Ruth Benway

Benway, RuthRuth Benway of Fulton, passed away Sunday, March 22 at Oswego Hospital following a brief illness. She was born in Fulton, the youngest child to the late, Joseph and Anna Simon. Ruth retired from Syroco after 19 years of service and had previously worked at the Nestle Company for several years. Ruth was a communicant of the former Holy Family Church. She volunteered at Lee Memorial Hospital and was a member of Aurora of CNY. In addition to her parents, Ruth was predeceased by her husband, Raymond W. Benway; two brothers and four sisters. She is survived by her daughters, Linda Benway, Cathy (Terry) Alford and Karen (Phil) MacEwen; five grandchildren, Christopher, Katie, Amber, Corinne and Julia; nine great grandchildren as well as several nieces and nephews. Calling hours and a service were held Friday, March 26 at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay St., Fulton. Burial will take place at a later date in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Fulton. Contributions in memory of Mrs. Benway may be made to Aurora of CNY, Inc., 518 James St., Suite 100, Syracuse, NY 13203.

Frederick R. McCarthy, Sr.

Frederick R. McCarthy, Sr., 80, of Fulton, beloved husband, father and grandfather, died March 24, 2015 at James Square Nursing Home in Syracuse where he had been a resident for the past seven months. Born December 28, 1934 in Fulton, he was the son of Philip Sheridan McCarthy and Anna Muncy McCarthy. He attended Catholic grade school and graduated from Fulton High School in 1952. Mac served with the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict and joined the New York State Police on August 1, 1957, initially serving as a uniformed trooper and later was promoted to investigator with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Troop D, Oneida. He retired in 1981 to go to work for Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation first as head of security at the Oswego steam plant and later as security supervisor at Nine Mile Point nuclear facility. Mac loved his dogs and horses as well as hunting, fishing and politics. He enjoyed telling stories of his years in the state police which included foot patrol at Sylvan Beach and the midway at the NY State Fair. He was chosen to guard Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev when he visited Hyde Park in 1951; he was at the Rochester riots in 1964 and the aftermath of Attica Prison riot in 1971. Mac was a member of the New York State Retired Troopers Association and Oswego County Lodge Fraternal Order of Police as well as Hannibal Post American Legion. He was predeceased by a brother, Philip McCarthy and sisters, Mary Jane McCarthy, Gertrude Cealie and Ellen Fones. Mac is survived by his wife of 38 years, Judith T. McCarthy; six children, Dennis (Donna) McCarthy of Solvay, Fred, Jr. (Jennifer) McCarthy of Town of Scott, Sam (Kathy) Gerbig of Oswego, Michael McCarthy of Clay, Sally McCarthy (Rick Schram) of Atlanta and Amanda (Nathan) Mountain of Syracuse; one sister, Patricia (James) Simpson of Fulton; grandchildren, Frederick III (Lauren) McCarthy of Charleston, SC, Daniel McCarthy of Baldwinsville, Brandon McCarthy of North Syracuse, Noah and Taylor Gerbig of Wareham, Mass., McCarthy Jane Mountain and Aidan Alexandra Mountain of Syracuse, Trey Glover of John’s Island, S.C., James Ouderkirk and JoAnne Crimmins of Oswego. Calling hours were Friday, March 27 at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay Street, Fulton. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday, March 28 at the Fulton First United Methodist Church, 1408 State Route 176, Fulton. Donations may be made to the Salvation Army, 62 South First Street, Fulton, NY, 13069.

Catherine  Mills

Catherine Mills OBCatherine  Mills, 59, of Pennellville, N.Y., passed away on Friday, March 20 at the VA Medical Center, Syracuse, N.Y. Born in Greenock, Scotland to her late parents, Catherine (Orr) Milligan and William Milligan on May 8, 1955, she was a homemaker. A Member of H. F. American Legion Post 418, Phoenix. She was predeceased by her husband George M. Mills, Sr.; her son George M. Mills, Jr.; and a brother, George Milligan. Surviving are her son and his wife, William J. and Stacey Mills of Hannibal; one grandson, Austin Mills; her brothers and sisters, Andrew (Margaret) Milligan, William Milligan, May (Jim) Dykes, Anthony Milligan, and Isobel Milligan Malone all of Greenock, Scotland; several nieces, nephews, and cousins. A memorial service was held Friday, March 27 in the American Legion Post 418 in Phoenix, N.Y.  A spring burial will occur on a week day at a later date in Pennellville Cemetery, Schroeppel.

