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Category Archives: Albany County Coroners Office

Riley’s Stats: A near record week.

Since Smalbany published the first article about Riley “Jeremiah” Kern, the young man who was killed in a tragic motorcycle-pickup truck accident on July 27, 2018, the coverage of our investigations into Travis D. Hagen, 48, of Coxsackie, NY, and the Coeymans Police Department, specifically their botched non-investigation and cover-up of the facts of the accident, we have forced Travis Hagen and Coeymnans Patrolman Ian FOARD and acting Coeymans Police Chief Daniel Contento into the headlights. Their reaction: Well Foard and Contento are like deer in your headlights; they don’t know which way to go. Travis Hagen has simply crawled back into the woodwork.

The bad news is the Foard, Conento, and Hagen are still free and walking the streets. No one is safe.

The good news is that Riley’s case has gotten near record attention and interest on an international scale.
We thought our readers would be interested in the stats so we’re sharing them soon.

Reader Figures Have Gone Thru the Ceiling!

The four articles getting all the attention at the expense of other important issues in the region are:

Those articles grew out of our interest and concern that a fatal accident on State Route 143 in Coeymans Hollow, practically on the Sycamore Country Club golf course grounds, received absolutely no media coverage and, when readers started asking Smalbany about the accident, Smalbany started asking questions. (See the footnote in our article, Three Articles on New Baltimore Scandals: Pick One or Read All.)

Riley was a local kid and attended RCS high-school until moving to Kansas with his mom and younger sister.. He had returned to New York, and was living with his father in Climax at the time of the accident. Riley was a very popular kid and had many loyal and loving friends in the RCS area. Riley was 19 when he died; his funeral was on his 20th birthday.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s open now!

When Riley’s mom contacted us and told us how so many obstacles were being put in her path, how many contradictions she was hearing, how the factoids didn’t seem to make any sense, we decided that she had gotten enough of a runaround and heard enough bullshit for one day. We know the area and the people involved, and we know their histories. We know what they are capable of and we knew that Riley’s mom didn’t deserve the treatment she was getting. She had just lost her son, and needed answers, not a runaround.

Hagen, Foard, Contento had opened a can of angry hungry worms and they were on the menu as of NOW!

(Image Credit: We gratefully acknowledge http://www.justoutsidetheboxcartoon.com for this very appropriate image. Please support their site and always give proper credit for images you may use.)

We’ll be publishing the updated statistics on Saturday, September 16, for the information of our readers. The interest shown is phenomenal. Now what we’d really like to see is all of our readers joining together in a show of support for Rye’s mom and his family. They are hurting in a number of ways and need our support. We’ll keep our readers informed in our updates and continuing coverage. Stay tuned!

Fact: Our posts are shared automatically on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook but those views are not counted here on WordPress. That means our numbers are even higher than our WordPress statcounter shows! On LinkedIn along almost 10,000 followers see our posts. On Facebook the figure might be tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions! We get the word out!

 

 

 

The Editor Chimes in on Riley’s Song: What have you become, America?

The Editor Responds: What have you become, America?

This is what we’ve become, fellow Americans. It’s nothing to be proud of unless you’re some sort of pervert[1], which most of you are; you like watching without revealing yourselves or speaking up. You like lurking and thinking no one knows your’re there. You like fake names, fake profiles, fake pictures. You like Facebook and fake friends. You like online porn and … well, I’ll stop there. Am I right? Well, now that we can agree on a starting point, here’s where you can give some thought to what you have become —
and whether there’s anything left worth redeeming.

  • On September 12, 2018, 1,464 people read the articlesRiley’s Song: Verse Two” and “Riley’s Mom Responds: A mother’s perspective.”
  • Since we posted “We are Reopening the Case” on September 7, 2018, to September, 13, 2018, we averaged almost 500 new readers a day with an average of almost 600 page views a day.
  • In the period from “We are Reopening the Case” (September 7, 2018) to “Riley’s Mom Responds: A mother’s perspective” (September 12, 2018) we had almost 5,000 new readers on Smalbany Blog.
  • We received a total of 18 comments of which 9 were from cranks with negative comments and 9 were from persons supporting Smalbany’s work on this one investigation.
  • Of the total of 18 comments, 6 were from a sicko calling him/herself “Smalbany is full of crap” using an email “smalbanyisfullofcrap@gmail.com.”  2 were from a weirdo calling him/herself “Douche” and using an email “dickhead@gmail.com ; ”  both of these dingleberries were trying to get a moment of cheap fame in their low lives by stealing from the real issue. The remaining negatives included 1 from a friend of Hagen’s (you can imagine what that one had to say).
  • The remaining 9 were from supporters: 1 from a close friend of Riley (JH), 5 from someone close to Riley, and a touching comment from Riley’s mom (which we published with her permission at “Riley’s Mom Responds: A Mother’s Perspective”). Two others were from a reader/commenter calling him/herself “Tompkins” and more concerned with the name of the road than with the subject matter of the article, and one kind “Keep up the good work” comment.

Do the math: That’s 0.0036% or 4/1000 or 1/250 meaning that only 1 out of every 250 readers got off their ass to make a comment one way or the other. As for the positive comments versus the negative comments, they were evenly divided 9:9. But only 0.0018 or 2/1000 or 1/500 = 1 out of every 500 readers left a comment pro or con.

We can’t believe that so many readers could have been so callous as not to even have left a condolence message for the family, or at least to have insulted Smalbany. Stated another way, we are at a loss that so few of the readers had the courage to have an opinion and share it!

We have to look at these figures and wonder whether Americans have become so dehumanized and so insensitive as not to have given a second thought to a terrible tragedy and a terrible injustice. Yes, readers, this is not only a terrible tragedy, the death of a young man just beginning his life, and a terrible tragedy for his family and friends, it’s a terrible stain on what we so facilely call a country of laws, a God-fearing people, a country founded on humane values, and a country that cherishes family values.

This tragedy is not just a personal tragedy nor is it a merely family tragedy, it’s a social tragedy, an American tragedy. Your responses tell us and everyone just simply viewing the Smalbany blog that Americans are all talk. This tragedy tells the world — Yes! The WORLD! These three articles have been read by people in Canada, France, Sweden, as far away as the Philippines and Dubai, and even in Texas! — this tragedy broadcasts to the entire world what hypocrites Americans are.

I wanna see the world with you
Come on and take me by the hand
Don’t even worry about it you’ll understand
I wanna see the world with you
The way you go out we follow
What’s better than us?
Better than us?
We don’t wanna to know

Riley’s Song[2]

Riley’s Song is a song about youth, love and future. It reminds us of the beauty of Riley “Jeremiah” Kern’s young life and saddens us that his has been cut short.

But our Riley’s Song is the tragic song of what America has become — or not become. Our Riley’s song is about injustice, incompetence, cronyism, cover-ups, infidelity, irresponsibility, lawlessness, favoritism. Our Riley’s song is about a society that has become so materialistic that it has lost all sense of morality and goodness but is so blind as not to even notice the weeping lesions all over its corrupt body.

Riley’s mom asked a question of one of our contributors just yesterday. It was a question about the Biblical prophet Jeremiah, so we had to pass it on to a theologian/clergyperson for a proper response. The fact that she asked the question had more to do with a completely different thought but sometimes things happen for inexplicable reasons. This is one of those things.

You see, she asked what we thought Jeremiah 22 meant. Jeremiah is one of the major Old Testament (First Covenant) prophets, a prophet who is revered as a major prophet by all three Abrahamic traditions: Christianity, Judaism — Jeremiah is so important that he has been made canon in Judaism—, and Islam. Not only is there a Book of Jeremiah, the Book of Lamentations is generally accepted as having been his work. Jeremiah is also known as the “Weeping Prophet,” because when you read his words describing and mourning the fall, capture and destruction of his beloved Jerusalem, and if you read Lamentations, you will hear Jeremiah’s anguish, and yes, tears, in his words. We even have an English word based on Jeremiah’s writings: “jeremiad,” a sad lamentation.

