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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 20, 2006

Further charges pending
Wang is home after government admits mistake

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — Last month, Jun Wang was accused of "conspiring to defraud the United States" by selling military munitions to China. The government considered him a danger to the community.

This month, Wang is home, after a government mistake was acknowledged, and a federal judge eased the bond restrictions that were originally placed on him.

A microbiologist who grew up in China, Wang was indicted in March for shipping palm-sized reference systems made by Crossbow Technology Inc. to China. The technology was described by the government during the first detention hearings as a weapons-grade system.

On April 13, federal Magistrate Randolph F. Treece released Wang, allowing him to live in his Guilderland home, with conditions that he surrender his passport, report his whereabouts, and continue to post $250,000 for bond. He lives at 28 Westmere Terrace, with his wife, Yu Zhao, and their baby.

An April 12 letter to Treece from Thomas Capezza, the assistant United States attorney handling the prosecution, acknowledged "a significant change in circumstances" since the initial detention hearing.

While the government had initially contended that the Crossbow device, labeled AHRS400CC, was on the United States Munitions List, Capezza wrote to the judge, "On March 31, 2006, the government learned that the State Department reversed its prior determination and reclassified the AHRS400CC as dual use technology regulated by the Department of Commerce."

Capezza, who declined commenting to The Enterprise on the case, concedes in his letter that Wang can no longer be detained as a danger to the community but he asserts that Wang still poses a "serious risk of flight."

Capezza did tell The Enterprise that he will remain on the case and is working on new indictment charges.

Wang’s lawyer, Kevin Luibrand, said new charges could come at anytime, and most likely will happen on a Thursday.

"The government is going to do a new indictment where they will remove the more significant charges. They may decide to add other charges," which are less severe, said Luibrand. He also said, the government may try to say Wang made false statements to authorities, but that he will fight any such charges "every step of the way." Possible tax related charges may also arise, said Luibrand.

Luibrand told The Enterprise that the "overstated charges" were nothing more than an alleged failure to complete proper shipping forms.

"The week after the hearing, we pressed the government further," said Luidbrand, "They were not military-grade materials, they were commercial materials."

Luibrand says his client was wrongly portrayed as a weapons smuggler and that the case boils down to not filing the proper paperwork, which usually results in an administrative fine, not imprisonment.

Lost job

As a result of the arrest, Luibrand contends, Wang unfairly lost his job, which in turn affected his working-visa, and will, in all likelihood, affect his citizenship application. Wang has been in the United States since 1993, working on a visa as an "exceptional scientist," and applied for citizenship in 2001.

"It boils down to one thing: He lost his job," said Luibrand.

Wang worked as a research scientist for a not-for-profit firm, Health Research Incorporated, contracted through the New York State Department of Health. In the federal hearings last month, Wang’s employment status became a central issue to whether or not he would be considered a flight risk.

"Mr. Wang was a superb employee," said Magistrate Treece, summarizing testimony.

Michael Nazarko, Wang’s supervisor, testified, "Mr. Wang’s employment will be terminated," despite Wangs’s good track record. His employers cited excessive personal use of his computer at work as reason to fire him. One of the most visited websites on Wang’s computer was ESPN.com, a website with sports news.

Wang was not the only employee to use the website, Luibrand told The Enterprise earlier; several other employees were using the website and making bets on basketball teams, he said.

However, Capezza, in his April 12 letter to Treece, asserts in a footnote that Wang "was properly terminated because he used his work computer to search websites relating to the violations in this case"to transmit an End User Certification to a technology comapany, and he used his company name for billing and shipping technology to his home address."

"If someone is accused of something bad, it is what it is, an accusation," Luibrand told The Enterprise on Monday. "They fired him without suspending him."

Luibrand said Wang should have been suspended until the allegations were cleared up in court before they went ahead with a termination.

He also told The Enterprise that a representative from Wang’s work revealed that Wang was fired, not for looking at a sports website on his work computer at Health Research Incorporated, but because the allegations might affect their department’s grant money.

"He was an exploratory employee"He was one of the top microbiologists in his respected field, which is DNA," Luibrand said, adding that Wang’s research was reported in national and international publications.

On Wang’s behalf, the Civil Service Employee Association filed a grievance against his former employee on April 4.

