Morning News Briefing
Written by Michael Baldwin on December 24, 2020
A Lake Effect Snow Warning is in effect for Genesee County from noon tomorrow until Saturday. Heavy lake effect snow expected. Lake snows will develop over southwest NY during the day and move north and intensify during the afternoon. Snow will be heaviest during the evening before lake bands move back toward the south on Saturday. Total snow accumulations of 7 to 17 inches in the most persistent lake snows. Lower accumulations of 3-7 inches are expected over eastern portions of Genesee and Wyoming counties. Winds gusting as high as 35 mph.
Batavia Funeral home owner Michael Tomaszewski, arrested in July after an investigation that uncovered multiple incidences of potential fraud, was arraigned in County Court on more than 200 counts of grand larceny, falsifying business records, offering a false instrument in filing, scheme to defraud, and failure to deposit. He entered a not guilty plea. Tomaszewski is accused of taking money people used to pre-pay for funerals and instead of depositing the money in appropriate bank accounts he used the money for other purposes. He remains released from custody on his own recognizance. His next scheduled court appearance is Feb. 2.
A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging 52-year-old Matthew Barber of Batavia with receipt and possession of child pornography. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 40 years. Prosecutors said that in April 2007, Barber was sentenced to serve 74 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release after being convicted of possession of child pornography. Then, in 2017, his term of supervised release was revoked after he was unsuccessfully discharged from a sex offender treatment program. Barber was re-sentenced to six months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release. And then…in May, New York State Parole notified United States Probation that Barber was terminated from his employment after a company representative observed him insert flash drives into a workplace computer, which he was not authorized to access. As a condition of his parole, he had to tell Parole if he was terminated from his employment. That same day, United States Probation and New York State Parole searched Barber’s home and seized a cell phone and a flash drive. A search of the flash drive allegedly recovered over 1,100 images and over 40 videos of child pornography. Several hundred images and over 200 videos of child pornography were also found on the cellular telephone. He was arraigned and detained.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that plans are currently under development to allow fans to attend the Buffalo Bills’ first home playoff game in more than two decades under strict COVID-19 protocols. Under the proposal, which is being developed cooperatively between the Bills and New York State, fans in attendance would be required to receive a negative COVID-19 test result before being allowed into the stadium. Contact tracing will also be conducted after the game. If implemented, this plan could serve as a model for reopening entertainment venues across New York.
Senator-elect Ed Rath has been appointed Ranking Member of the Elections Committee and the Local Government Committee. He said in a statement that he is looking forward to the start of the legislative year. Rath added that the pandemic has put a huge burden on local governments’ budgets and the services they provide and he is looking forward to working with local leaders across the district to address their specific needs and concerns.
50 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Genesee County. Health officials also report another COVID-related death. Orleans County reports 15 new positive cases and Wyoming County reports 26 new cases.