In his response, the Reverend explains:

Jeremiah sends a warning message:

“Doom to the one who builds palaces but bullies people, who makes a fine house but destroys lives, who cheats their workers and won’t pay them for their work, who says, ‘I’ll build me an elaborate mansion with spacious rooms and fancy windows and rare and expensive woods and the latest in interior decor.’” (Jer 22:13-14)

Woe, doom, to the one who takes wonderful care of themselves at the expense of others. Woe, doom, to the one who provides for their own luxuries or comfortable living at the expense of others who work for almost nothing.

We have become driven to get a good feeling without any effort — to make believe that everything is peachy.  Isn’t it right to try to get a good deal, to go where we can get the best deal for the lowest price? Isn’t it wonderful when we can cheat someone out of something and feel good about it, or get a new friend with a mouse click? We love to fool ourselves. When you get a compliment on that fake profile picture on Facebook, we often enjoy telling the story of what great bargain we are. Why is it, when we get something by cheating or screwing someone, we think we’re a smart? Why is it when we have so many virtual friends we actually think we are loved or liked? Is cheap and deceptive always better?

What if we would take a moment when purchasing an item to ask questions like “Why is this so cheap?” or when we accept a friend me invitation, ask, “I wonder who this person really is?.”

We, as a culture, are so absorbed in our consumption of things and entertainment, and even people that we ignore or forget what the actual cost is to ourselves, our own humanness, the rest of the world.  Think of this example, since we are a country that loves kids so much: Some countries are known to use and abuse child labor more than others, and those countries are big exporters to the USA, and Americans do love to get something cheap but they are less interested in knowing the history of the cheap; in other words, they suspend their condemnation of child abuse for a moment so they can enjoy their cheap.

We, as a society, find it very easy to suspend morality, values, ethics, humanity for cheap. But cheap is receiving the benefits without paying the cost involved.

This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. (Jer 22:3)

I hope that helps you to have at least a starter understanding of this great and sensitive prophet.

Somehow, the young man, Riley, picked up the nickname “Jeremiah,” and used it as his alter ego; it even appears on the cross, the roadside memorial, marking the place where he died. Now isn’t that something to think about?

Think of how this all began: In an article published on August 4, 2018, “Three Articles on New Baltimore Scandals: Pick One or Read All,” just days after Riley’s death, we added just a simple footnote. Just a footnote, asking the question:

Is this a cover up to protect a prominent Ravena family? Doesn’t the young man’s life mean anything or do we just sweep the whole thing under the carpet? We need to start asking questions. The 20-year old man is not just another raccoon, Mr Contento!”[3]

Putting all of this in a sort of perspective, most of our readers will recall a scandalous incident that occurred last March 2018, in the Village of Ravena, at Faith Plaza shopping mall. The incident involved two Coeymans police officers in two Coeymans Police Department vehicles harassing and running over a wild raccoon in full view of dozens of witnesses. The incident was videoed by a witness and appeared on Facebook and YouTube; it went viral and created an international uproar. Not only that, a petition was started called “Justice for raccoon killed by officers from Coeymans Police Department” which was signed by more than 110,000 people! The incident was addressed at the Coeymans Town Board Meeting on March 22 by no less than 5 angry citizens, some coming from as far away as Amsterdam, NY (about 50 miles from Ravena). The speakers were interviewed by local television and print media and the interviews broadcast on the evening news. The story was picked up by a large number of newspapers nationwide. It was a real scandal and it was about the inhumane treatment of an innocent wild animal.

Justice Demanded for a Raccoon. It’s a start.

Smalbany covered the story because it was just another nail in the Police Department’s coffin.

Perhaps we’re being unfair and perhaps we’re missing something. But if 110,000 people will come forward and sign an online petition and leave their comments demanding justice for a wild raccoon, and leave their comments expressing their outrage, what have we been missing in the Riley P. Kern case? Are we missing something or are we trying to avoid the perversion, the ugliness staring us directly in the face?

110,000 signatures, almost as many comments for a raccoon. Almost as many outraged comments. Coverage nationwide by numerous newspapers. Coverage by local print and television media with interviews. Outraged citizens appearing to make public statements at a public Town of Coeymans town board meeting on the record. What are we missing here?

We at Smalbany are not missing a thing, ladies and gentlemen. We are fully aware of what’s going on locally and in society. The real question is: “What are YOU missing?”

Perhaps this Smalbany blog, these articles on Riley, are in fact a jeremiad, bitterly lamenting the state of society and its morals in a serious tone of sustained invective, and even containing a prophecy of our society’s imminent downfall.

Perhaps the questions we are asking are going over your heads. Perhaps you are so far gone that you can’t even understand what we are pointing at and saying: “Wake up! This is a sickening state of affairs! Say, DO something!”

Riley Parker “Jeremiah” Kern is dead. Riley Parker “Jeremiah” Kern was a young human being, a young man, good, kind, handsome, talented, smart; he had a wonderful future ahead of him. Riley Parker “Jeremiah” Kern was killed under clearly suspicious circumstances in a freakish accident. Riley Parker “Jeremiah” Kern is crying out for justice, the justice that even a wild raccoon was able to obtain.

Riley Parker “Jeremiah” Kern has become a symbol full of meaning of what we are, have become, but can yet redeem as human beings.

Take responsibility.  Meet your obligations. Demand Justice.

 


[1] Gotcha! You probably read pervert and went off on a tangent. Well, that’s only because you never got a good education. But that’s the subject of another article. Here’s what a pervert is and how we are using it here: A pervert is someone who has detoured from or altered from their original course, purpose or intendment, their meaning, or state to a distortion or corruption of what was first intended. Human beings were allegedly intended or created to be divine images of Good and Justice. Now can you admit you’re a pervert?
[2] Riley’s Song, Featuring VACAY, Alex Zaichkowski & Shane Harte. Album Songs From The Next Step, Season 3, Volume 1.
[3] Mr. Contento is Sgt Daniel Contento, acting chief of police in the Town of Coeymans. When we refer to a raccoon we are referring to an incident that became an international scandal: Two Coeymans police vehicles harassed and killed a wild raccoon in a public parking lot in full view of dozens of witnesses. We covered the incident in our articles “We are speechless! OMG! Coeymans Police Caught on Video Again!” and “Follow-up Report: Coeymans Raccoon Incident. We still have our doubts!, “ and two other follow-up articles: “Truth be Told: On the Heels of the Coeymans Town Board Meeting” and “Officer Identified!!! Coeymans PD Steve Prokrym Involved in Raccoon Scandal!!!

 

Riley’s Song: Verse Two – Update on Our Investigations.

There are too many contradictions, gaps, inconsistencies in the Riley Kern case to allow anyone with any sense of decency or any trace of compassion to rest easy. While we can’t answer all questions in such a tragic event we can at least try to be honest and thorough in answering those that are answerable. We can at least meet our obligations to come forward and speak the truth. We can at least do our best to connect the dots and minimize doubt and with doubt mistrust. None of this has been done in Riley’s case, at least as far as our investigations and informants have shown. Here’s where we are as of today.

They’re gonna getcha!

Riley Kern was 19 at the time of the accident. Riley Kern’s funeral was on his 20th birthday. Riley Kern, although just before his death, was living with his mother and sister in Kansas, was a local boy. Riley Kern grew up in the RCS area and even attended Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk high school. Riley Kern’s father, Paul Gumpher, still lives in Climax, New York.

A group of local young people loved and respected Riley to such an extent that they got together and made the trip to Kansas to pay their respects and say a last farewell to Riley at his funeral. For all we have to say about today’s young people, that gesture of loyalty and love struck at even our heart chords. There’s no words to say that would do them the credit they deserve but Thank you! You really did Good!

We are asking Travis Hagen: If you have nothing to hide, nothing to fear, do you go into hiding?

A local man, Travis D Hagen, 48 years old, formerly of Ravena, New York, now residing in the Greene County hamlet of Coxsackie, just south of Ravena, has all but disappeared from the radar. Hagen didn’t have the decency even to express his condolences to Riley’s family at the death of their son, a death caused or at least contributed to by Hagen. Hagen is even avoiding the insurance investigators in the case. This raises the obvious question of: If you have nothing to hide, nothing to fear, do you go into hiding?

Why are you hiding?