At home

Wang made bail on the original charges one day after they came to light, according to his lawyer. But, once he learned he lost his job, he was taken into the custody of Immigration and Naturalizations Services. Wang was then held in Buffalo after Treece had deemed him a flight risk and a danger to the community.

According to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency’s detention standards, a single-occupant hold room must contain a minimum of 37 square feet, be well ventilated and well lit, have no moveable furniture, provide clean clothing, bedding, linens and towels, and be escape- and tamperproof. The United States detention standards also state all detainees must be provided with "nutritious, attractively presented meals, prepared in a sanitary manner."

Wang was held at the Buffalo detention camp nearly a month before his wife could drive to Buffalo and bring him home. She had to wait until Treece reversed his first ruling, deeming Wang not to be a danger to the community, and allowed him to go home with an electronic monitoring device.

Capezza has maintained throughout that Wang is a "serious flight risk" after losing his job and facing federal charges.

"His whereabouts do have to be accounted for," said Luibrand. He has maintained that Wang has a newborn child, is still trying to become a United States citizen, wants his job back, and has no plans on leaving the country.

Wang’s monitoring device is connected to a telephone, according to Luibrand, and Wang is allowed to move around his property normally and run errands as long as he continually checks in with authorities.

Wang politely declined comment to The Enterprise earlier this week, referring questions to his attorney.

GDP nabs fugitive in Operation Rolling Thunder

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — Police here apprehended at least seven fugitives convicted of felonies and misdemeanors while participating for the first time in a program the governor has dubbed "Operation Rolling Thunder."

For five days, beginning on March 21, a coalition of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies fanned out to look for fugitives.

Governor George E. Pataki announced the initiative during his 2005 State of the State Address.

"It was very successful," said Lt. Curtis Cox of the Guilderland Police Department.

Cox told The Enterprise that Chief James Murley called Operation Rolling Thunder "an effective tool" in capturing wanted criminals. The Guilderland Department dedicated three officers at various times throughout the duration of the program, Cox said. He also cited the pooling of resources as the key element to rounding up so many criminals.

The Guilderland Police Department plans on participating in Operation Rolling Thunder in the future.

"It puts together all aspects of systems"so that no stone is left unturned," said Cox.

Among those apprehended by the Guilderland Police and arrested at Town Hall during the operation were:

— Daniel J. Davidson, 21, of 336 South Pearl St., Albany, arrested on March 23 was wanted on a warrant from Guilderland for fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a misdemeanor;

— Cozetta J. Jackson, 19, of 89 Grant St., Albany, arrested on March 23 was wanted on warrants from Guilderland for petit larceny and false impersonation, both misdemeanors;

— Mathew R. Juk, 34, of 1112 McClellen St., Schenectady, arrested on March 23 was wanted on warrants from Guilderland for fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, both misdemeanors;

— Tishama Harewood, 23, of 185 South Pearl St., apartment A, Albany, arrested on March 23 was wanted on warrants from Guilderland for fifth-degree stolen property and petit larceny, both misdemeanors;

— Delcina C. Johnson, 23, of 64 Morris St., Albany, arrested on March 25 was wanted on warrants from Guilderland for fourth-degree possession of stolen property, second-degree forgery, both felonies, and petit larceny, a misdemeanor;

— Frank M. Thompson, 51, of 50 Delaware St., Albany, arrested on March 23 was wanted on warrants from Guilderland for fourth-degree grand larceny, a felony, and petit larceny and passing checks with insufficient funds, both misdemeanors;

— John M. Coons, 48, of 1817 Cassella Rd., Schenectady, arrested on March was wanted on warrants from Guilderland for resisting arrest, a misdemeanor.

Tunkel turns 104, Troutman turns 102

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND CENTER — A guitar and base set the rhythm Tuesday for a festive party at the Guilderland Center Nursing Home, as Dora Tunkel turned 104 and Edith Troutman got ready to celebrate her 102nd birthday this Friday.

Colorful balloons and streamers and masses of flowers filled the room as dozens of people joined together to honor both Tunkel and Troutman on their birthdays. The two parties were combined and held in the dining hall at the nursing home, where both ladies currently reside.

Tunkel, who was born on April 18, 1902, in Germany, owned and operated Bond’s Cleaners on Central Avenue in Albany for over 30 years, along with her late husband, Fritze.

