Burglary Arrest

Seneca County Sheriff W. Timothy Luce reports on November 17, 2022, at about 4:57am, the Seneca County E-911 Center received a call for a burglary in progress at a residence on Route 96 in the Town of Covert. Upon the arrival of Sheriff’s Deputies, the suspect had fled the scene on foot into a wooded area and was possibly armed. A perimeter was set up and a hyper-reach was sent out by the E-911 Center for residents to “shelter in place” within close proximity of the residence. While Sheriff’s Deputies searched the area, a second burglary was discovered at a neighboring residence. At that scene, the suspect had attempted to steal a motor vehicle on the property and had stolen a handgun. At about 7:59am, Sheriff’s Deputies placed the suspect in custody after he entered another residence in the immediate area. The stolen handgun was also recovered in close proximity to the scenes after it was detected by the Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit.

As a result of the investigation, Sheriff’s Investigators charged Leandre D. Lovett, age 29, no permanent address, Ithaca, New York, with the following:
• Burglary in the Second Degree (two counts)
• Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree
• Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree
• Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree
• Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree
• Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree
• Petit Larceny

Lovett was held at the Seneca County Correctional Facility and will be arraigned in the Seneca County Centralized Arraignment Court on November 17, 2022 at 7pm. Lovett is currently on New York State Parole supervision.

The New York State Police, Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office, Ithaca Police Department, and Trumansburg Police Department assisted in the investigation.

If any residents in the Town of Covert would like to report any suspicious activity or additional information in relation to this case, they are encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division at (315) 220-3240.

Menacing Arrest

Seneca County Sheriff W. Timothy Luce reports on November 14, 2022, at about 10:56am, Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a residence in the Village of Ovid for the report of a male that had been making threats of self-harm and possibly armed. Upon arrival of Sheriff’s Deputies, the male had fled the residence and was believed to be on foot in the Village of Ovid. Due to the male’s erratic behavior, threats, and close proximity to the school, Sheriff’s Deputies coordinated with officials from the South Seneca Central Schools and made a request to have the school placed in lockdown. Sheriff’s Deputies also alerted downtown businesses and conducted a search for the male. A short time later, the male was located behind a business and the male exited a wooded area and immediately threated to kill a Sheriff’s Office Road Patrol Sergeant while swinging a piece of lumber towards the officer. The male suspect then fled the scene on foot and ultimately ran into moving traffic on Route 96 in the Town of Ovid. The male was taken into custody after the brief foot pursuit. The male was identified as Hernes Valencia-Arboleda, age 25, of 7188 Main Street, Ovid New York. He was charged with Menacing in the Second Degree and was released on an appearance ticket to appear in the Ovid Town Court at a later date.
The New York State Park Police and New York State Police also assisted at the scene.

Welfare Fraud Arrests

The Seneca County Sheriff’s Office reports Investigators arrested six people in relation to welfare fraud charges on November 2, 2022. The arrests stemmed from joint investigations between Sheriff’s Investigators and the Seneca County Division of Human Services.

Arrested were the following:

Katherine A. McConaughy, age 65, of 2345 Lower Lake Road, Seneca Falls, New York, was charged with Welfare Fraud in the Fourth Degree and Misuse of Food Stamps. It is alleged that McConaughy failed to disclose household income while receiving monetary benefits from Seneca County. McConaughy was released on an appearance ticket and is to appear in the Waterloo Village Court on November 16, 2022, at 6pm.

Cherie E. Smith, age 33, of 510 Route 318, Phelps, New York, was charged with Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree and Misuse of Food Stamps. It is alleged that Smith failed to disclose household income while receiving monetary benefits from Seneca County. Smith was released on an appearance ticket and is to appear in the Waterloo Village Court on November 16, 2022, at 6pm.

Robin S. Pearson, age 54, of 41 Church Street, Apartment A5, Waterloo, New York, was charged with three counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree. It is alleged that Pearson filed false information when attempting to gain monetary benefits from Seneca County. Pearson was released on an appearance ticket and is to appear in the Waterloo Village Court on November 16, 2022, at 6pm.

