Rhonda and reptile reunited, but gator probe goes on

NEW LEBANON—Kobe, the traveling alligator, has returned home.

The six-foot-long, 10-year-old reptile was stolen or escaped his enclosure once again, this time in the early evening hours of May 25.

Sheriff David P. Bartlett said in a press release that members of his office were investigating a reported burglary at Rhonda’s Reptiles on Cemetery Road.

Rhonda Leavitt and her alligator, Kobe. Photo by Lance Wheeler

Taken was Kobe the alligator, described as identifiable by “a scar on face, tip of tail missing and hole in one of the back web part of foot, not sure which side.”

Rhonda Leavitt, owner and founder of Rhonda’s Reptiles, is both licensed and permitted to possess the alligator.

The sheriff asked anyone with information regarding Kobe’s whereabouts to contact Sheriff’s Office Investigator Ian Boehme at 518-828-3344.

A second Sheriff’s Office release said Kobe was located on a neighbor’s property, June 2. “The owner responded to the location and safely collected it.”

Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Wayne Lopez told The Columbia Paper this week that whether or not Kobe was stolen is still under investigation.

The lieutenant said no surveillance footage was provided to investigators and no charges have been filed.

During Kobe’s week-long absence Ms. Leavitt offered a $2,000 reward for his return.

On her reptile Facebook page, she wrote, “Thank you everyone for your prayers and putting the word out to get Kobe home. He is safe, and although everyone has a million questions, I am not at liberty to discuss the details of his return. Thank you all again.”

Back in August 2013, State Police sought the public’s assistance to find the missing Kobe, who was initially thought to have slipped out of his confines while it was being cleaned.

Police later believed the reptile was stolen.

At that time, Kobe was four-years-old and a mere 39-inches long.

On September 5, two weeks to the day after Kobe’s disappearance, Ms. Leavitt received a tip that her missing alligator was spotted in a local swimming hole created by a beaver dam on the Wyomanock Creek, She went there, jumped in and snapped him up.

Though a person of interest was identified back then, according to local animal control officer Wes Powell, State Police declared the case closed without charging anyone.

As a result of the incident, Ms. Leavitt installed a security monitoring system, said Mr. Powell.


Two men traveling back to the New York City area were arrested for drug possession in Claverack, May 23.

State Police from the Livingston barracks arrested Benjamin C. Meyer, 24, of Brooklyn for fourth degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class C felony; tampering with physical evidence, a class E felony; four counts of seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor, and fifth degree criminal possession of marijuana, a class B misdemeanor.

Also arrested was Zachary Costantini, 20, of Levittown for two counts of fourth degree criminal possession of a controlled substance; three counts of seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and fifth degree criminal possession of marijuana.

At 4:50 p.m., a trooper conducted a traffic stop on a 2019 Chevrolet on the Taconic State Parkway in Claverack for a violation of the vehicle and traffic law. An investigation revealed the occupants possessed about 1.4 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, 140 grams of edible marijuana, 54 grams of marijuana, 65 LSD dosages, 2.75 grams LSD candy, 2.6 grams of MDMA, 2 grams of Adderall, and 258 grams of concentrated cannabis.

During this incident Mr. Meyer allegedly attempted to tamper with evidence to avoid prosecution.

Both subjects were arraigned in Claverack Court, and sent to the Columbia County Jail by Justice Michael Brandon in lieu of $10,000 cash bail or $20,000 secure bond. They were scheduled to appear in court at a later date.

To contact Diane Valden email moc.r1566177980epapa1566177980ibmul1566177980oc@ne1566177980dlavd1566177980

Hudson Police and State Police worked together on the “Buckle up New York – Click It or Ticket” enforcement campaign. Photo contributed

Agencies join forces for ‘Buckle UP’ campaign

HUDSON—City of Hudson Police and State Police participated together in the “Buckle up New York – Click It or Ticket” enforcement campaign, Wednesday, May 22.

A traffic road check was conducted on South Third Street coming into the City. The “Click It or Ticket” detail is a statewide traffic enforcement effort involving numerous police agencies. All agencies that participate in this program receive additional funding through the Police Traffic Services (PTS) Program, administered by Governor Cuomo’s Traffic Safety

Committee. The overall goal of the road checks is to reinforce the use of seatbelts and car seats.

The 2019 Buckle UP New York Click It or Ticket detail ran for two-weeks.

Campaigns like “Click it or Ticket” have saved the lives of numerous citizens over the years. The average seatbelt compliance rate in 1983 was 14% throughout the United States. Today it is over 95%, with New York near the top.

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