Travis Hagen, 48, was driving a 2007 GMC pick-up truck on State Route 143 at the junction of County Route 106 (Tompkins Road) in front of the Sycamore Country Club. We might ask what Hagen was doing out there in the early evening hours of Friday, July 27, 2018, so far from Coxsackie on a sultry summer’s evening. There’s not a lot out there at that time of day except perhaps some friends and some brews. Informants share with us that Travis does like his brew. More on this later.

The Terry Hagen Golf Tournament benefiting the Lustgarten Foundation

Informants also tell us that there is an annual Terrry Hagen Golf Tournament held at the Sycamore County Club, and that the elder Hagen , now dead, was a popular denizen at the country club and an avid golfer. Dots are starting to connect, aren’t they?

Well, the Terry Hagen Memorial Golf Tourny was held at the Sycamore Country Club on August 18, 2018, so it’s reasonable to suggest that Travis Hagen was at the Sycamore Country Club taking care of “business” over a couple of brews, planning or finalizing details of the golf tourny. Sound reasonable to you? Why else would anyone be in that desolate area on a Friday evening? Now, an investigator would certainly have to question the staff at the Sycamore about Hagen’s being there that evening and what he was doing. Doncha think?

One person killed, NO accident reconstruction, and NO police photos taken.

Riley P. “Jeremiah” Kern

The NYS DMV Police Accident Report (MV-104A (6/04) shows the accident to have occurred on July 27, 2018, a Friday, at 6:22 p.m. One person killed, no accident reconstruction, and no police photos taken. That’s a bit irregular. Although our research with the National Weather Service shows that July 27, 2018, was generally sunny/partly cloudy with a high of 86 and a low of 67, there is no mention of weather conditions in the police report. Wouldn’t you think that would be important? Not according to Patrolman Ian Foard of the Coeymans Police Department, the “investigator” at the scene.

Back to the Police Report: In the Accident Description/Officer’s Notes section of the report, Riley’s vehicle is referred to as V1 and Hagen’s vehicle as V2, in the extract of the Police Report below, we are transcribing V1 to Riley and V2 as Hagen . Foard writes:

“Riley was traveling around a curve at high speed and Riley lost control of the vehicle and laid his motorcycle down.[1] Hagen was traveling Northbound [sic] on Route 143 and as Riley came around the curve it (V1 or V2? Riley or Hagen ?) traveled into the Northbound lane in front of Hagen.  Hagen swerved to avoid impact and struck Riley. Riley was ejected and struck the rear driver side of Hagen’s vehicle. Riley’s vehicle traveled under Hagen ’s causing damage to the undercarriage of Hagen s vehicle and eventually ending up behind Hagen ’s vehicle. Riley did pass away from crash-related injuries at Albany Medical Center.”

According to Patrolman Ian Foard, he was the last official to arrive at the accident scene after the EMTs arrived. So where did he get all of this information? Foard’s entry in the form is undated but the report shows that it was “reviewed by” Daniel Contento (acting Police Chief, Coeymans PD) on August 7, 2018, eleven (11) days after the accident, not including the day of the accident! eleven days later. The accident occurred at 6:22 p.m. on July 27, 2018. Riley died at Albany Medical Center shortly after 10 p.m.

Typical cop fashion: Cover me!

Only one “eye witness” is given in the report (we’re withholding that person’s name for now), who was allegedly mowing his “yard” according to Foard. Our visit to the scene would complicate that witness’ claim to having been an “eye witness” because the only property near the scene is to the South and the site of the accident would have been impaired by bushes. But the eye-witness named in the Police Report by Foard and claimed by Foard to have been “mowing his yard” at the time of the accident, is a big problem. You see, the so-called eye-witness lives on Alcove Road — and we are assuming that’s where his “yard” is —, some 4 miles distance from the accident site!

The one eye-witness was, according to Foard, “mowing his yard.” The problem is, his yard is 4 miles away from the accident site!

But that’s the least of the problems with Foard’s very late report. In fact, New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Article 22, § 605. Report required upon accident reads (in pertinent part):

“(a) 1. Every person operating a motor vehicle, except a police officer (as defined in subdivision thirty-four of section 1.20 of the criminal procedure law ), a correction officer, or a firefighter, operating a police department, a correction department, or fire department vehicle respectively while on duty, if a report has been filed by the owner of such vehicle, which is in any manner involved in an accident, anywhere within the boundaries of this state, in which any person is killed or injured, or in which damage to the property of any one person, including himself, in excess of one thousand dollars is sustained, shall within ten days after such accident, report the matter in writing to the commissioner.”

“2. Failure to report an accident as herein provided or failure to give correctly the information required of him by the commissioner in connection with such report shall be a misdemeanor and shall constitute a ground for suspension or revocation of the operator’s (or chauffeur’s) license or all certificates of registration for any motor vehicle, or of both, of the person failing to make such report as herein required.  In addition, the commissioner may temporarily suspend the driver’s license or permit or certificate of registration of the motor vehicle involved in the accident, or of both, of the person failing to report an accident within the period prescribed in paragraph one of this subdivision, until such report has been filed.  However, no suspension or a revocation shall be made of a license or certificate of registration of any police officer, correction officer, or firefighter involved in an accident while on duty for failure to report such accident within ten days thereof if a report has been filed by the owner of such vehicle.”

“(c) The report required by this section shall be made in such form and number as the commissioner may prescribe.”

The law is clear on the reporting requirement and the time for reporting. In fact, in the next section, it actually states at VTL § 606. Processing of required reports:

“The commissioner [the DMV], when processing reports of accidents filed pursuant to this article, shall give priority to reports involving serious physical injury (as defined in subdivision ten of section 10.00 of the penal law ) or death.”

The investigating officer, when making his report, is an agent of the Department of Motor Vehicles, that is, the “Commissioner” in the laws. Accordingly, if there is serious physical injury or death involved, the officer is to give “priority” to the report. But it took the Coeymans Police Department eleven (11) days just to get the report written and reviewed! No one is going to tell us that the Coeymans Police Department is that overworked and understaffed that it takes 11 days to fill out a form! Incompetence and indifference; criminal obstruction!

Not only is the police report late and in violation of the law, it is incomplete and inaccurate!

First of all, Patrolman Foard and Sgt Daniel Contento apparently can’t read or understand the clear labels on the form. For example, in the section “Vehicle Model” the form actually gives examples, such as “Mustang, Corvette” but Foard (Contento) insert “Motorcycle” for Vehicle 1 (V1, Riley) but “Sierra” for Vehicle 2 (V2, Hagen).

In the “Emergency Medical Services” the form requires times (in military notation; we are converting to conventional time notation here). EMS was  “Notified at 6:24” and “Arrived at the scene at 6:26 p.m.” The form shows that the EMS “Arrived (with Riley) at hospital” at 7:05 p.m. We don’t find those times to be believable.

First of all, any 911 calls go through the Albany County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center in Albany, who then take down the details and relay them to the appropriate First Responders. That alone should take several minutes. Then the First Responders have to get their acts together and get to the scene, which will take another several minutes, at least. But the accident, according to the report happened at 6:22 p.m. If we are to believe the accident report, the accident was reported after the accident occurred, naturally, that is, after 6:22 p.m., the 911 dispatcher contacted the local EMS, who then got all their information and gear, and personnel together and got to the scene at 6:26. That’s in less than 4 minutes!!! Do you believe that?

That raises yet another question: How long did it take anyone to make the 911 call once the accident occurred?

But it took them about 45 minutes to get the dying boy to Albany Medical Center! And that’s assuming the ambulance arrived at the very same moment as the EMS, which is unlikely because they were also busy trying to decide whether to medevac (Lifeline) Riley to the hospital, a decision that fell through the cracks due to “thunderstorms” in the area (Thunderstorms? No mention of these in the National Weather Service reports. Rain, maybe, but no thunderstorms in Albany County on July 27, 2018).

Back to the report: Patrolman Foard writes that the first point of impact on Riley’s motorcycle was at point 11, the left door. We weren’t aware that motorcycles, much less Riley’s bike, had left doors but maybe Patrolman Foard and Sgt Contento know more about this than we do.