Her son, Harold, described his mother as still being "the boss." He said they are from Schenectady. The Enterprise took Tunkel’s birthday photograph for her 100th birthday in 2002.

Troutman was born on April 21, 1904, in Albany and is of Dutch decent. She was married for over 60 years to her late husband, Herman, during which time they raised two children.

In Guilderland, five run for three seats

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Five candidates are vying for three seats on the Guilderland School Board. Only one incumbent, Richard Weisz, is in the race.

Two of his challengers — Hy Dubowsky and Denise Eisele — ran unsuccessfully last year in a six-way race for three seats.

The other two challengers are Timothy Forster and Raymond McQuade.

Candidates had to file their petitions by Monday. The election is May 16, at the same time voters will be deciding on a $79 million school budget for next year.

Two long-time board members, both leaders — President Gene Danese and Vice President Linda Bakst — are stepping down, leaving two vacancies.

This year, just one of the candidates is a woman; all of them have children who are students in the Guilderland schools or graduates of Guilderland High School.

None of them oppose the budget. Two are business owners, one is a nurse, one is a lawyer, and one works on economic development for the state.

The board has nine at-large unpaid members who each serve three-year terms. The top three vote-getters will take office in the beginning of July.

Hy Dubowsky

Hy Dubowsky is making a second run for school board because, he said, "I really want to help our district continue to provide excellent education for the kids."

He went on, "The best way to do this is to make smart budget choices. I have over 25 years’ experience working with budgets and maximizing in tight budget times. It’s essential to link dollars to program outcomes."

Dubowsky works for the state’s Department of Labor as the economic development director. He holds five academic degrees: a bachelor’s degree in political science from City University; a master’s degree in urban studies, also from City University; two master’s degrees from New York University — one in public administration and finance, and the other in philosophy; and a doctor of philosophy degree in finance, policy, and organization from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service.

In last year’s six-way race, he came in fifth, with 14 percent of the vote.

Asked his thoughts on the $79 million budget proposal, Dubowsky said, "We get what we pay for. I applaud efforts this year to make smart budget choices"We saved significant money but did not cut programs."

Next year, he suggested the district may be able to consider teaching foreign language in the elementary schools.

"I’m a parent of three kids," said Dubowsky. "You have to move programs forward. You have to look at the arts, enrichment, and foreign language at an early age."

Dubowsky chairs a committee that is considering alternative revenue sources for the district.

He concluded, "Guilderland offers an excellent education. That’s a fundamental value of my wife and I."

Dubosky’s wife, Carol Kaelin, a former Enterprise reporter, is now a partner in a news service. They have three children: Eric, a Guilderland High School and University of Rochester graduate who works now as a bond trader in New York City; Meg, a freshwoman, and Ryan, a junior, both at Guilderland High School.

The Dubowsky family lives on Highland Drive in Guilderland.

Denise Eisele

Denise Eisele said she is making her second run for school board "because, to me, it’s a natural extension of my involvement in the school district."

In last year’s six-way race, she came in fourth, with 17 percent of the vote.

"I really, really want to make it this time," she said. "I’m going to do much more campaigning door-to-door."

Eisele also said, "I think I’m well prepared to serve on the board of education."

Eisele, who has six children, has served as president of the PTA at Farnsworth Middle School and on the building cabinets at Westmere Elementary School and at Farnsworth. The cabinets are made up of parents, teachers, administrators and staff who help run the schools.

This year, Eisele served on the district’s alternative funding committee.

Asked her thoughts on the $79 million budget proposal, Eisele said, "I think the people involved worked really hard to contain spending. I believe in fiscal responsibility."

Eisele, who describes herself as a well-organized person, works part-time as a school nurse of the Early Childhood Education Center.

She is a graduate of Glens Falls High School and the Albany Medical Center School of Nursing.

"I’m an old-fashioned nurse," said Eisele, who is a registered nurse.

Eisele lives on Stafford’s Crossing, in North Bethlehem, with her husband, George, who is a physician. The couple has six adopted children: Stephan, 15; Jacob, 15; Meg 12; John, 11; Paul, 10; and Douglas, 9.