Dennis W. Norton

Norton, DennisDennis W. Norton, 70, of Volney, passed away on Tuesday, March 24 at University Hospital in Syracuse. A native of Fulton, he was the son of the late Earl and Dorothy Reeves Norton and was a life resident of the Volney area. Dennis retired in 1999 as maintenance supervisor at Oswego County Department of Social Services in Mexico and he had previously worked for over 25 years as maintenance supervisor at Pathfinder Courts in Fulton. He served in the U.S. Air Force. Dennis was an active member and trustee of Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church in Volney. He enjoyed his Harley Davidson motorcycles and was a founding member of the local Harley Davidson Dressers of America Association. Dennis was well known for his handyman “fix it” ability and was often seen helping and delivering for his daughter’s floral shop, DeVine Designs. Surviving are his wife of 49 years, Rita Mouchka Norton of Volney; two daughters, Teresa (Roy) Poudrier and Gail (Ernie Brown) Norton all of Fulton; two grandchildren, Jonathon Beeles of Oswego and Jamie Beeles of Fulton; two brothers, Earl Norton of Hannibal and Gordon Norton of Fulton; several nieces and nephews. Calling hours are 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, March 30 at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay Street, Fulton with services 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 31 at Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church, County Route 45, Volney. Burial with military honors will be in the spring. Memorial contributions may be made to Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church or to the Salvation Army of Fulton.

Allen’s informant status highlights Thibodeau hearing

Two former Oswego County Sheriff’s Office investigators testified Thursday that Heidi Allen provided no substantive confidential information to police, but Gary Thibodeau’s defense team argued she was still in danger because her confidentiality had been breached.

Allen went missing in April of 1994 — last seen at the D&W Convenience Store in New Haven — and Thibodeau’s conviction of kidnapping her has come under fire with witnesses naming new suspects and the defense team arguing Allen’s perceived status as an informant gave others a motive.

Allen’s confidential informant identification card — called a “pedigree card” by investigators — was dropped and later found sometime in 1992, according to sheriff’s office records.

Much of Thursday’s testimony centered on whether this index card — which contained a code name, personal details and thumbprints — was discussed or seen publicly, or gave the impression Allen was an informant.

Investigator Christopher Van Patten said he interviewed Allen on Dec. 11, 1991, after hearing from former judge Russell Sturtz — Allen’s uncle and a friend of Van Patten’s — that she wanted to share some information on illegal drug use in the county.

“It was basically rumor mill,” Van Patten testified, “what she heard on the street.” It was Van Patten — whose patrol included the D& W, where he sometimes used the payphone — who had control of Allen’s pedigree card, though he said he did not know when or how exactly he had dropped it.

Van Patten testified he never worked with Allen again or had any further contact with her. He said he found out about the lost card in late January of 1992, when Sgt. John Cox assigned deputy Michael Montgomery to retrieve the card from the D& W, where owner Kristine Duell had called in after finding it.

The card was then put in Van Patten’s mailbox at the sheriff’s office, according to Va n Patten.

During cross-examination, he told federal public defender Lisa Peebles he never notified Allen or her family about the lost card. He also told Peebles that his training on working with confidential informants was limited.

Van Patten confirmed with chief assistant district attorney Mark Moody that the pedigree card gave no indication of Allen’s status as an informant.

But the investigator also told Peebles that anyone seeing the card would have no idea what Allen was doing for the sheriff’s office, with Peebles arguing a drug dealer seeing the card would be “concerned,” or have a motive to harm Allen.

Investigator Michael Anderson testified he interviewed Allen and her boyfriend Brett Law sometime after Van Pat-ten had met with her. Like Van Patten, Anderson said Allen’s contribution as an informant was nothing of significance.

“It was kid stuff,” said Anderson, noting the conversation took only around 15 minutes. He said he never got any names out of Allen and never met her again. He said the conversation never led to any investigation or arrests.

The defense team questioned whether a confidential informant would be in danger if their confidentiality were breached.

“Generally speaking, yes,” Anderson testified. But he said an informant should only be notified that they’d been compromised if they were indeed, “an active informant.” Anderson said, however, that he would have performed more follow up to discover how the card was lost and the circumstances of its discovery.

He also told Peebles he wasn’t aware of any sheriff’s office “standard operating procedure” in dealing with informant confidentiality being breached back in the early 1990s.

Duell testified she could not recall exactly when she found the pedigree card, and said she spoke with no one but her mother about it. She said she did not share it with Allen, an employee and a family friend.