Besides, if you are filling out a form, you’d indicate everything you need to indicate, wouldn’t you? It’s all done half-assed, as usual in Coeymans! We’ve always said, ”You pay peanuts, you get monkeys!”

And then you put them in uniforms and hand them guns.


Editor’s Note: New Law in New York: Serious Accidents to Trigger Mandatory Sobriety Tests in New York. The new law expands the responsibilities of police officers who are first responders to the scene of a motor vehicle accident if the collision either caused a serious injury or caused a death. Now, among the responsibilities that police have as they investigate the cause of the accident is a responsibility to assess whether the driver was in violation of state traffic law or not. Under the previous rules related to field sobriety testing, the laws in New York stipulated that it was up to the discretion of the officer to determine if a person should be tested for impairment. The new rule simplifies and streamlines the system and ensures that drivers don’t simple evade the law when a death or a serious injury happens.

According to New York State Senator Pamela Helming, who was one of the bill’s sponsors, indicated that” “Individuals need to be held accountable for their choices, especially when it leads to the death or serious injury of someone else.” Helming also warned: “Eliminating loopholes in the current law that allow drivers under the influence to escape prosecution at the expense of someone else’s life is a start.” With new evidence available to demonstrate intoxication after serious accidents, victims should be better able to pursue claims for compensation against those who caused collisions while drunk. A New York City car accident law firm can provide help to victims in taking action.

The bill was signed into law on December 18, 2017, and went into effect 30 days after signing.


Seems both Foard and the Sycamore Country Club have no clue where they are.

The accident happened on State Route 143 40 ft South of what Foard calls Tompkins Road. The roadway Foard is referring to, apparently, is County Route 106. Tompkins Road is not the roadway’s DOT real designation but is the street name used by locals and the Sycamore Country Club in its address, but then the Sycamore Country Club is located in the hamlet of Coeymans Hollow, not in Ravena! Seems both Foard and the Sycamore Country Club have no clue where they are. Foard can almost be forgiven, being from Mechanicville and given his history (see below, Editor’s Aside].

Annotated Police Report Sketch

The narrative text also states that Riley was “traveling around a curve at high speed.” How does anyone know that as a fact. Foard himself admits that he was the last to arrive on the scene, after the EMS. The eye witness named in the Police Report was “mowing his yard” and lives on Alcove Road. OK. Maybe Foard can explain how a guy mowing his lawn 4 miles away could see the accident? That guy must have one hell of a set of eyes! Or has Foard left something out? What’s your guess?

In the narrative (text) description of the accident, Foard notes that Hagen’s truck sustained “damage to the undercarriage of Hagen’s vehicle” but Foard does not indicate that damage in the diagram! This raises the question of whether Foard was able to crawl under Hagen’s vehicle to inspect it and on what grounds Foard determined the damage to be caused at the time of the accident. We don’t think that a part-time patrolman has that expertise. Do you?

Foard makes an interesting commitment as to the sequence of the events: He writes that Riley “laid his motorcycle down” indicating that Riley was actually in control of his vehicle and took the emergency measure of putting the cycle into a skid to avoid the accident. This in no way would indicate that Riley “lost control of the vehicle” as Foard speculates in his narrative. Foard was not there and given the situation, it’s unlikely that any witness would be able to state with certainly that Riley lost control of his motorcycle.

Foard then writes that Hagen “swerved to avoid impact and struck Riley.” This is the black letter written narrative that likely went through some editing and, if anything had to be changed before or after Contento “reviewed” and passed the report, that something would have been changed. As it now reads, Hagen struck Riley, not the other way around!

In this narrative the sequence continues: Riley was “ejected and struck the rear driver side” of Hagen’s vehicle. According to the damage diagram in the Police Report, Foard indicates in the Damage Codes for Riley’s vehicle: Point of impact 11 (left, driver side door), “Most Damage”: 8 (rear of vehicle), and Foard enters three other damage codes: 14, undercarriage; 5, passenger side door (or right side of vehicle), and 11, driver side door (or left side of vehicle).

Foard indicates Damage Codes for Hagen’s vehicle:  : “Point of impact 1” (left, front headlight/fender), “Most Damage: 8” (rear of vehicle), and Foard enters three other damage codes: “1”, (left, front headlight/fender); “”10”, driver side door (or right side of vehicle), and “12, driver side front panel (or left front side of vehicle). But this doesn’t seem right because the pictures taken by an EMS person do not show Driver-side damage at all!

Nothing in Foard’s report seems to agree. And it was reviewed by acting police chief Sgt Contento, and released to the Department of Motor Vehicles! How embarassing!

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(Photo Credits: Thomas Marra)

When asked about this, the EMS photographer/journalist explained that the only damage he documented was on the passenger door side, a dent, probably from impact (how else would you get a dent like that shown in the image?) When questioned further, the EMS photographer/journalist explained that if there were no damage he would not have photographed it; there was not damage on the left side, the driver’s side, of Hagen’s vehicle, according to this EMS photographer/journalist.

So this information, along with Foard’s statements in the Police Report actually damage any credibility of the Coeymans Police investigation, if there were any investigation at all, and contradict or rule out most of what Foard writes in his report!

Here’s some other information that creams Foard’s report. The manufacturer’s specs for the 2007 GMC Sierra driven by Hagen give a front ground clearance of 9.1 inches. The rear ground clearance for this vehicle is 12.1 inches, or an average of 10.6 inches along the length of the vehicle.

The 2008 Buel motorcycle driven by Riley has a width of about 29” and a length of about 78 inches. Given the condition of the motorcycle as shown in the pictures taken at the accident scene, and given Foard’s report saying that Riley’s motorcycle “struck the rear driver side” of Hagen’s pickup truck” and then “traveled under Hagen’s vehicle[,] causing damage to the undercarriage of Hagen’s vehicle[,] and eventuallyending up behind Hagen’s vehicle.” Given the specs of the two vehicles, you think the cycle would have been a mangled mess. It wasn’t — at least not until Burn’s Towing got their hands on it. (Click the link to view the insurance investigator’s photos.)

Insurance Investigator’s Photos

True to local scoundrel form, Burns + Sons Auto Repair & AAA Towing in Ravena (2537 US 9W Ravena, NY 12143 ) didn’t waste a minute getting their hands into Riley’s family’s pockets. We have learned that Burns charged the family more than $1800 ($300 for “towing” the motorcycle and $65/day for storage)! Good Lord! The cycle weighs only about 350 lbs and two men could lift it onto a pickup bed! Thank you! Burns & Sons Towing (Ravena) for confirming everything we have ever had to say about local crooks!

There’s more, much more but we won’t share it until we confirm and vet it. Stay tuned!

This is one of a long series of botched investigations that have become the hallmark of the Coeymans Police Department. It’s not only that they are incompetent and too arrogant to call in real professionals from the Albany County Sheriff’s Department or the New York State Police, their incompetence and arrogance has and is continuing to cause good people a lot of unnecessary suffering. On top of all that, we as taxpayers are paying for this incompetence and abuse! How stupid can it possibly get?!?


Editor’s Aside — Some Notes on Coeymans Patrolman Ian FOARD

It appears part-time Coeymans patrolman Ian FOARD comes to Coeymans from the Mechanicville PD, and he brings a bit of baggage with him.

At the regular meeting of the Mechanicville City Council on Wednesday, February 5, 2014. Mayor Baker and the Mechanicville City Council appointed Ian Foard to the position of full-time desk-officer at a rate of $13.47/h (Resolution #20-14)

According to the official minutes of the Coeymans Town Board Meeting of March 22, 2018 Mr. Foard was appointed to the position of Probationary Part-Time Police Officer effective March 26, 2018. Foard’s appointment was contingent upon Foard’s signing a personal services contract with the Town of Coeymans and his paperwork being filed with the Human Resource Clerk. According to the minutes, Foard would be compensated at the rate designated in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. (Resolution #063-18). At that same meeting, Sgt Daniel Contento was appointed acting Police Chief (Resolution #062-18).

