Sheriff warns of ‘phony sheriff’ phone scam

GREENPORT—Columbia County Sheriff David P. Bartlett warned residents to beware of a new telephone scam in a January 19, press release.

Four citizens, so far, have reported having received phone calls from someone stating that he works for the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and is requesting money to pay a fine.

The citizens reported that the main number for the Sheriff’s Office, 518-828-3344, appears on their caller ID. In one of the calls the person identified himself as Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Wayne Lopez.

A citizen was told in one of the calls that they missed jury duty and a $2,000 fine had been set.

The caller told the citizen that a “failure to appear” judgment was brought against them and then proceeded to give several convincing confirmation numbers to make the scam seem very realistic.

The citizen was instructed to purchase Visa gift cards at a local retail store and send the cards to them at an address provided. The address given is in Washington, D.C.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office will never call and ask for payments over the phone and if the Sheriff’s Civil Office is enforcing a judgment, that individual would be first notified by mail, Sheriff Bartlett said in the release, adding, at no time would gift cards ever be an acceptable form of payment.

These types of scams have become very popular and with current technology the identification of the criminal is nearly impossible to ascertain, the release said.

The sheriff asks anyone who has been the victim of this scam to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 518-828-3344.

*A man jumped to his death from the Rip Van Winkle Bridge into the Hudson River, January 16.

Columbia County 911 dispatched the Greenport Fire Department and Greenport Rescue Squad to the call at 2 p.m.

State Police Troop K Public Information Officer Trooper A.J. Hicks, said the Bridge Authority was the caller and the victim, James J. Zegers, 71, of Valatie was found dead upon arrival.

An obituary for Mr. Zegers appears in this issue.

Greenport Police, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and State Police investigated on scene.

Athens and Hudson firefighters were requested with their boats for recovery of the body.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation and County Fire Coordinators assisted on scene. Coroner Bernadette Powis was called to the scene. Firefighters were back in service at 5:56 p.m.

*Steven Weathersbe, 51, of Hudson was charged with fourth degree grand larceny, a class E felony, by Deputies Steven Rose and Peter Merante, December 31 at 10:25 p.m.

Mr. Weathersbe is accused of stealing more than $1,600 worth of merchandise from the Greenport Walmart department store. He was arraigned in Claverack Court and was sent to the Columbia County Jail in lieu of $250 bail or $500 bond. He was to appear in Greenport Court at a later date.

Kinderhook

Lawrence Hermance, III, 20, of Valatie was charged with third degree criminal mischief, a class E felony, by Deputy Thomas Merante, December 29 at 7:15 a.m.

Mr. Hermance is accused of damaging the field at Rothermel Park in the Village of Kinderhook with his vehicle. The amount of damage is estimated at $665. He was issued an appearance ticket returnable in Kinderhook Village Court at a later date.

Ghent

Garret Simmons, 23, of Hudson was charged with first degree offering a false instrument to file, a class E felony, by Deputy Ryen Boehme, January 2 at 2:22 p.m.

Mr. Simmons is accused of falsifying information on an official governmental document. He was arraigned in Claverack Court and was released on his own recognizance. He will appear in Ghent Court at a later date.

Claverack

Michael Walters, 35, of Stuyvesant was charged with fourth degree grand larceny, a class E felony, and petit larceny, a class A misdemeanor, by Deputy Steven Rose, January 5 at 12:11 p.m.

Mr. Walters allegedly stole a credit/debit card and used it. He was arraigned in Claverack Court and was released on his own recognizance. He will appear back in court at a later date.

*Eric Pilch, 47, of Copake was charged with second degree obstructing governmental administration, a class A misdemeanor; driving while intoxicated (DWI), a class U misdemeanor, and failure to keep right, a traffic infraction, by Deputies Zachary Torchia and Daniel Keyser, December 9 at 12:08 a.m.

Deputies were dispatched by Columbia County 911 for report of a one-vehicle personal injury accident on State Route 23 at the intersection of County Route 16. While deputies were investigating, Mr. Pilch allegedly ignored deputies’ commands and tried to flee the scene on foot. He was issued appearance tickets returnable in Claverack Court January 29.

*Shamonique Bell, 23, of Catskill was charged with second degree criminal contempt, a class A misdemeanor, by Deputy Ryen Boehme, December 26 at 2:55 p.m.

Ms. Bell is accused of violating an order of protection. She was issued an appearance ticket returnable in Claverack Court at a later date.

Stuyvesant

An 18-year-old male from Stuyvesant, not identified by the Sheriff’s Office, was charged with second degree aggravated harassment and fourth degree criminal possession of a weapon, both class A misdemeanors, by Deputies Brian McSween and Jordan Brahm, January 2 at 7:48 p.m.