Duell and her mother agreed not to tell anyone, and she decided to call the sheriff’s office, who picked it up in January of 1992 — little more than a month after Allen first met with them — according to sheriff’s office records.

Duell testified she did not know Michael Bohrer, with Peebles asking questions about regulars visiting from Spinners, the nearby bar and hotel where Bohrer testified he lived for a time.

Judge Daniel King told attorneys Thursday morning he had ruled against allowing testimony from three witnesses related to Bohrer’s 1981 false imprisonment conviction, according to the defense team.

Peebles wanted to recall Bohrer to the stand, saying his 1981 abduction of Catherine Schmitt in Wisconsin — when he grabbed Schmitt from behind and attempted to force her into a car — was similar enough to the Allen case that it would have been admissible in trial.

Prosecutors argued the cases were dissimilar, with no connecting factors or evidence, and the testimony should not be allowed.

King indicated Wednesday that he was leaning against allowing testimony on Bohrer’s 1981 case, because the defense appeared to be impeaching its own witness, which is not allowed.

His written ruling denying the testimony was not immediately available at the Oswego County Court Clerk’s office.

In January, Bohrer was on the stand for two days of emotional testimony involving a psychic, visions, his businesses and connections to the Thibodeaus and other newly named suspects James Steen and Roger Breckenridge.

Bohrer told the court he personally investigated the Allen case for 20 years, collecting tips and documents in an a large black briefcase.

Several times throughout the hearing, the defense team has attempted to bring Bohrer’s prior record — and other allegations of violence against women — before the court.

But each time, prosecutors have objected over relevancy and hearsay, with King largely sustaining their objections and shutting down the testimony.

King also ruled against allowing the defense to question former District Attorney Donald Dodd over trial transcript questions regarding Allen’s fingerprints.

King said the testimony was unnecessary because the transcript speaks for itself, but said in fairness to the defense, he would review the sections of the transcript they wanted to ask Dodd about.

Former ADA: All evidence in Allen case turned over

Staff Report

Former assistant district attorney Donald Dodd took the stand for more than five hours Wednesday, a day featuring heated exchanges over filing procedures and evidence disclosure in the hearing to determine if Gary Thibodeau deserves a new trial for his conviction of kidnapping Heidi Allen.

Prosecutors have tried to establish that Dodd and the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office investigators were thorough in ensuring Thibodeau’s defense attorney received all evidence in the case. The defense team, however, paints a picture of suppressed evidence and mismanaged files.

Dodd was adamant about two things: that all of the sheriff’s office investigation files were turned over to Gary and Richard Thibodeau’s attorneys — including documents related to Allen giving confidential information to investigators — and that Allen never actively worked as a confidential informant.

“Heidi Allen provided confidential information, I believe, on one occasion in 1991,” Dodd testified. “She never worked as a confidential informant.” Dodd made the distinction in line with what prosecutors have argued, that Allen provided some information to investigators but was not consistently tipping investigators off to criminal activity.

Thibodeau’s defense team, pointing to an informant identification card dropped in the parking lot of the same New Haven convenient store where Allen went missing, argues the perception of Allen as an informant gave other suspects a motive.

They also argue documents related to Allen giving confidential information were not properly disclosed to Thibodeau’s lawyer, Joseph Fahey.

Fahey testified in February he was unaware Allen was an informant and would have “raised holy hell” if he saw such documents in the middle of Thibodeau’s trial.

Cross-examining Dodd — and former Inv. Terry Whipple Tuesday — Bianco tried to establish that investigators didn’t place enough importance on Allen’s status as a confidential informant.

On Tuesday, Whipple said he was informed, “there was nothing to it,” in reference to Allen’s informant card being dropped. Dodd said he did not recollect whether the informant card itself was ever given a “lead number.” Dodd said, however, that Allen’s informant status was discussed openly in a pretrial proceeding Dec. 8, 1994, and that very day, he told investigators to provide him “the full file and record to find out if Allen at any time provided information as a confidential informant.” The next day, three investigators provided statements to Dodd revealing Allen had provided some information confidentially. Dodd said the statements were then photocopied and turned over to defense counsel.

“In fact, those documents were turned over personally to Fahey on Dec. 14, 1994,” Dodd testified.

Dodd said he spoke with both Fahey and William Walsh, Richard Thibodeau’s attorney, “on more than one occasion, to the best of [his] recollection,” about Allen providing confidential information.

Both attorneys came to the District Attorney’s office in March of 1995, where Dodd says the “entire” investigation file, including documents on Allen giving investigators information, were made available to the defense teams.