Bethany A. Arnold, age 33, of 941 Waterloo/Geneva Road, Lot 55, Waterloo, New York, was charged with Misuse of Food Stamps and Welfare Fraud in the Fourth Degree. It is alleged that Arnold failed to disclose household income while receiving monetary benefits from Seneca County. Arnold was released on an appearance ticket and is to appear in the Waterloo Village Court on November 16, 2022, at 6pm.

Sarah R. McClanahan, age 34, of 206 East Williams Street, Waterloo, New York, was charged with Misuse of Food Stamps and Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree. It is alleged that McClanahan failed to disclose household income while receiving monetary benefits from Seneca County. McClanahan was released on an appearance ticket and is to appear in the Waterloo Village Court on November 16, 2022, at 6pm.

Colter J. Morrison, age 36, of 411 West Miller Street, Newark, New York, was arrested on a Bench Warrant for failing to appear in the Waterloo Village Court on charges of Welfare Fraud in the Fifth Degree and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree. Morrison was taken into custody by the Newark Police Department and turned over to the Sheriff’s Office. Morrison was held in the Seneca County Correctional Facility and arraigned in the Seneca County Centralized Arraignment Court. Morrison is to reappear in the Waterloo Village Court at a later date.

Narcotics Arrests

The Seneca County Sheriff’s Office reports, on October 24th, 2022, members of the Narcotics Unit arrested Edward Lee Cottman, age 48, and Ronald R. Hawker, age 68, both of Waterloo, NY. Cottman was charged with one count of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the third degree. Hawker was charged with Conspiracy in the fourth degree and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the seventh degree. It is alleged that Cottman sold crack cocaine to Hawker while in the Town of Waterloo. In furtherance of the investigation, Cottman was found to be in possession of 30 grams of cocaine and approximately $11,000 in U.S. Currency. Cottman was arraigned at CAP and Hawker was released on appearance tickets. The Sheriff’s Office reports that the investigation is still active and further arrests are forthcoming. Sheriff’s Investigators were assisted by the Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit, Geneva Police Department, Ontario County Sheriff’s Office, Canandaigua Police Department, and New York State Police.

Criminal Possession of a Weapon/Criminal Contempt Arrest

The Seneca County Sheriff’s Office reports on October 28th, 2022, members of the Narcotics Unit arrested Johnathan Swick, age 30 of 7952 County Road 153, Ovid, New York, for two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the third degree and one count of Criminal Contempt in the second degree. It is alleged that Swick possessed a .50 caliber assault weapon and a large capacity ammunition feeding device while he was the defendant in a valid class “A” order of protection. Said order of protection barred him from possessing firearms. Swick was arraigned at CAP and released on his own recognizance. Sheriff’s Investigators were assisted by members of the New York State Police.

Update to Fatal Motor Vehicle Accident

The Seneca County Sheriff’s Office reports on October 13, 2022, at about 10:50am, Deputies and Investigators responded to the area of State Route 318 just west of Gravel Road in the Town of Tyre for the report of a personal injury accident involving three vehicles. A westbound vehicle being operated by Deborah L. Patsos, age 75, of 214 Route 414, Waterloo, New York, crossed the center line on a curve and struck an eastbound tractor trailer head-on. The tractor trailer was being operated by Vitaliy Pratsovnik, age 44, of 6482 State Road, Apartment E12, Parma, Ohio. Pratsovnik attempted to take evasive action to avoid the collision, but was unsuccessful. Following the initial collision, Patsos’ vehicle was struck by another vehicle that was traveling westbound on Route 318. The third vehicle was operated by Michael A. Janes, age 58, of 8205 Dixon Road, Camden, New York. Due to the severity of injuries sustained in the accident, Patsos was pronounced deceased at the scene by Seneca County Coroner Keith Jay. The other two drivers were checked over by North Seneca Ambulance at the scene, but declined medical attention. All three vehicles suffered extensive damage and were towed from the scene. The Sheriff’s Office Accident Reconstruction Team responded to the scene to determine the cause of the accident.

The Clyde Fire Department, Seneca Falls Fire Department, Waterloo Fire Department, Border City Fire Department, and Seneca County Fire Coordinator’s Office also responded to the scene.

The Sheriff’s Office was additionally assisted by Seneca County E-911, Seneca Falls Police Department, New York State Police, and the New York State Department of Transportation. A portion of State Route 318 was shut down in both directions for several hours while the scene was being investigated and cleared. The accident remains under investigation.


