Afternoon News Brief
Written by Doug Thompson on August 11, 2022
A Batavia man accused of starting fires on three different occasions earlier this year, has now entered guilty pleas to counts of arson in County Court. 42-year-old Matthew Zakrzewski is likely to be sentenced to 10 years in state prison next month as part of the plea agreement he accepted. He was facing several other felonies — which have not yet been presented to a grand jury for possible indictment — and without the plea deal could have been sent to prison for up to 25 years. In court yesterday, Zakrzewski admitted to starting a fire at Washington Towers on January 16, and on the same date, setting a 2009 Jeep Patriot on fire. As part of the plea, Zakrzewski agreed to pay more than $10,000 in restitution to the arson victims.
The City of Batavia council has scheduled a public hearing for September 12th in the boardroom on the second floor of City Hall. Starting at 7pm, they welcome comments from the public regarding possible amendments to the city code, to include animal and fowl restrictions. City Manager Rachael Tabelski said at the present time, per code, there is no way to regulate any situation where there may be farm animals living in different areas. The proposed 2022 amendment to Section 190-42 of the code says, in part, that no person shall own, bring into, possess, keep, harbor or feed farm animals, including hoofed animals, equine or fowl within city limits (including, but not limited to, cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, swine, llamas, alpacas, ducks, turkey, geese, feral cats, ponies, donkeys, mules or any other farm or wild animal). The meeting on September 12th will provide the opportunity for public feedback prior to consideration of the law being adopted.
The National Transportation Safety Board has released a new report on the plane crash that killed attorney Steve Barnes and his niece Elizabeth Barnes. The pair was flying from New Hampshire to Buffalo in October 2020 when the small aircraft went down in Pembroke. Investigators say that Barnes was at the controls of the plane when it struck the ground and that he didn’t have any drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the accident. The cause of the tragedy still hasn’t been released. Barnes specialized in personal injury lawsuits, and late in 2020 was in the middle of a contentious split before two separate companies, Cellino Law and The Barnes Firm, ultimately emerged.
The suspect accused of murdering a member of the Rochester Police Department has made another court appearance. Yesterday, 21-year-old Kelvin Vickers was in court to be arraigned on multiple charges. Last month, Vickers allegedly shot Officer Anthony Mazurkiewicz and his partner, Officer Sino Seng while they were on a detail on Bauman Street. Mazurkiewicz died of his injuries but Seng survived. Vickers is still behind bars at the Monroe County Jail and is scheduled to face a judge again in November.
There’s a new law in New York State that aims to make sure students are being educated about the Holocaust. The legislation will require audits of schools to ensure they are in compliance with Holocaust curriculum requirements. Governor Hochul signed off on the measure yesterday after pointing to a study that showed a portion of young New York adults have a lack of knowledge of the Holocaust. She also noted there’s been hundreds of hate crimes committed against Jewish New Yorkers so far this year.
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection is sharing tips for college students to keep in mind before classes begin. The agency says they need to be aware of fake grants, scholarships, and loans and that the only paperwork required to file for financial aid is the free FAFSA form that’s online. Students should also keep an eye out for phony websites that claim to offer large discounts on textbooks, since those books often don’t get delivered which means the student loses their money. It’s also strongly recommended that students keep their personal information private so it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
Former President Donald Trump is pleading the fifth in a probe carried out by the New York Attorney General. He refused to answer questions at a deposition in New York City as part of a civil investigation into his business. In a statement, Trump said he once asked why people would plead the fifth if they’re innocent but says he now understands. The AG’s office is looking into whether the Trump Organization improperly reported real estate assets. On Monday, the FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in search of White House documents he allegedly took when leaving office.