The Albany Times Union reported on January 25, 2018, that Ian Foard was one of five Mechanicville police department employees who filed a multiple-charge complaint with the Mechanicville Human Resources Officer alleging multiple abuses by Mechanicville Mayor Baker. Foard alleges in the complaint that when Foard was dealing with a personal family matter, Mayor Baker allegedly told Ian Foard, that his father is “disgusting, weird” because he is transgender. Baker allegedly told Foard “every mistake you’ve made was because of your dad.”

The 5-page complaint was filed with the Commissioner of Accounts Kimberly Dunn who acts as the city’s human resource officer and city clerk. It was signed by Police Benevolent Association officers President Alexander Dunn, Vice President Matthew Dunn, Foard, the bargaining unit’s treasurer, and Rabbitt, the union’s secretary. Both Alexander Dunn and Matthew Dunn are the City Clerk’s, Kimberly Dunn’s sons; the rumor is that the Dunn boys were put up to the complaint by momma Dunn, who has her eye on the mayor’s office.

Later, on July 12, 2018, the Albany Times Union reports that the charges against Mayor Baker were dropped, and that Mechanicville Police Chief Police Chief Joseph Waldron “retired,” “retired” usually used to pretty up the fact of “resigned.”

Ian Foard subsequently resigned or was terminated from employment with the City of Mechanicville Police Department and was later hired as a part-time patrolman by the Town of Coeymans.

We have requested information from the City of Mechanicville relating to FOARD’s termination or separation.

See the extract from the complaint filed by FOARD and others, below.

This is an extract from the official complaint.


This is not an isolated incident with the Cold-Case Coeymans Police Department. We’ve been covering stories on a regular basis. Here are just a few of the most recent articles we’ve run about the a dysfunctional law enforcement mistake:

Dumbass Team: Coeymans Police and Albany DA Soares!
More on the Coeymans Police Department. Our Recent Investigations.
We are speechless! OMG! Coeymans Police Caught on Video Again!
Coeymans Police Turning Into Coeymans Gestapo Again?
Criminals Thumbing Their Noses to Law Enforcement? Why?
Local Law Enforcement Might Need Some Help with the Math: 2 + 2 = Stahlman!
Drive-by Shooting Arrives in RCS

We’re in control, Rye!
We won’t let you down.

Click this link to read Riley’s mom’s response to detractors of SmalbanyRiley’s Mom Responds: A Mother’s Perspective.


[1] Motorcycle accidents involving a laydown by the operator of the motorcycle means that when the motorcyclist experiences a sudden emergency and he decides to lay down the bike rather than collide with another object. Because of the suddenness of the hazard, the rider applies the brakes and the bike slides on its side.

 
13 Comments

Posted by on September 11, 2018 in 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 46th District, 46th Senate District, Accountability, Acting Police Chief, Albany, Albany County Civil Service, Albany County Coroner, Albany County Coroners Office, Albany County District Attorney, Albany County EMT, Albany County Sheriff Department, Albany Medical Center, Barbara Underwood, Burns and Sons Towing, Capital District, Civil Right Violation, Civil Rights, Coeymans, Coeymans Acting Police Chief, Coeymans Police Department, Columbia-Greene Media, Corruption, Craig D. Apple Sr., Daily Mail, Daniel Contento, David Soares, Death, Death Certificate, Death Investigation, Department of Motor Vehicles, DOT, Ellis Hospital, EMR, F.O.I.L., FaceBook, FOIL, Geico Insurance, Governor Mario Cuomo, Hudson Valley, Ian Foard, Informants, Insurance Fraud, Investigation, John B. Johnson, Lafarge, Lafarge-Holcim, Law Enforcement, Lawsuit, Mark Vinciguerra, Misconduct, Misdemeanor, Misdemeanor, Motor Vehicle Accident, Motorcycle, New York, New York State, New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Police, New York State Police, NYS Assembly, NYS Comptroller Audit, NYS Senate, Obstruction of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Comptroller, Paul Courcelle, Paul Gumpher, Phil Crandall, Police Dispatcher, Police Incompetence, Police Investigator, Public Corruption, Public Safety, Public Safety, Ravena News Herald, Riley Kern, Riley P. Kern, Senate District 46, Smalbany, The Daily Mail, Times Union, Travis D Hagen, Travis Hagen

 

We Are Re-Opening the Case: Riley Kern, Young Man Killed in Coeymans Hollow, Sycamore Golf Course

Just when they thought they got away with it!

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The Facts are Pointing to a
COVER UP!!!

As you may recall, we wrote in a July article, “Three Articles on New Baltimore Scandals: Pick One or Read All,”, asking “Did you know?” about the case of a young man who was involved in a fatal motorcycle-pickup truck accident in Coeymans Hollow. We wrote:

Editor’s Sidebar: Town of Coeymans. We’ve received reports of a fatal pick-up truck — motorcycle accident that occurred during the evening hours of Saturday, July 28, 2018, on Route 143 in the Town of Coeymans. The operator of the motorcycle, a 20-year old man was killed; the operator of the pick-up truck was allegedly Ravena resident Travis Hagen. Strangely nothing has appeared in the local media about the accident. We have contacted the Coeymans Police for confirmation facts but have not received a response. A reader has informed us that he, too contacted the Coeymans Police acting chief, Daniel Contento, and was told only that there was an accident and the police investigated and reported it to the DMV. Is this a cover up to protect a prominent Ravena family? Doesn’t the young man’s life mean anything or do we just sweep the whole thing under the carpet? We need to start asking questions. The 20-year old man is not just another raccoon, Mr Contento!

This is Riley and a Companion.

Read more about Riley at
Ryan Parker Kern  August 4, 1998 – July 27, 2018 
and leave a note of support and condolence for his family and friends.

At the time, we were suspicious that the accident didn’t get a single word of coverage on any media, and we asked Why?

Since we published that very small bit of information, we’ve received contacts from people who have read the inconspicuous item and have contacted us with a huge amount of information and many, many questions.

In the meantime, we have received some information on Travis Hagen that points to a cover-up in the case of the young man’s death. At the very minimum, a number of people involved in the investigation of the accident and reporting the so-called “facts” are going to have to answer a lot of very unpleasant questions very soon!

Travis Hagen, 48, of Coxsackie. Driver of the pick-up truck.

There are still people in this community who think they are above the law

We are now re-opening the case and will be publishing the information as it’s verified for you, our reading public, to be sickened and outraged by what’s going on in the RCS community and what’s going on in the Coeymans Police Department. There are still people in this community who think they are above the law and can get away with trying to hide a crime. We’re here to make certain the truth gets out and they are brought to justice.

Click this link to read Riley’s mom’s response to detractors of SmalbanyRiley’s Mom Responds: A Mother’s Perspective.

Unconfirmed witness reports indicate that there are inconsistencies in the Police Incident Report. Is there a possibility that the driver of the pick-up truck was … !

 

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on September 7, 2018 in 19th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, Accident, Acting Police Chief, Albany County Coroner, Albany County Coroners Office, Albany County District Attorney, Albany County EMT, Albany County Sheriff Department, Albany Medical Center, Barbara Underwood, Capital District, Chaplain Services, Civil Right Violation, Civil Rights, Civil Rights, Coeymans, Coeymans Acting Police Chief, Coeymans Police Department, Collusion, Columbia-Greene Media, Conspiracy, Corrupt Police, Corruption, D. W. Contento, Daily Mail, Daniel Contento, David Soares, Death, Death Certificate, Death Investigation, Department of Motor Vehicles, DOT, DOT, Driving under the Influence, Electronic Death Registration System, Ellis Hospital, Emily Kern, Evil, Geico Insurance, Greene County News, Hearst Corporation, Ian Foard, Immorality, Investigation, John B. Johnson, Johnson Newspaper Group, Law Enforcement, Lawsuit, Mark Vinciguerra, Misconduct, Monitoring, Morality, Motor Vehicle Accident, Motorcycle, New York, New York State, New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Police, New York State Police, News Channel 10, News Channel 13, News Channel 6, News Herald, Notice of Claim, NYS Assembly, NYS Comptroller Audit, NYS Senate, Obstruction of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Comptroller, Paul Gumpher, Perp Patrol, Phil Crandall, Phillip Crandall, Police Incompetence, Professional Ethics, Professional Misconduct, Public Corruption, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk Central School District, Ravena News Herald, Riley Kern, Riley P. Kern, Rye, Stephen Prokrym, Steve Prokrym, Suffering, Sycamore Country Club, Thanatology Café, The Daily Mail, Thomas Marra, Times Union, Times Union Blogs, Town of Coeymans, Travis Hagen, Uncategorized

 

A Response to Lorin Marra. re: Office of the Albany County Coroners

We published an article “Politics, Power, Patronage and Conflicts of Interest: The Albany County Coroners Office” on September 13, 2017, about the office of the Albany County Coroners, and how the office is obsolete, tainted, and chock full of local funeral directors. The politics of the coroners’ office is as corrupt as it can get, and is a product of the nepotism and favoritism that has plagued Albany politics from within the mayor’s office to the police department to the office of the county coroner.


