says he didn't, either). Also discussed: Gillibrand's involvement with Altria dating back to her time as a corporate lawyer. Treadwell said Gillibrand's involvement with the tobacco company "is a question of judgment" (video clip). [TU] [WMHT] [WMHT]

The chairwoman of the Schenectady County legislature has proposed a ban on texting while driving in the county. Three other NY counties currently have such bans. [TU]

Albany police say they're making "slow progress" on the investigation into the shooting death of UAlbany student Richard Bailey. The two young adults seen riding away from the scene on bikes apparently are now considered to be involved, but not suspects. [TU]

The APD says a group of teens has been behind a string of car break-ins throughout the city's Pine Hills neighborhood. There have been 100 of these break-ins since the summer, including 12 this week. [TU] [FOX23]

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Top Paterson aide didn't pay taxes, Barnes believes he was targeted, chip fab company to get new name, Little League bleachers stolen

David Paterson's top advisor, chief of staff Charle O'Byrne, admitted this weekend to not paying his federal or state taxes from 2001-2005 after the TU reported there were warrants out for his back taxes. O'Byrne says he neglected to pay because he was clinically depressed. O'Byrne was $200,000 behind his taxes. The Gov has said O'Byrne did disclose the problem, though it's unclear to what to extent. The conventional wisdom seems to be that O'Byrne won't lose his job over this. [AP] [TU] [TU] [NYT] [Newsday]

Albany County DA David Soares says he'll meet with Steve Barnes to talk about the attack on the food writer and his friend Friday night. According to the TU, Barnes believes he was specifically targeted. [TU]

Rensselaer County's proposed 2009 budget does not include a tax increase. County executive Kathleen Jimino says the county's expanding tax base made an increase unnecessary. [TU]

As many as 7,500 absentee ballots in Albany County did not correctly list David Soares as a candidate on the Independence Line in the district attorney race. The board of elections says it was a simple oversight and new ballots will be ready this week. [TU]

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Former state assemblyman nabbed in Colonie in sex sting, new steroid rules for horse racing, campaign signs too big?, hiring freeze at RPI

State police say former state assemblyman Chris Ortloff tried to set up a sexual encounter with two tween girls at a motel in Colonie on Monday (there were no girls -- it was a sting). The police say Ortloff was "buck naked" when they nabbed him. Ortloff had been serving on the state parole board. [TU] [AP/DG]

Police say two men robbed a bank in Schaghticoke yesterday afternoon. The pair then led a high-speed car chase through Clifton Park, which ended in a five car wreck. [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record] [Saratogian]

The proposed 2009 budget for Cohoes includes an almost 4 percent tax increase. Water and sewer fees would increase 8 percent. [TU]

New York is tightening the rules for steroid use in race horses. "Steroids are no better for four-legged athletes than they are for two," said the chairman of the state's racing and wagering board. [Saratogian] [AP]

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Flour bandits!

flour_at_uncommon_grounds.jpgCheck this out: two guys were arrested this week at the Port of Albany for stealing flour. Yep, the stuff used to make bread. The haul seized at the time of the arrest was worth almost $2 grand, but police think the duo might be responsible for as much as 375 tons of flour that's gone missing at the port.

So why lift flour? Prices for wheat (and other agricultural commodities) have shot through the roof over the last year, which has in turn pushed flour prices up. At one point this year, wholesale flour prices were double what they were last year. The cost increases have been crunching places like pizzerias, and as we found out earlier this year, bagel shops.

Even so, it's kind of weird to think there's a black market for flour -- it's not the kind of white powder that usually shows up in police raids.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Worth its weight in copper

(Thanks, Michelle!)

