Husband and alleged accomplice charged with murder in the 2008 death of Catherine Novak

On December 13, 2008, 41-year-old Catherine Novak was found dead in her home in Narrowsburg, with the house engulfed in flames and debris from the burning building piled on top of her body. The case baffled police investigators, who could not determine a cause for the fire or explain why Novak's body was found in the basement.

Five years later, two new arrests may yield some answers. The New York State Police announced Thursday that two men have been arrested and charged with second-degree murder.  Read more

Angel's Gate animal hospice in Delhi to close

The Associated Press reports today that the Angel's Gate animal hospice in Delhi is facing legal action from the state Attorney General's office for improperly documented finances, and that owner Susan Marino has decided to shut the hospice down.

Angel's Gate and Marino came under fire last year after the animal-welfare activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filmed disturbing undercover footage at the facility. Marino was later arrested on animal cruelty charges.

Today, the AP reports that Angel's Gate has not properly accounted for over $1 million in donations given to the hospice in the last decade:  Read more

Shandaken's embattled building inspector resigns

Shandaken's zoning enforcement officer, Richard Stokes, is in the hot seat after his arrest last week on charges that he groped several waitresses at Rocco's Speakeasy in April. Amid the controversy, Stokes has stepped down from his job.

In an emergency meeting held this morning, the Shandaken town board voted unanimously to accept a request from Stokes to take a leave of absence without pay.

The board has appointed former town ZEO Art Christie to fill the slot temporarily, while they look for a permanent replacement for Stokes.

Rocco's owner accuses Shandaken ZEO of groping waitresses -- and unfairly singling out his business

Above: Rocco's owner Erik Risher in front of the restaurant in May, shortly after Rocco's opened its doors. Photo by Julia Reischel. For more photos of Rocco's, see our Flickr album.

Rocco's Speakeasy, a steakhouse and bar on Route 28 in Shandaken, has only been open for five months. But already, Erik Risher's restaurant is making headlines -- for a very public spat with Shandaken's zoning enforcement officer, Richard Stokes.

On September 10, Risher paid a visit to the regular monthly meeting of the Shandaken town board with some explosive allegations. According to Risher, Stokes was drinking in his restaurant on April 21, the night it opened, and began forcibly groping several waitresses.  Read more

Cracking down on -- and celebrating -- the Catskills pot harvest

Above: Cannabis sativa, ready for its closeup. Photo by Flickr user Sandra Nahdi, published under Creative Commons license.

With the local marijuana crop getting ready for harvest, it's also the season for big pot busts.

For three days last week, the Daily Mail reports today, law enforcement officers searched Greene County high and low for illicit pot growers. (Mostly high, we're guessing.)

The results? 515 pot plants found in eight Greene County towns, and 11 arrests either made or pending. Plants were found in Durham, Windham, Coxsackie, New Baltimore, Jewett, Cairo and Hunter.

The sweep was a joint effort between the Greene County Sheriff's Office and other local and state agencies, the Daily Mail reports:  Read more

Police seek information on reported child abduction in Newburgh

Update, 9/7: Newburgh police have called off the investigation, telling ABC News yesterday that the incident was a prank fabricated by children who claimed to witness the abduction. The Times Herald-Record reports that police studied videos from public surveillance cameras and private security systems before deciding that the incident was a false report.


New York State is on the lookout today for a five- or six-year-old girl who, according to witnesses, was abducted from outside a Newburgh school. But no name or photo of the girl has been released, and an Amber Alert issued late yesterday has been cancelled -- because, according to multiple news accounts, no one has filed a missing-person report with the police.

The Freeman reports:  Read more

Two Liberty residents charged with theft of guns

Two Liberty residents face burglary charges after a stolen rifle was found during a traffic stop, according to New York State Police.

On Thursday, August 30, Village of Liberty police stopped Liberty resident Lakiay Arevalo for a traffic violation. During the traffic stop, according to a New York State Police press release, Arevalo was found in possession of a Marlin 30-30 rifle.

Village police found that the rifle was part of the proceeds of a burglary outside of the village of Liberty. New York State troopers were contacted, and a joint investigation found that Arevalo and Enricky Rodriguez, both of Ahrens Road, Liberty, had broken into a Parksville home and stolen three long guns and a chainsaw. The other two guns and the chainsaw were found at the suspects' home.

Arevalo and Rodriguez were both arrested and charged with second-degree burglary. They were arraigned in the Town of Liberty. Arevalo was released on her own recognizance, and Rodriguez was remanded to the Sullivan County Jail.

Police seize 460 marijuana plants in Esperance

Above: Pot plants seized in Esperance. Photo courtesy of the New York State Police.

A 58-year-old Esperance man and a 64-year-old Sloansville man face multiple charges after police discovered 460 marijuana plants in four separate locations on Monday, according to a New York State Police press release.

Gregory F. Stevenson of Egelston Drive in Esperance and Ronald L. Ragan of Ragan Road in Sloansville were both charged after State Police in Cobleskill stopped a vehicle for a “routine violation” and subsequently learned information of where to seize the marijuana plants.

Stevenson was charged with unlawfully growing marijuana, criminal possession of marijuana, criminal possession of a controlled substance and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. Stevenson was arraigned in the town of Cobleskill court and sent to Schoharie County Jail on $2,500 bail.

Ragan was charged with unlawfully growing marijuana, unlawful possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of fireworks. He was issued an appearance ticket to the town of Esperance court for August 29.  Read more

Remains of Queens man found in Parksville

According to multiple news outlets, the skeletal remains of a Queens man who went missing in July were found along Route 17 on Monday afternoon.

State Police at Liberty found the remains of 77-year-old Robert Goode Jr. near the area of the new Route 17 Bypass in Parksville near Exit 98, according to a New York State Police press release. Goode had been reported missing to the New York City Police Department on July 12.

The Times Herald-Record reported that Goode’s family members had not seen him since the Fourth of July and that a construction worker found the remains of Goode  in a creek bed on the eastbound side of the highway.

An autopsy was performed at Catskill Regional Medical Center, but the cause and manner of death are pending, according to The Associated Press

Prattsville man arrested for cashing stolen checks

The New York State Police at Catskill announced the arrest of a 55-year-old Prattsville man on Wednesday for cashing seven forged checks at a local supermarket.

Lila Rikard was charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument and grand larceny, both felonies. The arrest was made after police received a complaint that numerous stolen and forged checks were being cashed at a Great American supermarket on Route 23 in Prattsville, according to a New York State Police press release.

An investigation revealed Rikard cashed seven checks that were stolen from Eagle Redemption in Delaware County, the press release said.

Rikard was arraigned in the Town of Catskill Court and sent to Greene County Jail on $2,500 bail or $5,000 bond.

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