Police agencies charge ring of 8 in catalytic converter thefts

Stolen catalytic converters and a stolen wood chipper were among the items police recovered. Photos contributed

CLAVERACK—A string of investigations into stolen catalytic converter have led State Police to uncover a crime ring in Columbia County.

Since December 2021, the State Police in Columbia County have been investigating numerous larceny complaints in and around the Claverack area. Investigators tracking local crime trends had asked the public to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity to local law enforcement.

As a result, eight arrests were made June 14 after several lengthy and intense investigations thanks to the help of members of the communities, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office, State Police said in a press release.

After the execution of numerous search warrants including one at a residence on Route 217 in Claverack and two vehicle traffic stops the following subjects were arrested:

*Brad R. Hapeman, 48, of Claverack charged with five counts of third degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, B felony; third degree grand larceny, D felony; third degree criminal possession of stolen property, D felony; fifth degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, D felony; fifth degree conspiracy, misdemeanor; seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor; criminal use of drug paraphernalia, misdemeanor; reckless driving, unclassified misdemeanor

*Elizabeth Poulter, 31, of Claverack charged with four counts of third degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, B felony; third degree criminal possession of stolen property, D felony; fifth degree conspiracy, misdemeanor; seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor

*Tonya T. Perez, 39, of Claverack charged with four counts of third degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, B felony; fourth degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, C felony; third degree criminal possession of stolen property, D felony; first degree criminal nuisance, E felony; first degree aggravated unlicensed operation, E felony; fifth degree conspiracy, misdemeanor; two counts of seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor; second degree reckless endangerment, misdemeanor; driving while ability impaired by drugs, unclassified misdemeanor

*Crawford Boice, 29, of Ghent charged with four counts of third degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, B felony; third degree criminal possession of stolen property, D felony; fifth degree conspiracy, misdemeanor; seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor

*Angela Bridgham, 37, of Claverack charged with four counts of third degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, B felony; third degree criminal possession of stolen property, D felony; fifth degree conspiracy, misdemeanor; seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor

*James P. Charron, 23, of Claverack charged with four counts of third degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, B felony; third degree criminal possession of stolen property, D felony; first degree criminal nuisance, E felony; fifth degree conspiracy, misdemeanor; seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor

*Denise M. Charron, 57, of Claverack charged with four counts of third degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, B felony; third degree criminal possession of stolen property, D felony; first degree criminal nuisance, E felony; fifth degree conspiracy, misdemeanor; seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor

*Nichole L. Spillane, 24, of Hudson charged with four counts of third degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, B felony; third degree criminal possession of stolen property, D felony; fifth degree conspiracy, misdemeanor; seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor.

Stolen catalytic converters, various power tools, binoculars and spotting scopes, a dump trailer, and woodchipper were all recovered in the course of the investigations. Drugs seized included approximately 32.3 grams of cocaine, 4.3 grams of crack-cocaine, 2.7 grams of fentanyl, 9.9 grams of 3,4-Methyl/enedioxy/methamphetamine (MDMA), 5.6 grams of amphetamine heroin mixture, 3.4 grams of fentanyl heroin mixture, 15.8 grams of lorazepam, 0.9 grams of clonazepam, 0.4 grams of alprazolam, dozens of oxycodone pills, and a small amount of Percocet.

The above suspects were arraigned before Town Justice Michael Cozzolino in Claverack Court. Brad Hapeman was sent to the Columbia County Jail without bail, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for a later date. All others were released on their own recognizance to reappear before the court, July 12.

State Police have an arrest warrant and are still searching for Robert E. Perez, 41, of Claverack, for felony charges stemming from this investigation. Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Mr. Perez, should contact the State Police immediately. The public should not take any police-action themselves other than to call the State Police at 518-851-3111 or 845-677-7300. Use reference case# 10885236.

This investigation remains ongoing.

To contact Diane Valden email

Knife-wielding man convicted

Najahliek Edmunds

HUDSON—Defendant Najahliek Edmunds was convicted of menacing a police officer; a class D felony; and resisting arrest, a class A misdemeanor, in Columbia County Court before County Judge Richard M. Koweek, June 15.

According to a press release from District Attorney Paul Czajka, 12 jurors convicted Mr. Edmunds, 26, of Albany after about four hours of deliberation.

Hudson Police arrested Mr. Edmunds October 23, 2018 after they were called to Hudson Terrace Apartments for an emergency. When officers arrived, they encountered Mr. Edmunds holding a large kitchen knife while standing in a dark room. He was taken into custody without injury to police or the defendant.

DA Czajka commended the Hudson Police and ADA Veronica Concra, who prosecuted the case.

“ADA Concra organized and presented a difficult case. With her hard work, we hope like-minded offenders may be deterred from such violent behavior,” DA Czajka said in the release.

Mr. Edmunds is currently serving a life sentence in state prison for second degree murder.

Attorney Adam Staier represents Mr. Edmunds.

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