Parents steamed about scheduling mix-up, Troy water's brown color "natural," Saratoga brands itself, plastic bag ban falters

Parents continue to be upset about the scheduling mix-up at Albany High, which is apparently still not completely cleared up. District superintendent Eva Joseph says there will be a "full accounting" of what caused the problem -- eventually. [WNYT] [TU]

Meanwhile, off campus, a group of about 25 Albany High students reportedly brawled at the corner of Central and Quail yesterday. One kid got a gash on his head. [TU]

The water coming out of taps in Troy and other supplied towns is still orangish-brown and officials say it's still safe to drink (though not to wash white clothes in). The head of Troy's water operation says the high level of dissolved iron and manganese from the Tomhannock Reservoir is "natural," though he's "never seen anything like this" in his 28 years there. There's speculation the heavy rain this summer might have something to do with it. [TU] [Troy Record] [CapNews9]

How NOT to resolve your disputes with the neighborhood kids: firing a shotgun at them. [Daily Gazette]

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Worth its weight in copper

a bunch of copper wire

A hot -- and sometimes hot -- commodity.

The TU reported today that a group of thieves took off with 780 pounds of copper wire from a recycling company in Colonie last night.

Why rip off copper? The price of the metal has increased more than five-fold since 2001 (demand from China has been pushing up prices). That's made copper quite the target for thieves. Depending on the type of wire, the copper stolen last night in Colonie is worth somewhere between $435 and $1,100.

But it looks like the thieves need to work on their market timing. Copper prices took their biggest dip in a year today.

photo: Flickr user dh3hao, used under a CC license

AMD still won't commit, some backstretch workers only make $5 per hour, woman hit by car while sitting in office, Schenectady has its pick of teachers, Saratoga restaurants short-handed

The chairman of AMD was in Malta yesterday to tour the site of the proposed chip fab plant (also there: Joe Bruno). Hector Ruiz said a decision on the project is likely to come by the end of the year. Later at a private gathering in Saratoga, Ruiz reportedly said the company is hopeful it will commit to the Malta project. [TU] [Saratogian]

The New York Department of Labor figures that 80 percent of backstretch workers at The Track have been shorted on pay. Some have been making as little as five bucks an hour. The president of a trainers association says he and other trainers thought they were in compliance with labor laws. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

The Albany Police Department detective say the suspect in the January Delaware Ave triple murder confessed to the crime and then hugged him. The suspect's attorney is trying to get the statement thrown out. [TU]

A concrete septic tank has blocked two lanes of traffic on southbound 787 at exit 9 this morning. [CBS6]

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Something stinks on the backstretch, workers overcome by fumes, schools big into bilingual, scholarship participation yanked over scuffling football coach, paying more at the dollar store

As if shoveling horse manure all day wasn't bad enough, the New York State Department of Labor says many backstretch workers at The Track are not only not getting paid overtime, they're not even making minimum wage. The labor department says horse trainers, who employ the backstretch workers, are engaged in "widespread violations labor law." [TU]

Two workers for Precision Industrial Maintenance in Schenectady were overcome by toxic fumes yesterday when they stepped inside a tanker truck used to collect raw sewage. Both were taken to the hospital in critical condition. Precision was cited for violating workplace safety rules on a different project earlier this year. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

A plan to turn an apartment building in Troy's Little Italy neighborhood into housing for homeless people with mental illnesses is catching flak from residents of the area. They say they're worried the building could hold back the neighborhood's revitalization. [TU]

Two crime reports from locations you don't normally see them from: a stabbing in Niskayuna and shots fired in Glenmont. [CBS6] [TU]

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Troy prostitution sting, local synchro swimmer competing today at the Olympics, on the trail of a campaign sign thief, Mr. Subb goes upscale

The Troy police busted 16 men this week during what they've described as an undercover prostitution "reverse-sting." As you might expect, there were some complaints from the busted. One guy says he didn't actually ask the undercover policewoman for, um, service (police say the same guy was arrested on the same charges last year). And another says he had a stick stuck up his nose during the arrest. [TU] [Troy Record]

After having their Schenectady store broken into eight times over three years, the owners of Funn Electronics and Keys World say they're moving back to Brooklyn, where they didn't have any trouble. They say they might stay if the city would allow them to install a metal gate that could be pulled down over the business while it's closed -- but the city doesn't allow them. [Daily Gazette]

Troy native Kim Probst is competing in synchronized swimming today at the Olympics. She's co-captain of the US team. [Troy Record]

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Stabbed where?