Timothy Forster

Timothy Forster, when asked why he was making his first run for school board, said, "I have six children and one on the way. My oldest is a graduate of Guilderland and at Oneonta now. The education here is fantastic. We’re really happy with the way the schools are educating our kids."

He went on, "I’m concerned that we not just maintain these standards but improve them...In the past I’ve said, ‘I wish somebody would do something.’"

So, said Forster, he decided to step up to the task.

Asked for his thoughts on the $79 million budget proposal for next year, Forster said, "That’s a huge budget....My concern is that the money gets spent where it needs to get spent."

He said, for example, that he thought $20 million was too much to spend for the recent renovation and expansion of Farnsworth Middle School. "We needed to put a cap on that," he said. "That’s too much; I voted against it."

He went on, "Money is being spent, maybe not frivolously, but without enough scrutiny."

On balance, though, Forster said he supports the $79 million plan. "It’s a desirable school district," he said. "That takes money...But the line items need to be looked at."

Forster’s father was in the military so, growing up, he said, his family moved frequently. He graduated from public high school in Georgia and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of West Georgia.

He now owns a public-information research company, Velocity Research and Corporate Services. "We do the behind-the-scenes research that lets our clients — lending institutions, mainly — put their finger on the pulse of businesses," he explained.

His wife, Laura, works for the state’s Office of Children and Family Services as a trainer, doing on-line distance programs, he said.

The couple has six children: Tabetha, 20, a student at the State University of New York College at Oneonta; Trevor, 16, and Valerie, 15, both sophomores at Guilderland High School; Travis, 13, an eighth-grader at Farnsworth Middle School; Rebekah, nine, a third-grader at Pine Bush Elementary School; and David, almost eight, a second-grader at Pine Bush.

The Forsters live off of West Lydius Street in Guilderland.

Raymond McQuade

Raymond McQuade served on the Citizens’ Budget Advisory Committee this year for the first time and said he learned that the current school board does not have "a lot of business experience."

Citizen volunteers spend a month reviewing the administration’s budget proposal and then make recommendations to the school board before it adopts its final plan.

"A number of members approached me," McQuade said about running for the board. He said he’d like to be "of some use" to administrators.

"I realized it would be hard for me to continue to criticize if I wasn’t willing to commit the time," McQuade said.

He believes his business background would be useful.

"The school district is a business," said McQuade. "Its business is educating children."

McQuade owns a technology company headquartered in Latham that sells "data-processing solutions" nation-wide, he said, explaining that he serves "a niche market," selling business software.

He holds two degrees from the University at Albany — a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s degree in computer science.

Asked for his thoughts on the $79 million budget proposal, McQuade said, "I’m not necessarily in favor of the raise, given the reassessment," a reference to the town-wide revaluation that the Guilderland undertook last year. This year, both Bethlehem and New Scotland — towns with pieces in the Guilderland School District — are undergoing revaluation.

McQuade went on to say that he is "realistic," given rising costs beyond the district’s control, such as for energy.

"Other districts are at eight, nine, ten percent," he said of budget increases. Guilderland’s spending plan for next year represents a 4.41-percent increase over this year, with an estimated tax-rate hike of 4.18 percent.

The solutions that would have reduced that increase were "not attractive," said McQuade.

"I will support the budget," he said, adding, "The district can do a better job on how it’s spending the money."

McQuade concluded, "I’m looking to find common solutions that will be good for the district and will benefit employees."

McQuade’s wife, Laura, works in data processing, he said. They have two children: Kathryn, a student at Guilderland High School, and James, a student at Farnsworth Middle School.

The McQuades have been Guilderland residents for 30 years and live on Woodlawn Drive, which is near the town hall.

Richard Weisz

Richard Weisz is running for a third term because, he said, "I believe in public education and I believe I have something to contribute to keep public education strong and effective in our community."

During his six years on the board, Weisz said, he has affected the district’s approach on the fund balance, using more of it to reduce the tax burden. He broached the idea of discussing state-wide changes in the retirement system for teachers, something Linda Bakst pursued with the New York State School Boards Association.

And, Weisz pointed out, he continually pushed for the district to consider alternative revenue sources — such as through a foundation or from commercial backing. A committee was formed this year to look at such funding and will report to the board this spring.

"I think I’ve helped at keeping the district a cohesive place for discussions," said Weisz.