The teen is accused of threatening a female victim over the phone and was arrested after he went to the victim’s residence. He was allegedly in possession of metal knuckles and various illegal knives. He was arraigned in Stuyvesant Court and was released on his own recognizance. He is scheduled to return to court February 6.

Copake

Jimmy McBroom, 43, of Ancramdale was charged on a warrant for fourth degree criminal mischief and endangering the welfare of a child, both class A misdemeanors, and second degree harassment, a violation, by Deputies Daniel Keyser and Bernard Roberts, December 29 at 5:23 a.m.

Mr. McBroom is accused of smacking a female victim and destroying property at a private residence in Copake. Children were present during the altercation. He was arraigned in Copake Court and was released on his own recognizance to return to court January 28.

Drugs / alcohol

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

*Deputies arrested two men for drugs after a traffic stop on State Route 9J in Stockport, December 22 at 10:40 p.m. John Dobrouch, 41, of Hudson was charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and possession of a hypodermic instrument, both class A misdemeanors; second degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a class U misdemeanor; operating with no vehicle inspection and having an inadequate exhaust system, both traffic infractions, by K9 Deputy Jason Garvey and Deputy Peter Merante. Mr. Dobrouch was stopped for some vehicle equipment violations. He allegedly possessed a quantity of heroin and was driving with a suspended license. The passenger, James Jennings, 31, of Hudson was charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and possession of a hypodermic instrument, both class A misdemeanors. Mr. Jennings allegedly possessed of a quantity of crack cocaine and syringes. Both defendants were issued appearance tickets returnable in Stockport Court at a later date.

*Naomi Greene, 35, of Elizaville was charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and possession of a hypodermic instrument, both class A misdemeanors and having an inadequate head lamp by Deputy Daniel Keyser, December 22 at 12:56 a.m. Ms. Greene was stopped on Stevers Crossing Road in Claverack for a headlight violation. She was allegedly in possession of a quantity of heroin, cocaine and syringes. She was issued appearance tickets returnable in Claverack Court at a later date.

*Yolanda Almestica-Rivera, 55, of Hudson was charged with tampering with physical evidence, a class E felony; seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor; second degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a class U misdemeanor; and operating with unsafe tires, a traffic infraction, by Sheriff’s Office First Sergeant John Rivero and K9 Deputy Jason Garvey December 26 at 8:48 a.m. Ms. Almestica-Rivera was stopped on State Route 66 in Greenport because her tire had blown out and she was driving on her rim. She was operating with a suspended license and allegedly possessed a quantity of crack cocaine, which she attempted to destroy. She was issued appearance tickets returnable in Greenport Court at a later date.

*William Chase, 63, of Craryville was charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than .08%, both class U misdemeanors; speeding and consumption of an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle, both traffic infractions, by Deputy Matthew Leonard, December 29 at 10:55 p.m. Mr. Chase was stopped for speeding while driving on County Route 7 in Copake. He allegedly had an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the vehicle. He was administered a breathalyzer test that yielded a .17% BAC. He was released on tickets and will appear in Copake Court January 28.

*Geoffrey Gott, 58, of Lakeville CT, was charged with DWI, a class U misdemeanor, and failure to keep right, a traffic infraction, by Deputy Matthew Leonard December 30 at 7:32 p.m. Deputy Leonard was assigned to handle a property damage accident on State Route 22 at the intersection with Old Route 22 in Copake. He found that Mr. Gott’s vehicle was damaged and he was still behind the wheel. He was administered field sobriety tests, which he failed. He was arraigned in Copake Court and released on his own recognizance to return to court January 28.

*An 18-year-old male from Hudson, not identified by the Sheriff’s Office, was charged with fifth degree criminal possession of marijuana, a class B misdemeanor, and failure to keep right, a traffic infraction, by K9 Deputy Jason Garvey and Deputy Peter Merante December 30 at 12:20 a.m.

The teen was stopped while driving on Fairview Avenue in Greenport for failing to keep right. He allegedly possessed 29 grams of marijuana. He was issued tickets returnable in Greenport Court at a later date.

*Anthony Lipari, 41, of Chatham was charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor, and driving with no license, a traffic infraction, by  Deputies Jordan Brahm and Thomas Merante, January 3 at 7:35 p.m. Mr. Lipari was stopped while driving on Fairview Avenue in Greenport for not having a driver’s license. He was allegedly found in possession of a quantity of heroin. He was issued tickets returnable in Greenport Court at a later date.

To contact Diane Valden email moc.r1555715612epapa1555715612ibmul1555715612oc@ne1555715612dlavd1555715612

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