Murder Investigation

Seneca County Sheriff W. Timothy Luce reports an update to the murder investigation in the Town of Waterloo.

On September 30, 2022, at about 1:08am, the Seneca County E-911 Center received a call of a male that had been shot at 121 Route 96 in the Town of Waterloo. Members of the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police, and Waterloo Police Department immediately responded to the scene. Upon their arrival, the suspects had fled the scene. Officers immediately started rendering aid to the victim. The victim was then transported to Geneva General Hospital by North Seneca Ambulance where he was pronounced dead. The victim has been identified as William J. Waugh, age 33, of 404 Vine Street, Euless, Texas.

An intense investigation was immediately launched by Seneca County Sheriff’s Investigators with assistance from the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Ontario County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division, and Seneca County District Attorney’s Office. At this time, Sheriff Luce can report that two male suspects are now in custody in relation to the incident.

Christopher T. Kesterson, age 36, of 12 Quarry Street, Phelps, New York, has been charged with Murder in the Second Degree and Assault in the First Degree in relation to his role in the crime. Kesterson was arraigned in the Seneca County Centralized Arraignment Court on October 1, 2022, and remanded to the Seneca County Correctional Facility on no bail. Kesterson is to reappear in the Waterloo Town Court on October 5, 2022, at 5pm.

Wayne J. Ellison, Jr., age 37, of 75 Virginia Street, Apt. 2, Waterloo, New York, is currently being held in Tampa, Florida, on an arrest warrant on charges of Murder in the Second Degree, Criminal Use of a Firearm in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Ellison was taken into custody by the Tampa Police Department and will be extradited back to the State of New York at a later date.

Sheriff Luce would like to thank the New York State Police, Ontario County Sheriff’s Office, Geneva Police Department, Seneca Falls Police Department, Seneca County E-911 Center, Tampa Police Department, and the Waterloo Police Department for their assistance in this case.

At this time, Seneca County Sheriff’s Investigators are continuing the investigation and all media inquiries may be directed to Investigator Lieutenant Tim Thompson by e-mail at tthompson@co.seneca.ny.us or by phone at (315) 220-3449.



Murder Investigation

The Seneca County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division is currently conducting a murder investigation in the Town of Waterloo. At this point, the investigation is ongoing and more details will be released when available. Sheriff Luce can confirm that the victim was the intended target and this was not a random act of violence. Sheriff Luce also reports there should be no further risk to the community and residents should not be alarmed. The Sheriff’s Office is working closely with the Seneca County District Attorney’s Office, Ontario County Sheriff’s Office, and New York State Police. Anyone with information related to the case is encouraged to contact Lt. Thompson at (315) 220-3449.

Suspicious Incidents

The Seneca County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating three suspicious incidents that have occurred in the Towns of Lodi and Ovid over the past week. Sheriff’s Deputies have received three reports of what appears to be glass jars being thrown at moving vehicles by the occupants of an oncoming vehicle. As the vehicles pass each other in opposite directions, the suspects are engaging in the acts. The first two reports occurred on September 14th on Route 414 in the Town of Lodi which resulted in property damage to one vehicle and no damage to the second vehicle. The third report occurred on September 17th on Route 96 in the Town of Ovid which resulted in the driver being injured and his vehicle leaving the roadway. All three incidents occurred in the evening hours after it was dark. Sheriff’s Investigators are actively pursuing leads and are seeking information from the public. If anyone has any information, they are asked to contact Lt. Thompson by phone at (315) 220-3449 or by e-mail at tthompson@co.seneca.ny.us. Information may be kept confidential.

Welfare Fraud/Weapon Arrest

The Seneca County Sheriff’s Office reports on September 14th , 2022, Sheriff’s Investigators arrested David L Brinson, age 59, of 3053 Seneca Blvd., Waterloo, New York. Brinson was arrested on two counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the 1st Degree. During the course of the investigation, Brinson was also found to be in possession of a rifle. Due to his prior felony convictions, he was subsequently charged with Criminal Possession of a Firearm in the 4th degree. Brinson was arraigned at the Centralized Arraignment Court and held on no bail due to his previous felony convictions. The Sheriff’s Office was assisted by members of New York State Parole.