Busch ticketed for trespassing, claims no fault

Deborah Busch at work during the Albany County Legislature's June session.

FORT ANN — Albany County Legislator Deborah Busch and her boyfriend, Rory Russell, were both ticketed on July 13 for trespassing on his neighbor’s property, though Busch says she was caught in a bitter dispute over dock modifications between the neighbors.

Busch and Russell were on property along Pilot Knob Road in the hamlet of Kattskill Bay when the owners, Carole and Thomas Bolen, saw them and called the police, according to Sergeant Daniel Symer of the State Police. Busch said they were only walking along a neighborhood path from Russell’s house to a neighbor’s. Their properties are along the shore of Lake George.

When the Bolens were pulling into their driveway, “their 15-year-old daughter stated there was someone by the front door,” said Symer, who was not the responding officer, describing what Carole Bolen reported.

Bolen told police she then saw Busch and Russell crouched down outside their kitchen window, said Symer.

“[Busch and Russell] jumped up and ran toward the residence and later stated they were just walking back toward a camp,” said Symer, describing the complaint.

“I do not substantiate anything that they said in that report,” Busch said Wednesday.

Busch, 51, a nurse manager from Berne, represents Rensselaerville, Westerlo, and parts of Knox and Berne in her first term as a county legislator.

“If anybody else were to do this in the town of Knox, in Berne, it’d be nothing,” Busch said of the media attention on a public official. “In the meantime, it’s probably all going to get dismissed.”

The Bolens’ property adjoins Russell’s, Busch said, and the lakefront properties have small lots crossed by a path used regularly by neighbors. She believes the Bolens were retaliating because of disputes with Russell before the Lake George Park Commission.

“It was around 4 o’clock in the afternoon,” Busch said of what happened. “We’re walking across the path. The neighbor was very angry at my boyfriend, sees us on this path because he’s driving down the driveway. He starts beeping his horn and he says, ‘You’re trespassing.’ So he calls the police and that was the story.”

Of the Bolens, she added, “I have nothing in my life to substantiate their anger toward me.”

Rory Russell, 57, is president and owner of Acquisitions and Funding Services, a business brokerage specializing in the security alarm industry.

He and Busch appeared before the Lake George Park Commission in October of 2013, applying for a wharf modification to install a boatlift on his dock, according to the commission’s meeting minutes.

Matthew Fuller, an attorney representing the Bolens, said his clients had the same issue with Russell in 2006, over his request, which was denied.

Russell, according to the minutes, said that the Bolens had accused him of backing his boat toward swimming children, which he denied, referring to Busch as a witness to attest to his safe boating.

After Busch spoke in support of Russell’s safety, the minutes say, “She also said that if there was a safety concern that day in the summer why didn’t the Bolen’s come out and let them know. It is unfair to accuse him of not being safe.”

After discussion during the 2013 meeting, in which the commission chairman said his dock was out of compliance, Russell suggested he resubmit his proposal, attaching the lift to the dock, but not giving up berthing rights.

The commission denied Russell’s 2013 application, by a vote of 4 to 6.

For the past several months, the neighbors have appeared before the commission over Russell’s application to install a sundeck and boat cover on his U-shaped dock, reflected in the commission’s meeting minutes. Fuller argued the proposed deck is too long and angled so as to make Russell’s boats dangerously close to the Bolens’ dock.

“I don’t see why people fight like that back and forth,” Busch said of the neighbors’ dispute, which she said had gone on for 30 years. “It’s unfortunate I’m following him on the path over.”

Trespassing is a non-criminal violation. “Non-finger-printable,” said Symer. “Same as a parking ticket.”

Busch and Russell are due to appear in Fort Ann Town Court on July 30.

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