In the preparation phase of the article, we did extensive research both on the history of the office of coroner in general, including scholarly articles discussing the office of the coroner, and published professional journal articles comparing and critiquing the office of the coroner and the office of medical director. In addition to our research of public information and education material and the scholarly and professional journals, we also filed demands for the production of documents and information with Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer and Green Counties for information on their respective coroners or medical examiners.

Seal of the County of Albany, NY

Overall, personal contacts with the Albany County Office of the Coroner were very open and informative. The demands served on the counties of Schenectady (medical examiner), Rensselaer (medical examiner), and Greene (coroners) under the NYS Freedom of Information Law were less than open and honest. Rensselaer is in violation of the law by not having responded at all; Schenectady and Greene county, while responding, were evasive and off base. Why all the defensiveness? They’re not so defensive when asking for funding but then, in our culture of death denial, who really keeps tabs on them anyway? WE DO!

We received an interesting comment from Lorin Marra, who is somehow associated with the Marra Funeral Home and with Paul Marra, the “owner/operator” of Mara Funeral home in Cohoes and an Albany County Coroner. When we received Lorin’s comment we were a bit taken by its defensiveness and it only later occurred to us that it’s an election year and Paul Marra is running for re-election as an Albany County Coroner. Having made that connection, it was not surprising that a Marra family member would come out and defend Paul Marra, the candidate.

But wasn’t it a bit cowardly, a clear lack of integrity for someone running for public office not to personally respond in a comment and have his daughter respond for him. Maybe Paul left his cojones in the autopsy room, at one of the allegedly “1000” autopsies he claims to have attended (but no one in official circles knows about). Did anyone see that pig flying by just now? Wanna buy a bridge?

According to Lorin Marra, pigs really do have wings!

.It should be noted that Ms Lorin Marra doesn’t comment on any of the many facts and figures given in the “Politics, Power, Patronage and Conflicts of Interest” article but hones in only on the name “Marra,” which is mentioned in only the most neutral of terms: strictly factually. But, as we state in our response, “Where there’s smoke (or “defensiveness”) there’s gotta be fire.” What do you think?

Marra’s Campaign Sign
flanking those of opponents Simmons and Lockridge.

For those of you who have read our article “Politics, Power, Patronage and Conflicts of Interest: The Albany County Coroners Office,” you’ll certainly have to ask yourself Why? is Lorin Marra so upset. Have we touched a nerve? The fact is, Paul Marra is barely mentioned in the article, and not negatively in any sense of the word. Maybe one of our readers can help us out with this one. We’re republishing Lorin Marra’s confused comment together with our responses. [In the following text “Ed.”: is a note inserted by the Editor]


In reply to Lorin Marra:

We have approved your rant only to illustrate the fact that where a commenter becomes as defensive as you have, there must be something going on that needs further attention. As the saying goes: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

We’d like to make it quite clear from the outset that the article is not about Paul Marra nor about the Marra Funeral Home operation; the article is about the office of the coroner both in Albany County and in general. Mr Marra is mentioned, along with others, in the article because he has voluntarily stepped forward and has received the approval and support of the Albany county Democrats and their political machine to have been elected to be an Albany County Coroner. Mr Marra, his office, his associations, and his keepers, therefore, have made Mr Marra a public figure and that visibility is open to comment. Mr Marra, his interests, his associations, his performance and all other aspects of Mr Marra are subject to comment because of his status as a public figure. Period.

Lorin Marra writes:

This article is completely false…

We Responded:

That having been said, we can respond to your diatribe by saying that the information we provided in the article came either from official sources and based on what those sources, that is, the Office of the Albany County Coroner, provided in response to our demand for documents and information under the NY Public Officers Law. If any of our information were incorrect, it is because it was provided by the custodians of that information as public officers and public employees. So let’s put that part of your comment to rest and redirect your misdirected hissy fit to the proper target: the County of Albany.

You are terribly clouded in your perspective of reality if you represent, as you in fact write in your comment, which, as written is a bit unclear, “[M]ost coroners are in fact funeral directors nor [sic] for a political agenda but…” (the rest of that sentence does not contribute to a better understanding of your rather strained thought process). We do not propose in any way that funeral directors are funeral directors for a political agenda. Where you pulled that one out of is beyond us but if you take the time to actually read the article with your eyes open, you’ll actually see what we’ve written. To deny, particularly in Albany County, that the office of the County Coroner is politically tainted is tantamount to claiming that a 3-dollar bank note is legal currency in the US. How naïve? can you possibly be or How devious? might be a better question.

Lorin Marra writes:

…a coroner does not get paid enough by the state [Ed.: Paul L Marra is an Albany County official but is civil service, and gets his check from NY state. Currently he gets $$20,836 a year.] to actually make a living off of just being a coroner. Most coroners are in fact funeral directors not for a political agenda but because they have the knowledge and experience dealing with the deceased. Marra funeral home is in fact OWNED by Paul Marra.

We Responded:

We don’t give a whit whether Paul Marra “OWNS” (your caps!) Marra Funeral Home. But that confirmation by you certainly bolsters our statements about conflicts of interest.

Lorin Marra writes:

Coroners are NOT allowed to use their position to gain business in their personal funeral homes [Ed.: “Not allowed…” is true; what you seem to glance over is that they DO abuse their positions! It’s a human weakness.] Do you realize how many calls a coroner must go on during their respective shift? If they actually claimed all those funerals [Ed.: They don’t have to claim “all” the funerals, just some.] they would be a multi-millionaire which is not the case for any coroners [Ed.: But may be true for some funeral directors.]. The funeral home business tends to be a hereditary business, most people do not wake up in the morning and decide HEY I’M GOING TO WORK WITH DEAD PEOPLE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, they [Who do?] tend to go into the business because a previous family member has and so on.

We Responded:

We agree, though, that ethically “Coroners are NOT [again your caps!] allowed to use their position to gain business in their personal funeral homes.” What we don’t quite get is your point. Whether they are “allowed” has no practical or real effect on whether they do misuse their positions. One point you seem to have missed [again!] is that they can garner political and professional capital even if they don’s use their own “personal” funeral home. Think about that for a minute and if you don’t get it, please let us know and we’ll walk you through it.

Again, we agree with you that many funeral homes may be what we properly call “family funeral homes,” or funeral homes that stay in a single family’s hands for a couple of generations. That is changing and, if you read our articles with the intent to understand what is actually written rather than what the voices in your head are telling you to see, you will find that we are ardent champions of the family-owned, local funeral home as opposed to the multi-state factory funeral service corporations. But you likely would have missed that point. [Ed.: You may want to see our articles: “Birds of a Feather? Lying down with dogs? The Politics of Funeral Corporations….” and “Bring Out Your Dead! A Monty Python Prophesy“.]

Lorin Marra writes:

The fact that coroners can’t make a living off of just being a coroner (less than $30,000 a year) should prove that this article was a waste of time.

We Responded:

You have failed to disguise your arrogance, though, when you state that “coroners can’t make a living off of just being a coroner” [Oh! Your grammar is painful!] No, I wouldn’t think that they’d be able to do anything by just “being a coronoer,” I’d expect they’d have to actually do something besides just being an anything. But the City of Albany and the County of Albany have literally dozens of “employees” and “appointees” who make good money by just “being” a something and not necessarily doing anything. Besides, many people, perhaps not in your privileged group, have to make a living and even support a family on “less than $30,000 a year”. Get a grip, Lorin, and join the real world. (Your Mercedes is showing!).