But Bianco questioned whether certain information about Allen’s informant status was not given to defense lawyers until the middle of Gary Thibodeau’s trial; Dodd said discovery was always ongoing.

Bianco also engaged in testy exchanges with Dodd over his record keeping, with both of them — and eventually Judge Daniel King — expressing frustration.

Dodd said he had no control over what items were assigned lead numbers, and made clear there was a required procedure, which included marking all original documents in the sheriff’s office case file with green ink to notify they were copied and turned over to defense counsel.

But Bianco pointed to cover letters without Oswego County letterhead, copies without green ink, or documents excluding specific references to Allen being an informant.

“They supposedly have this system where they stamp things, then they don’t,” said Bianco to King. “There’s a green marker, then there’s not.” Dodd asserted only originals were marked with green ink, and repeated that defense attorneys were shown, and given copies of, the entire case file, and received further discovery documents as time went on.

Bianco asked about a January 1995 court proceeding in which Walsh asked for more than 100 lead sheets and asked the court whether there should be a hearing on sanctions over Dodd’s sharing of evidence.

Bianco asked if Dodd didn’t think the original defense team was “entitled” to review the grand jury minutes from Richard Thibodeau’s trial.

Dodd later told Moody during redirect examination that he opposed disclosure of the grand jury minutes because the District Attorney’s Office didn’t have them completed yet, and because no indictment had been filed.

He said by law there’s no requirement to disclose grand jury minutes until after an indictment has been filed.

Bianco claimed Fahey — when asking for discovery documents in December of 1994 — was asking specifically for the confidential informant identification card.

“He was asking for the actual file and the actual file wasn’t given to him,” said Bianco.

“That’s absolutely incorrect,” replied Dodd, who said he couldn’t speak to what was in Fahey’s mind at the time, and “nor can [Bianco].” Dodd maintains Fahey asked for any information related to Allen providing confidential information, and a week later received everything the sheriff’s office had in the file at the time.

There was also some testimony on Michael Bohrer, with Dodd saying investigators ran a national criminal background check on Bohrer, which showed no record of any convictions or active warrants.

He did acknowledge to Bianco, however, that “you could still have a criminal record with an agency not entering it into the national system,” he said.

Dodd said investigators ran the background check on Bohrer because someone with a similar name — Michael Bort — was on Thibodeau’s lawyer’s witness list.

Dodd called Bohrer “part of the overall investigation,” saying he had been interviewed by the sheriff’s office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Dodd said it “absolutely” would have been significant for him to know Bohrer’s criminal record if he had one, just as it’s important for him to know information on “any suspect as part of the investigation.” But Dodd said he did not think “that was the case here,” and Bianco, after attempting to once again introduce more details of Bohrer’s 1981 false imprisonment conviction, was told to change her line of questioning by King.

King still needs to rule on whether to hear testimony from the victim in Bohrer’s 1981 conviction, and also whether to allow questions to Dodd regarding trial discussion of Allen’s fingerprints.

The hearing resumes today, from 8:45 a.m. to noon. After this week, the proceeding con-tinues April 7.

Fulton’s monthly garbage fees to rise in May

By Matthew Reitz
Fulton residents can expect to begin seeing a $2 increase in their monthly garbage fees this spring.
A quiet public hearing on the fee increase preceded the Common Council meeting on Tuesday night.  A few residents showed up to voice their opinions, but seemed content with the explanation given by Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. and the Common Council.
City officials said they were cornered into raising the fees by an increase in the county’s rates.
“If it was up to me, we would lower it $2 per month,” Woodward said, “but it is what it is.”
First Ward Councilor Tom Kenyon said the county keeps “double dipping” with local taxpayers.
“The county is hurting, and they keep passing it on to the municipalities,” said Kenyon. “It’s the same taxpayers that just keep paying.”
Members of the council noted that after the $2 monthly increase, the costs for Fulton residents will still be markedly lower than those in the City of Oswego and other area municipalities. Oswego residents pay significantly more at $71.11 per quarter than residents of Fulton will pay after the increase ($51 per quarter), councilors said.
The council voted unanimously to approve the $2 per month increase.  It will go into effect May 1.
The council also unanimously approved a series of food truck permits for Indian Point and Bullhead Point, which included Shannon’s Hotdogs, Dingo’s Lakeside Ice Cream and Tricky Dick’s Roadside Grill.  Woodward noted that the vendors would still need to go through criminal background checks to be granted a license.
The council also transferred $9,000 for demolition funds that Woodward said had initially been “transferred out of the wrong account.”
“This is just putting it back,” Woodward noted.

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