Esslie-Frenia Law June 2023 Leaderboard

PETA offers $5K reward in dog abandonment case


CRARYVILLE—People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) offers a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction on cruelty charges of the person(s) responsible for abandoning a terminally ill dog on Route 23. The canine, a cane corso later named Barney, was spotted on the side of the road January 25 by a passerby, who initially believed that the dog’s leg was swollen due to being hit by a car. Barney was rushed to a veterinarian, who determined that he was suffering from advanced bone cancer, an extremely painful and irreversible condition, according to a PETA press release.

Barney, the cane corso, was deserted, suffering by the roadside. Photo by Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA

Investigators believe that Barney was abandoned by someone who knew about his condition but failed to seek medical attention or assistance. Because he was in so much pain, the decision was made to euthanize him.

No leads or suspects have been identified, so PETA asks for the public’s help.

“Rather than getting treatment for Barney’s agonizing condition, someone dumped this suffering, sick dog on the side of the road. PETA asks anyone with information to come forward immediately, as there may be more suffering animals in this person’s custody,” PETA Senior Vice President Colleen O’Brien said in the release.

Anyone with information related to the case should contact the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office at 518-828-0601.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”– offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, visit

Plan to engage in sex with a minor foiled

ALBANY—Martin Connearney, age 34, of Lenox, MA, pled guilty January 31 to traveling across state lines to Columbia County with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a minor. United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Craig L. Tremaroli, special agent in charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), made the announcement in a press release.

Mr. Connearney admitted that between April 6, 2022 and May 5, 2022, he communicated with an individual to discuss and plan his sexual abuse of a 10-year-old girl. Mr. Connearney and the individual ultimately devised a plan for him to travel from Lenox so he could engage in sexual contact with the 10-year-old. On the morning of May 5, 2022, Mr. Connearney drove from Lenox to a location in Columbia County, where he was encountered by law enforcement officials at a prearranged location and arrested.

Mr. Connearney is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Anne M. Nardacci, May 30. He faces a maximum term of 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, a term of supervised release of at least 5 years and up to life, and mandatory registration as a sex offender. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors. Mr. Connearney also agreed to forfeit the phone he used to commit the offense.

The FBI and its Child Exploitation Task Force investigated this case. The FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force includes members of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including the Colonie Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin S. Clark is prosecuting the case as part of Project Safe Childhood.

Launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood is led by United States Attorney’s offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS). Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood visit

$25M Volunteer Fire Services Capital Fund launched

GHENT–State Senator Michelle Hinchey (D-41st) has announced that the application portal is now open for the $25 million Volunteer Fire Infrastructure & Response Equipment Grant Program (V-FIRE), which she developed as part of the FY2024 State Budget. Volunteer fire departments across New York State can now apply for grant funding through the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) to support equipment and building upgrades. The program’s Request for Applications is available at

“New York’s first-ever Volunteer Fire Services Capital Fund is finally open—a huge win for our first responders and local taxpayers that I’m proud to have led the charge in creating. This new capital fund is not only an investment in the safety of our communities but also in the first responders who are always there to answer the call. It’s a privilege to champion support for New York’s volunteer firehouses, and I encourage all to take advantage of the funds available,” Senator Hinchey said in a press release.

“On behalf of our state’s 80,000 volunteer firefighters, I want to thank Senator Hinchey for her leadership on this important issue and also thank both houses of the Legislature and the governor for including $25 million in funding for this grant program in this year’s budget. Raising capital funds for vital long-lasting public safety items like fire apparatus, building improvements, and new fire stations is especially important to our rural fire departments. FASNY encourages all fire departments with a qualifying need to apply for one of these grants,” President of the Firefighters Association of the State of New York Edward Tase, Jr., said in the release.

Administered by the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the grant program supports volunteer fire departments by upgrading and improving facilities and response capabilities. Two funding options are available through the grant program:

*$20 million is available for construction, renovation, and/or facility purchase projects, including fire stations, substations, joint/shared stations, fire training towers, instructional classrooms and meeting spaces, exhaust systems, and shower facilities for decontamination. Eligible applicants can apply for up to $1,000,000

*$5 million is available for fire service equipment projects, including personal protective equipment (PPE), PPE washer/extractor, PPE dryers, radios/communications equipment, rehab equipment, and mask service unit/air compressors. Eligible applicants can apply for up to $500,000.

The application deadline is April 30 by 5 p.m.

In addition to handling traditional fire services, volunteer departments throughout New York State are taking on a growing range of responsibilities, such as mutual aid calls, EMS, vehicle accidents, and weather-related rescues. By boosting capital funding for volunteer fire services, New York can not only address the increasing demands on these departments but also contribute to a system that delivers substantial cost savings to taxpayers.

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