Lorin Marra writes:

Also, Paul Marra has been a coroner for 29 years and has been a board cerified medi legal death investigator for over 15 tears. He has take n charge of over 5000 death investigations and attended well over 1000 autopsies. He also has trained for over 600 hours with the State association of County Coroners. [Ed.: Lorin Marra seems to keep better records and statistics than the County of Albany. Wonder where she got her figures?]

We Responded:

Has Paul Marra actually seen what’s behind this door?

The fact that “Paul Marra has been a coroner for 29 years and has been a board-certified medi [sic] legal death investicator for over 15 years” again supports everything we have written in the article you appear to be disputing. While we are struggling to identify what a “board[-]certified medi legal [Ed.: The word Lorin is struggling to get right twice (!) is “medicolegal.” Is she really a Siena graduate?] death investigator” might be, we would like to ask the glaring question that emerges from your statement: If he has been a coroner for 29 years but certified to investigate deaths for only 15 of those 29 years, how many mistakes did he make in the 14 years when he was not “certified?” The fact that he has been a coroner for 29 years, elected every 4 years, simply proves that too little scrutiny goes into the office of coroner and further supports the fact that in Albany County, once you’re in you’re in for life.

You state that Paul Marra has “trained for over 600 with the State [A]ssociation of County Coroners.” We’re not in the least impressed by that statement. Here’s an example: In one summer, a contributor of ours trained in a major hospital for over 500 hours to earn just one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education credit towards his qualifications. I repeat, that was 500 hours in one summer for one credit! We assume that you’re referring to 600 hours for Mr Marra’s training over a number of years. That’s not impressive in the least, especially when you consider the years of training that a real medicolegal death investigator must do to qualify and then the continuing education required just to keep the pathologist’s licence! Please, don’t talk to us about Mr Marra’s paltry training record!

Lorin Marra writes:

Please do your research next time.

We Responded:

The article, dear Lorin, clearly states the facts as provided by official sources, in particular the Albany County Coroner’s Office, and information from public access sources and published articles. Our facts are true, complete and correct, which is more than we can say about your subjective and clearly biased remarks about your relative, Paul Marra.

Furthermore, the professional and scientific literature abounds with one single conspicuous observation: The office of the coroner is obsolete and, since its very beginning in the 12th century, has been political and corrupt. Nothing has changed since then. Furthermore, until very recently, with the deployment of the Electronic Death Registry system in New York State, recordkeeping documenting coroners’ activities and cases was deplorable.

Lorin Marra writes:

Also legislation has just passed that requires coroners to have more training.

We Responded:

The only legislation that we are interested in is legislation to eliminate the office of the coroner and replace it with a competitive system that would employ specially trained medicolegal personnel for death investigations. Those professional death investigators may be assisted by a subordinate assistant with appropriate training. The current coroner system is inadequate, unqualified, ignorant, and obsolete. If that’s not enough reason to eliminate it, please add to that list the fact that it is politically tainted and corrupt.

Lorin Marra writes:

Please do your research next time.

We Responded:

We did extensive research for the article and stand by our facts as written and represented. We do suggest, however, that you be tested for dyslexia as soon as possible by a qualified professional. Your reading comprehension or your cognitive processing appears to be severely impaired.


Coroner’s Office Just as Dead

If you’ve made it this far, you deserve a bit of humor and entertainment. Here’s one of our favorite scenes from Monty Python’s In Search of the Holy Grail. Enjoy!

Obviously, Ms Marra was not interested in the facts and figures we very conscientiously researched and published in our article; instead, she was more interested in demonstrating her inability to read the English language. If her dyslexia is shared by Paul Marra, Albany County Coroner, it’s no wonder that their records and available information is so scanty and incomplete. The fact that Ms Marra came up with figures that the Albany County Coroner’s Office couldn’t produce does shed some light on the fact that either Ms Marra’s figures are phoney or the Albany County Coroner’s Office doesn’t want to share some embarrassing information with the public, or the information is simply unavailable because of the Albany County coroners’ poor record keeping practices. Maybe the answer is “all of the above.”

The fact is, our information is good as 24 karat gold. All of it comes from reliable sources. The fact that Albany County has poor record keeping practices and the County doesn’t consider it important enough to update their software is a problem voters might want to address. The fact that Schenectady County (medical examiner’s office) and Greene County (coroners) dragged their feet for months and only produced a fistful of information or no information at all, or just excuses made by the county attorney, is at the very least a black eye for those counties. The Rensselaer county attorney should be brought up on charges for refusing to provide any information on the Rensselaer County Medical Examiner’s office. If that’s democracy at work and freedom of information…

Make Your Vote Count!
Big Choice! They’re All Dems!!!
Be Informed!

Demand Accountability

P.s. If you’re interested in the current candidates for coroner this time around, don’t be surprised that they’re all Democrats, you can go to the Vote411 site. Click here.

Here’s some additional information on medicolegal death investigators. According to the ABMDI, The American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, FAQs page, the medicolegal death investigator doesn’t need any special training or education.

  1. What is a Medicolegal Death Investigator?
    The role of the medicolegal death investigator is to investigate any death that falls under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner or coroner, including all suspicious, violent, unexplained and unexpected deaths. The medicolegal death investigator is responsible for the dead person, whereas the local law enforcement jurisdiction is responsible for the scene. The medicolegal death investigator performs scene investigations emphasizing information developed from the decedent and determines the extent to which further investigation is necessary. Medicolegal death investigators should have a combination of education and skills encompassing areas of medicine and law.
  2. Who can become a Medicolegal Death Investigator?
    There are no formal requirements to become a medicolegal death investigator. Each coroner and medical examiner office has different hiring practices. A medicolegal death investigator must be knowledgeable of local, state and federal laws. In addition, a medicolegal death investigator must be the most medically knowledgeable person at the scene of the crime to determine if further investigation is necessary.
  3. Do I have to have a degree?
    There are no formal educational requirements specifically for medicolegal death investigation. Any degree program dealing with Forensic Science, Natural science, Anthropology, Nursing, or any other medically related field would be useful. There are several established training courses available throughout the country that teach the basic information needed in order to perform a thorough, competent medicolegal death investigation.
  4. How much money will I make as a Medicolegal Death Investigator?
    An investigator’s salary will be determined by the jurisdiction and amount of experience the medicolegal death investigator has. Salaries and benefits vary throughout the United States.

[Source ABMDI FAQ page, http://www.abmdi.org/faq, last accessed on October 9, 2017]

Bottom Line: There are no special education requirements or degree requirements to be a so-called “medicolegal death investigator.” But the fact that “a medicolegal death investigator must be the most medically knowledgeable person at the scene of the crime” is very disturbing because most funeral directors have only a two-year degree in mortuary science, and that degree has very little to do with any “medical knowledge.” Furthermore, a degree in mortuary science or, more accurately, in funeral home operations, is not generally considered a medically related field.

Now doesn’t that information make you feel more comfortable about who is making decisions about a human being’s death at a possible crime scene?

 

Hello. County Coroner? We’ve got a body here.
[Ha, ha, ha!]

