Two-to-four year sentence ordered for dumping woman’s body

HUDSON—Rasheem Cotman, 33, of Queens received the maximum sentence for dumping the body of a Copake woman in the woods last September.

Columbia County Judge Jonathan Nichols sentenced Mr. Cotman to two to four years in prison for concealment of a human corpse, a class E felony, in Columbia County Court March 10, Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka told The Columbia Paper this week.

Rasheem Cotman (l) and his attorney Anthony M. Pastel of the Columbia County Public Defender’s Office (r) appeared in County Court for sentencing March 10. Assistant District Attorney James Carlucci is in the background. Photo by Lance Wheeler

Halle P. Schmidt, 21, of Copake was reported missing by her family September 4, 2016. She was found dead in the woods off Old Post Road, Kinderhook, September 10, 2016. Her body had been there for about a week Sheriff’s Office Senior Investigator Kevin Skype said at the time.

Ms. Schmidt was identified by matching clothing she was last seen wearing, body tattoos and information obtained through the investigation. Positive identification was confirmed by an autopsy conducted by Pathologist Dr. Jeffrey Hubbard at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, September 11. Results of lab tests on DNA and blood samples determined that a heroin overdose was the cause of her death.

Mr. Cotman has prior convictions on drug-related charges and was being housed at Rikers Island on a parole violation when he was taken into custody. He was a friend of Ms. Schmidt, the investigator said, and a witness identified as Molly was with Mr. Cotman and Ms. Schmidt at the Joslen Motor Lodge in Greenport the night of September 2 and into the morning of September 3.

After Mr. Cotman realized Ms. Schmidt was dead, he took her body to a wooded area off Old Post Road, left it there and returned to Queens. He said he panicked because he was on parole, had a violation and did not want to involve police, the investigator confirmed.

Mr. Cotman pleaded guilty to the charge last December.

Several of Ms. Schmidt’s relatives delivered victim impact statements in court Friday. Mr. Cotman apologized for his actions, said DA Czajka.

*Three officers at the Hudson Correctional Facility were hurt in an alleged fight with an unruly inmate March 7, according to a channel 6NEWS (WRGB) report.

New York State Correctional Officers Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOBPA) reported the fight started when 17-year-old inmate Ulyse Lugo allegedly refused to obey an officer, then attacked that officer when he tried to restrain the teen.

Two other officers intervened to try to subdue the teen, who continued to fight.

One of the officers suffered a broken ankle during the struggle; a second officer had a cut on his elbow and bruised ribs; a third officer had a minor injury to his knee, back and hand. Two of the officers were treated at Columbia Memorial Hospital.

Ulyse was transferred to Coxsackie Correctional Facility. He teen is serving a three-year sentence following a conviction in Bronx County this year for attempted criminal possession of a weapon.


Phillip Schmidt, 23, of Stottville was charged with first degree robbery by State Police, March 13, according to Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka.

Allegedly, Mr. Schmidt was armed with a long kitchen knife when he robbed the Valatie Stewart’s Shop the night of March 13. He was apprehended within hours and is now in the Columbia County Jail, the DA said.

No further information was available at press time.


Michael A. Madison, 39, of Greenport was charged with third degree criminal possession of a weapon—previous conviction, a class D felony, and second degree menacing, a class A misdemeanor, by Deputies Zachary Sohotra and Thomas Merante, February 26 at 7:45 p.m.

Mr. Madison is accused of threatening another male with a knife at a private residence in Greenport. He was arraigned in Claverack Court and sent to the Columbia County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in Greenport Town Court at a later date.


Wendy S. Eisermann, 36, of Copake was charged with third degree assault, a class A misdemeanor, by Deputy Patrick Mayo, March 2 at 9:13 p.m.

Ms. Eisermann is accused of punching a male in the face with a closed fist, while holding a set of car keys, causing injury at a private residence in Copake. She was arraigned in Copake Court and released on her own recognizance with a return court date of March 27.

