Mishaps in Claverack, Hillsdale leave two injured

CLAVERACK—Two Columbia County residents were seriously injured in separate, unrelated incidents the morning of Thursday, August 7.

A woman, who suffered burns to 90% of her body, was airlifted to the Westchester Medical Center Burn Unit in Valhalla following a shed fire, Thursday, August 7 at 6:15 a.m.

State Police from Livingston, along with the A. B. Shaw Fire (Claverack) Department and Greenport Rescue Squad were dispatched to a fire in a wooden shed near a residence at 5622 state routes 9H/23.

An investigation revealed that the homeowner was severely burned during the fire.

State Police have not released the woman’s name, but say she is currently listed in critical but stable condition. An investigation into the cause of the fire and the woman’s injury are continuing. The shed, located near the home, was fully involved when firefighters arrived on the scene.

A passing motorist reported the fire to the 911 center.

Also, Thursday morning at 10:27 a.m. a farm hand became trapped under a tractor at Honey Dog Farm, 284 Rodman Road in Hillsdale.

Columbia County Sheriff David P. Bartlett reports that deputies along with Craryville firefighters and the Community Rescue Squad were called to the farm to assist in aiding the trapped man.

Kenneth Rice, 73, of Churchtown was mowing the property on a Kubota L4310D tractor pulling a Flex Wing Woods mower. Mr. Rice climbed off the tractor to open a gate at the field entrance when the tractor began to roll toward him.

The front tire of the tractor ran over his body and Mr. Rice then became wedged under the axle of the left side rear cutter deck, which was not operating at the time.

He was taken by helicopter to Albany Medical Center for internal injuries.

Investigating for the Sheriff’s Office are Captain John DeRocha, Lieutenant Wayne Lopez, Sergeant Eli Fieser, Deputies Kelly Briscoe and Bernard Roberts.


State Police have found a missing mother and her child with the public’s help.

In a July 30 press release, State Police reported they were entering the eighth month of a missing persons investigation into the December 2013 disappearance of Nicia Wilson, 28, and her son Elijah Wilson, 1, formerly of Cohoes. The mother and son were temporary residents of a Columbia County shelter when they inexplicably disappeared in December.

Family members told State Police that Ms. Wilson and her son were fine, but refused to provide police with information they needed to confirm that and close the investigation.

In an update the following day State Police from Livingston thanked the public for its unwavering support, saying they were pleased to report that Elijah and Nicia Wilson were located in good health.


*Kevin T. Balogh, 18, of Schodack was charged with fourth degree criminal possession of a weapon (metal knuckles), a class A misdemeanor, and Christopher R. Lewis, 18, of Castleton was charged with possession of alcohol by a person less than 21 years old and unlawful possession of marijuana, both violations, by State Police from Kinderhook, July 26.

The two teens were in a vehicle being driven by Mr. Lewis, which troopers pulled over because it had a headlight and tail light out. They were both issued tickets returnable in Kinderhook Town Court.


The following face drug and/or alcohol-related charges:

*Robert J. Knott, 54, of Hudson was charged on a Hudson City Court arrest warrant for criminal possession of a controlled substance by Hudson Police Officer Kevin Sweet at 718 Columbia Street, Hudson, July 22 at 12:22 a.m. Mr. Knott was charged for allegedly possessing crack cocaine after he was stopped because he was wanted on an active warrant. He was held for arraignment.

*Lynn R. Ferguson, 27, of Wallingford, CT, was charged with two counts of fourth degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class C felony, two counts of seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor, possession of a hypodermic instrument, a class A misdemeanor, and unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation, by State Police from Livingston, July 23 at 9:46 p.m. While patrolling State Route 71 in Hillsdale, troopers conducted a traffic stop on the Ferguson vehicle for an equipment violation. During an interview with the vehicle operator, an odor of marijuana was detected. Subsequent investigation revealed that Ms. Ferguson, a passenger in the vehicle, was in possession of more than 13 grams of crack cocaine, more than 4 grams of heroin and hypodermic needles, police said. Ms. Ferguson was arraigned in Hillsdale Court and sent to the Columbia County Jail in lieu of $1,000 bail.

To contact Diane Valden email .

Search continues for missing Chatham man


CHATHAM—State Police are looking for a missing Chatham man.

Officials say they were told by his parents that Benjamin Kaufmann, 33, of Chatham left his residence for a walk around 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, August 6 and did not return. State Police Sergeant Robin Reed told The Columbia Paper this week, there were no updates to report.

State Police, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers have been conducting an extensive search of the area off State Route 203 using aviation, K-9s, all-terrain vehicles and foot patrols.

Mr. Kaufmann is described as a white male with brown hair and brown eyes. He is 6’2″ tall and weighs about 210 pounds. He was last seen wearing dark-colored shorts and no shirt.

Anyone with information is asked to call State Police at 518 851-3111.

Gooley found guilty of sex abuse


HUDSON—James M. Gooley, a/k/a James Murray, a/k/a James Gooley Murray, 70, of Valatie, originally from Kinderhook, was found guilty by a jury of one count of first degree sexual abuse in Columbia County Court, Tuesday, August 12.

He was initially indicted by a Grand Jury on six counts: two counts of criminal sex act and four counts of first degree sexual abuse related to having sexual contact with two children.

He was convicted of sexually abusing a seven-year-old boy in 2004 and found not guilty on the remaining charges.

The jury deliberated for about 10 hours over two days, according to Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka.

County Judge Richard Koweek presided over the trial and Mr. Gooley was represented by Attorney Dennis Schlenker.

The case took an interesting turn, when at start of proceedings Friday, August 8, Mr. Gooley, who was out on bail, failed to show up.

It was subsequently learned that Mr. Gooley was intentionally involved in a Castleton car crash early Friday morning. The crash occurred after Mr. Gooley ingested anti-freeze, the DA said.

Mr. Gooley remains hospitalized at the Albany Medical Center.

Judge Koweek conducted a hearing on the issue of Mr. Gooley’s absence Monday, August 11 and determined the trial should go on without him, the DA said.

Sentencing is set for October 15, but DA Czajka said he planned to write a letter to the judge seeking to accelerate sentencing in order to save taxpayers some money.

Mr. Gooley is currently under around-the-clock State Police guard at the hospital.



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