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Wednesday headlines

Jul 27, 2011 4:17 am
Wilhelm denies collusion in Columbia DWI case
Jamie Larson in the Register-Star reports that Greene County District Attorney Terry J. Wilhelm released a statement Tuesday, for the first time commenting on accusations that his office somehow colluded with Columbia County District Attorney Beth Cozzolino to reduce the sentence of Timothy McEachern. McEachern is Cozzolino’s brother-in-law, found to be driving drunk with two children in his vehicle and the first person in New York State charged with violating Leandra’s Law which made it a felony to be found driving under the influence with children under 16 in the vehicle. Cozzolino recused herself from the case, with Wilhelm’s office assigned as special prosecutor. The Albany Times-Union recently ran a story about how McEachern’s sentence was reduced to a misdemeanor DWI, and until now, Wilhelm did not explain his decision. The statement he released Tue., July 26:
“Neither D.A. Cozzolino nor anyone else from her office had any input whatsoever with my office or any influence upon my office in the handling of this case. D.A. Cozzolino did exactly what she was legally and ethically required to do in this matter and any criticism of her is entirely unjustified. The facts of this case are that Mr. McEachern had no prior criminal history, no prior DWI or DWAI arrests, there was no accident, no property damage, no personal injury and his blood alcohol content was a .10, which is slightly over the .08 DWI threshold. Had it not been for the Leandra’s Law charge, the standard operating procedure in such a case would have been to offer a plea of guilty to DWAI, which is a traffic infraction and not a crime. Because of the Leandra’s Law charge, my office required a plea of guilty to DWI, which is a crime, to satisfy this case. Mr. McEachern now has a criminal record for the rest of his life, his driver's license was suspended and he had to pay a fine and perform community service. Notwithstanding the reckless and baseless comments of political candidate Gene Keeler, my office treated Mr. McEachern exactly as we would have treated anyone else facing these charges under the same circumstances. As with every case with which my office is involved, politics played absolutely no role in this prosecution. For this year and a half old case which was handled properly in all respects to be publicized now clearly shows only political motivations, not the realities of the law."
Read the entire story in The Daily Mail.

Landlord evicts outspoken tenant
Jamie Larson in the Register-Star reports that Hudson landlord Phil Gellert, of Northern Empire Realty, is evicting Katherine Pierce, after she spoke out against the condition of the apartment she rents from him in an article published in the Register-Star weekend edition July 23. Pierce owes Gellert $152 in back rent, which he said Tuesday is why he is evicting her. Pierce called Gellert Monday, July 25, to tell him she could get up to date by the end of the month. “I said, ‘if I pay you, can I stay?” Pierce told Larson. “He said, ‘no, I’m sick of it. We don’t need people like you.’ I knew eventually I was going to move anyway,” she continued. Asked if she would take Gellert to court she said, “if I don’t have a place I will, but if I find a place I want to get out. I’ve had it.” Hudson Mayor Richard Scalera told Larson he has heard more complaints about Gellert than any other landlord over the course of his 14 years in office. “The true Phil Gellert is coming out,” said Scalera, saying Pierce could report Gellert to the New York State Attorney General’s Office. “I’d be more than happy to assist her. Nobody should have to live like that.... absent of Gellert coming out and giving a darn good excuse, it has to be retaliatory.” Read the full story in the Register-Star.

Post office considers closing Lanesville, Coeymans Hollow branches
Post offices in Lanesville, just outside Hunter in Greene County, and Coeymans Hollow in Albany County, are on a list of branches the Post Office is considering closing. The U.S. Postal Service announced Tuesday that it will study 3,653 local offices, branches and stations for possible closing.