Thursday News Brief

Written by on May 9, 2024

Sgt. Sanfratello

A Genesee County grand jury is indicting the man accused in the March death of Genesee County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Thomas Sanfratello. Thirty-three year-old Michael Elmore faces aggravated manslaughter of a police officer, criminally negligent homicide, assault, and burglary charges. Batavia police say Elmore caused the sergeant’s death when he fought with him at Batavia Downs and Sanfratello suffered an apparent heart attack. Elmore could get up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top charge.




28-year-old Megan Courtney of Batavia has been arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Following an investigation, it’s alleged that Courtney left a three year old home alone, with no adult present. The child was found running outside near the residence by himself. Courtney was later located at Batavia Downs. Following her arrest, Courtney was held at the Genesee County Jail awaiting CAP Court.


Governor Hochul (file photo)

Governor Hochul today launched a first-in-the-nation, voluntary climate action pilot program for New York hospitals to improve the health and safety of workers statewide. The plan provides premium credits of up to $1,000,000 to State-Insurance-funded hospitals that pledge to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and enhance resiliency to extreme weather events. This helps mitigate climate-related hazards, which contribute to steep increases in workplace injuries and illnesses. The U.S. healthcare industry is the leading emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting for over 8% of all national emissions.



Deborah Poprawski

A man whose wife was found dead from a gunshot wound last month at a home on Monroe-Orleans County Line Road has also died. Deputies from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office responded to the home just after 2:20 p.m. April 25 and found 71-year-old Deborah Poprawski dead. Her husband was found critically injured and was taken to a hospital. It’s now been reported that 72-year-old John Poprawski died last Friday from his injuries, though police haven’t shared more details on what may have caused his injuries or led to the shooting.




(Left to right) Frizelle, Billings, Galloway

Three teenagers in Wayne County face gun-related charges following a “lengthy” investigation. New York State Police executed search warrants earlier this week at three homes, uncovering multiple guns, gun parts and a 3D printer used to produce guns. 18-year-old Oakley Billings of Marion, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, criminal sale of a firearm, and sale of a ghost gun. 18-year-old Nicholas Frizelle of Williamson, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm. 18-year-old Colin Galloway, also of Williamson, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm. All three suspects were booked in Wayne County Jail. Frizelle and Galloway are still listed as being in custody, while Billings is out.


There’s a new warning from the medical community about COVID. Dr. Thomas Russo, a professor and chief of Infectious Disease at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine, detailed what steps you need to take concerning a new variant called “FLiRT” as we move into summer months. He expressed concern that many people believe COVID is behind us; however, that’s not the case. Russo says the new variant is not linked to more serious cases of COVID, but it may be more likely that we will catch the variant. Seniors, people with weakened immune systems, and people with existing conditions remain the most at risk for COVID. Russo summarized by saying that vaccines and masks still provide the best overall protection.


Rachael Alicea

A mother is being indicted after her 15-month-old allegedly died from fentanyl intoxication. According to the Erie County DA’s Office, 32-year-old Rachel Alicea exposed Theodore Alicea Smith to fentanyl in their home on William Street in Cheektowaga. Police responded to the home to find the child not breathing. He was taken to a hospital where he passed away. Alicea is being charged with manslaughter and could face a maximum of 15 years in prison if she’s convicted.



Preston Herbst, a 27-year-old convicted felon from Canandaigua, has admitted to a new charge related to trading child pornography using a Snapchat account. Herbst pleaded guilty to transferring obscene matter. This admission comes after he had already been sentenced to three years in prison for a separate child pornography offense but before he had surrendered to the Bureau of Prisons to begin his sentence. For this latest offense, Herbst faces the possibility of an additional five years in prison.


A 21-year-old man is dead after being hit by a car on Niagara Street in Buffalo on Wednesday. Police said a white Dodge Durango was going south when it hit the 21-year-old who was possibly on a skateboard. The driver continued traveling and hit a parked car then fled the scene on foot. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. One person is being questioned in connection to the incident and no charges have been announced.


Serdar Ozmen, the 40-year-old New York City man charged with kidnapping a 14-year-old girl from Brighton and holding her captive was arraigned yesterday afternoon in Monroe County Court on a five-count grand jury indictment. The arraignment came after multiple adjournments due to scheduling conflicts. Ozmen is also accused of restraining the teenager for more than 12 hours. Officers say he traveled to Brighton and took her back to the Bronx. Ozmen is charged with first-degree kidnapping as a sexually motivated felony. The other four charges involve sexual offenses. The district attorney’s office has filed a motion to compel a DNA sample from Ozmen. A one-year “no contact” order of protection has been granted for the teenage victim. Ozmen is currently being held in the Livingston County Jail with no bail.


The New York State Department of Health says the spread of the flu is no longer prevalent across the Empire State. As a result, the requirement that health care workers who aren’t vaccinated against the virus wear a mask to prevent the spread of the illness has been lifted. The latest data from the flu tracker shows there have been over 395,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the last several months. People who aren’t feeling well are still urged to stay home from work or school.



The Genesee County Health Department will offer a rabies immunization clinic one week from today. Make sure you mark next Thursday, May 16th on your calendar from 4pm until 7pm and plan to bring your fur baby to the Genesee County Fairgrounds. Vaccinations are free for dogs, cats, and ferrets, but voluntary donations are accepted. Animals must be at least three months old, and each animal must be leashed or crated and accompanied by an adult who can control the animal. There is a maximum; the limit is four pets per person. For more information, please call 344-2580.


Albert the Alligator

The 750-pound alligator that was seized from a homeowner in Hamburg in March has a new home in Texas. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said Albert the Alligator is being cared for at a place called Gator Country in Beaumont. The original owner, Tony Cavallaro, says he owned the alligator for more than 30 years before DEC officers showed up at his house and took the eleven-foot reptile. DEC said Cavallaro’s permit to own Albert expired in 2021.


Fans of the Rochester Americans who were hoping to secure tickets to tomorrow night’s playoff game are out of luck. That’s because seats to the contest between the Amerks and Crunch at Blue Cross Arena are sold out. These teams are tied at two games apiece in their AHL postseason series after Rochester rallied to win in overtime this past weekend. Face-off tomorrow night is set for 7:05.




Terrance Gray

The Boston Patriots continue to search for a new head football executive. According to CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated, former Arizona Cardinals vice president of player personnel Quentin Harris and current Buffalo Bills director of player personnel Terrance Gray declined to interview with the organization. The Pats interviewed Philadelphia Eagles director of scouting Brandon Hunt yesterday. Eliot Wolf remains the favorite to land the position, but the team must fulfill league requirements before making the hire.


Fish cooking on stove top

New research shows the smell of food cooking is a sign of air pollution. A new study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration measured what they called “underappreciated sources” of urban air pollution. Researchers wrote that if you can smell the food, “there’s a good chance it’s impacting air quality.” Overall, they found that cooking accounts for nearly a quarter of volatile organic compounds in the air. Those are human-made chemicals that are used in making paints and pharmaceuticals. Researchers are still looking at what these results mean for air quality, but the study’s lead author says having the data is the first step to making policy decisions.


Undated file photo of man obviously very happy with his purchase…

And speaking of smells…that new car smell could be toxic. A study out of Duke University and the Green Science Policy Institute found that the air inside some vehicles made since 2015 is polluted with flame retardants, some potentially neurotoxic or carcinogenic. The levels were higher in the summer compared with the winter months. The researchers recommend ventilating vehicles, particularly in the summer, and parking in the shade if possible.


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