* Two people were charged in connection with allegedly possessing a stolen snowmobile that was found in Copake.

Kyle Ellis, 27, of Copake and Ariel O’Dell, 22, of Hillsdale were both charged with fifth degree criminal possession of stolen property, a class A misdemeanor, by sheriff’s deputies, March 1 at 9:30 a.m.

Deputies received information from the Connecticut State Police that a snowmobile was stolen from a resident in Connecticut and that the snowmobile was possibly in the Copake area. Sergeant Eli Fieser, Deputies David Proper and Samantha Plass located the snowmobile on Connelly Road. Both defendants were issued appearance tickets returnable in Copake Court March 27.

* Donald J. Matteson, 24, of Hillsdale was charged with unlawful dealing with a child, a class A misdemeanor, by Deputy Zachary Sohotra February 24 at 8:15 p.m.

Mr. Matteson allegedly provided alcohol to a person under the age of 21. He was issued an appearance ticket returnable to Copake Court March 27.


A driver was hurt in a collision with a tree on County Route 11, near Prach Road, March 10 at 7:53 a.m.

Audrey Snow, 30, of Philmont was driving a 2013 Nissan headed south on County Route 11 when she lost control of the vehicle on the snowy and icy road. The vehicle went off road and struck a tree with its passenger side.

The Greenport Rescue Squad took Ms. Snow with arm and hand pain to Columbia Memorial Hospital for treatment.

The two children in the vehicle, ages 12 and 8, were not injured. Deputy Joseph Kilmer handled the accident and no tickets were issued. Philmont firefighters were back in service at 8:55 a.m.

To contact Diane Valden email moc.r1503174287epapa1503174287ibmul1503174287oc@ne1503174287dlavd1503174287

G’port firefighters make two house calls

GREENPORT—Greenport firefighters responded to two residential fires Tuesday, February 28.

The first fire was at the Plaza Court, 300 Town Hall Drive Apartment complex where a fire on an outside deck and wall caused minor damage at 2:11 p.m. The Greenport Rescue Squad was also on the scene. Greenport Police and Fire extinguished the fire, according to a press release from Greenport Fire Chief Gary Mazzacano. Firefighters were back in service at 3:12 p.m.

The second fire was at a single family residence at 19 Riverview Boulevard, at 7:23 p.m.

The lone occupant observed flames around light fixtures in the kitchen. She promptly called 911 and left the residence. Arriving firefighters saw heavy smoke coming from the attic area. Further investigation revealed that there was a fire in the attic area above the kitchen. Firefighters entered the attic through a ladder access in the garage and extinguished the fire.

The residence sustained damage in the attic area. The kitchen ceiling had to be removed. Additionally, there was smoke and water damage in other areas. The occupant was assisted by and went to stay with neighbors. No injuries were reported. Greenport firefighters were on the scene for several hours and were assisted by the Hudson Fire Department, Columbia County Fire Coordinators Office and the Greenport Rescue Squad. Chief Mazzacano suspects the cause to be electrical. Firefighter were back in service at 9:44 p.m.

Don’t drive after drinking green beer

HUDSON—Columbia County STOP-DWI announced that Columbia County police agencies will participate in a special enforcement effort to crackdown on impaired driving.

The statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown efforts run from March 17 through March 19.

St. Patrick’s Day Weekend is a notoriously deadly period for impaired driving due to the number of celebrations and drivers on the road. New York State Police, County Sheriff and municipal law enforcement agencies across the state will be out in force in this across the board effort to reduce the number of impaired driving injuries and deaths.

The STOP-DWI St. Patrick’s Day Weekend Crackdown is one of many statewide enforcement initiatives promoted by the New York State STOP-DWI Association and funded by local STOP-DWI programs as well as the STOP-DWI Foundation and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. Citizens can become part of the solution by downloading a free mobile app “Have A Plan” at

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