Wiesz supports the $79 million budget for next year, which carries an estimated tax rate of $19.12 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for Guilderland residents. "I think our tax rate is below the middle for comparable districts," said Weisz. "The increase is less than the law allows."

The budget, he said, reflects the view that, "when appropriate, employment slots should be eliminated."

Weisz went on, "I’m disappointed we couldn’t have more programming for the international world of the future." This would include teaching foreign language in the elementary schools and additional courses in world affairs at the high school, he said. Still, the budget is a good balance, he said.

Weisz, a lawyer, is a partner in the Albany office of Hodgson Russ, LLP. He has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a law degree from Albany Law School.

He is married to Diane Rosenbaum-Weisz, who works for Parsons as director of the Child and Family Guidance Clinic. They live on Mohawk Trail.

They have two children, both graduates of Guilderland High School: Jessica Weisz is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, and Joshua Weisz is a freshman at the University of Maryland.

Judge says cop gets hearing

By Matt Cook

ALTAMONT — A judge has granted a hearing to a former Altamont Police officer who claims he’s entitled to back pay and reinstatement, dismissing the village’s argument that the officer, Marc Dorsey, got the job fraudulently.

Dorsey was suspended from his full-time post with the department in December of 2003, after stalking charges were filed against him in Albany. The charges were dropped in June of 2004, but Dorsey was never reinstated.

In November of 2005, Dorsey sued the village, asking for his job back and about $48,000 in back pay—full-time pay for two years. He also said he was entitled to a hearing according to section 75 of the state’s Civil Service Law, which says an employee with a competitive Civil Service job cannot by removed for disciplinary reasons without a hearing.

Last Thursday, New York Supreme Court Judge Joseph Teresi ordered Altamont to give Dorsey the hearing, but not the pay or the job.

"Respondents have not met their burden in establishing that [Dorsey] fraudulently obtained his appointment since they have not brought forth admissible evidence to establish this defense," Teresi wrote in his decision.

According to Altamont, Dorsey did not meet Civil Service requirements for the position, because he didn’t live in the village. The address Dorsey provided on his application was false, said Mayor James Gaughan, and therefore Dorsey is not entitled to any Civil Service proceedings, including the hearing.

On the recommendation of the attorney in the case, James Roemer, brother of the village attorney, Gaughan said, he will ask the village board to appeal Teresi’s decision to the state Court of Appeals.

"Why would I give [Dorsey] something that he doesn’t have rights to"" Gaughan said. "In my opinion, it’s a bad decision."

According to Albany County spokeswoman Kerry Battle, the village submitted to the department of Civil Service a signed affidavit from the landlord of 103 Severson Ave., where Dorsey claimed to have lived. The landlord said Dorsey never lived there.

Based on the affidavit, Battle said, Albany County Civil Service wrote a letter back to the village saying that Dorsey was ineligible to be a full-time police officer.

Roemer said he didn’t understand why the court ruled counter to Civil Service. He said that Dorsey has had his gun license revoked, so he can’t be a police officer anyway.

Dorsey’s lawyer, Stephen Coffey, did not return a request for comment and Dorsey himself could not be reached for comment this week.

Coffey told The Enterprise at the time the lawsuit was filed that it was understandable Dorsey was suspended when he was arrested but, when the charges were dropped, and Dorsey had a good record with the Altamont department, the village should have given him his job back. Coffey also said Dorsey should have been given a hearing about his suspension.

Gaughan told The Enterprise at that time, last November, that he agreed Dorsey had deserved a hearing then, but it was now too late. Dorsey was appointed as a full-time officer in September of 2002, Gaughan said in November, but he never worked full-time.

"It was a highly irregular appointment at the onset," he said.

Gaughan said this week that Dorsey was only using the Altamont Police Department as a stepping stone to a position in a larger department. Dorsey was appointed during the administrations of Mayor Paul DeSarbo and Commissioner of Public Safety Robert Coleman, both of whom are named in the lawsuit.

"He was trying to hoodwink the department and the village," DeSarbo told The Enterprise when the lawsuit was filed.

DeSarbo lost the last village election to Gaughan and Coleman was replaced in a department shake-up that brought in Albany cop Anthony Salerno to serve as commissioner.

Salerno told The Enterprise earlier that full-time officers must live in the village of Altamont while part-time officers can live anywhere.

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