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2017 in Abuse of Public Office, Albany, Albany County Coroner, Albany County Coroners Office, Albany County District Attorney, Albany County Executive, Albany County Supervisor, Albany Mayor, Arthur Fitch, Babcock Funeral Home, Benjamin Sturges, Bill Loetterle, Bob Freeman, Bring out your dead, Bureau of Funeral Directing, Capital District, Charles Smoot, Conflict of Interest, County & Municipal Employees, County Legislator, Dan McCoy, Daniel McCoy, Death, Death Awareness, Death care, Death Certificate, Death Education, Death Investigation, Deathcare, Democrap, Democrats, Dick Touchette, Dignity Memorial, Elected Official, Elections and Voting, F.O.I.L., Favoritism, Francis Simmons, Frank Commisso, Frank Simmons, Freedom of Information Law, Funeral, Funeral Home, Greene County, Greene County Attorney, Greene County Coroner, Greene County District Attorney, Greene County Sheriff, Hudson Valley, Human Service, Hypocrisy, Investigation, Jack Flynn, James Cavanaugh, Joe Stanzione, Joseph Stanzione, Kristin Gillibrand, Lorin Marra, Magin & Keegan Funeral Home, Marra Funeral Home, McLoughlin & Mason Funeral Home, Monitoring, Nepotism, New York State Funeral Directors Association, Newcomer Funeral Home, Newcomer Funeral Services Group, Newcomer Funerals and Cremations, Nicholas J. Facci, Nick Facci, Nick Facci Facebook, NYSDOH, NYSFDA, Office of the Professions, Paul Marra, Professional Ethics, Public Office, Rahmar Lockeridge, Ren Newcomer, Rennselaer County Attorney, Rensselaer County, Rensselaer County Medical Examiner, Richard Touchette, Rick Touchette, Robert J. Freeman, Schenectady County, Schenectady County Medical Examiner, Service Corporation International, Shame On You, Transparency, William Loetterle

 

Politics, Power, Patronage and Conflicts of Interest: The Albany County Coroners Office

From its Very Beginnings, the Office of the Coroner was Tainted by Politics, Greed and Corruption.

The office of the coroner has existed for about 800 years and began in England, in the 12th century (1194) when the office of the “crowner” was created to investigate suspected felony deaths. Then, as now, there was government interest in such deaths and it wasn’t justice or public health. You see, the coroner, if he found that the death was due to a felony, would then investigate and confiscate the felon’s property, which went to the crown. Of course the coroner would get a cut of the goods, too. So, from its very beginnings, the office of the coroner was tainted by politics, greed and corruption. Add to this toxic mix the Democrat political machine in Albany, and it can’t get much worse.


Three out of the four incumbent coroners are Guess what? funeral directors actively practicing in the Albany County region. Charles Smoot, the de rigueur token African American at the Albany County Coroner’s office, and one coroner the others would like to get rid of for a number of reasons, John Keegan, and Paul Marra are funeral directors and work as coroners. There’s a conflict of interest here because the coroner has to call a funeral director or funeral home to take custody of the body after the investigation. If you were in the business, who would you call?

Timothy Cavenaugh owes his claim to the coroner’s office to his political connections and to the fact that his father, James Cavenaugh, was Albany County Coroner before him. It appears that the Albany County coroner is not only political, it’s hereditary.

You’ve all seen the Newcomer Cryptkeeper ads on TV.

It does get worse, though, and here’s how: One of the contenders for the elected position is Frank Simmons, another funeral director, who — according to the recent Albany Times Union report —  works for Guess who? Newcomer Funerals and Cremations in Albany. Yes, that’s the same nickel-and-diming, factory funeral provider that’s part of the Newcomer Funeral Services Group, the funeral home chain that operates in some 10 states. Newcomer just opened a new location in Latham and it seems they need more bodies so why not run for coroner? Does anyone see the plan, the agenda, the potential for corruption and conflicts of interest in this coroner system as it operates in Albany County? (The Holubs dumpster-diving moghuls of the Ghettochopper, that is, Pricechopper fame have bought a share of Albany government; now it’s Newcomer Funerals and Cremations who what their share of the local action?)


Editor’s Note:

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read our articles on Newcomer Funerals and Cremations, Service Corporation International (a.k.a. Dignity Memorial), and StoneMor, please see our articles at:


In a 2010 article published in the Times Union  (Coroner saw much in his decades on job, Times Union, November 24, 2010) reported on an Albany County Coroner, Bill Loetterle (now deceased, see his obituary), in which Loetterle describes some of his experiences, and provides some insights into the operations of the coroner’s position in Albany County. He describes how in one case he was ready to call a murder, the police stepped in and overruled him calling it a suicide. Sends up red flags already. He describes serious mistakes being made in the coroner’s office like getting names wrong for the bodies in their custody. In that article, Dr Jeffrey Hubbard, a pathologist working with the Albany County Coroners Office is quoted as saying “the coroners office doesn’t have the answers and doesn’t know when they are going to come about. They are waiting for the pathologist, or pathology lab or for the police.” Makes you wonder why there’s a coroners office in the first place.

Then why have the extra level, the coroners, if they don’t have the answers and have to rely on the pathologist or the police? The County of Albany is already paying the pathologists and the police are already on the payroll. Sounds political and corrupt to us.

You might go back to Loetterle’s tale about the homicide called suicide by the police, overruling the opinion of the coroner. Do you really think that isn’t possible given the fact that the politics in Albany County run law enforcement and the coroners office? Better think again!

Former Albany County Coroner William Loetterle was a Purchasing Agent at GE

So, Loetterle (A Democrat, of course!) came on board as an appointed part-time coroner in 1979 and stayed on the job until 2010, 30 years! Loetterle worked for GE as a purchasing agent. That’s the qualification of the guy who’s going to determine the circumstances of a suspicious or unattended death, whether on the street or in the hospital, and sign the death certificate. It’s no wonder that death statistics are so screwed up!

In the TU 2010 article, though, Mr Loetterle, if you don’t believe he was part of the machine, totally unqualified and just outright ignorant, we read that in his “educated” opinion, “having coroners is better than having medical examiners because it’s much less costly for the taxpayers.” We’ve done a thorough study of the coroner and ME system and we know that that statement is categorically untrue and incorrect, as we’ll point out below.

Albany County Coroners are so good that they actually sent a woman who was still alive to the morgue!

The coroner is poorly trained and doesn’t have the necessary education to do the job

Furthermore, the office of coroner is for all practical purposes antiquated and obsolete. Moreover, it’s more costly to taxpayers because it actually duplicates effort and costs, and is actually detrimental to the public health efforts and programs at state and federal level because the coroner is poorly trained and doesn’t have the necessary education to do the job. That and the fact that it’s an elected position and only those candidates that get local political party approval get on the ballot.


Incompetence goes viral….

In a New York Times article, the writer refers to the coroners office as a “relic.” The article goes on to describe how an elderly woman was found in her apartment in an Albany complex for the elderly:

The old woman was sprawled on her living room floor, cold and motionless, and the apartment manager who found her on Wednesday was sure she was gone. Paramedics and the Albany County Coroner… found no heartbeat, no pulse, no breath or other signs of life, and the [Albany] coroner declared her officially dead.

They zipped Mildred C. Clarke, 86, into a body bag, took her to the morgue at the Albany Medical Center Hospital and left her in a room where corpses are kept at 40 degrees, pending autopsies or funerals. About 90 minutes later, the chief morgue attendant went in to transfer her to a funeral home.  (NYTimes

Albany paramedics and an Albany County coroner declare the woman dead, transfer her to Albany Medical Center, and no one there has any interest in confirming she’s dead or alive, and she gets put into a refrigerator where she stays until a morgue attendant notices the body bag moving. Something out of a horror flick? Hell, NO! It’s Albany County and Albany Medical Center at work!

Lucky she wasn’t an organ donor! But according to a NYT follow-up report Mrs Clark later died a week later at Albany Medical Center of ‘undisclosed causes,’ according to an Albany Medical Center spokesperson. (NYTimes)

William X Kienzle even includes the incident in his book, Requiem for Moses  (Kienzle, William X. Requiem for Moses. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Pub, 2013). That’s how Albany County gets on the map, we suppose.


So that brings us to another Times Union article published just recently, on May 23, 2017, entitled “Albany coroners race could have Democratic Primary. Democratic nominees face 4 others in Albany County” The reporter writes, “following a long, often contentious and disorganized Albany County Democratic Committee meeting…two incumbent coroners secured the Democratic nomination” for the coroner posts up for re-election. Four others were also endorsed by the Democrats. Can it get any more political?

Of course, the Albany County Democratic Committee chairman, Jack Flynn, would not comment on the strong interest in the coroner post but we will.

Albany County: No politics. No power. No patronage. No way!

A couple of years ago, Albany County considered changing over to the medical examiner system where a licensed and specially trained physician would do the death investigations (“Charter panel weighs coroner’s role,” Times Union, April 29, 2013). That article describes the Albany County Charter Committee as “11-member panel will tread lightly around the perception that it’s bent on curtailing anyone’s power.” Power. Not the public’s interests or welfare but power. The article is otherwise uninformative beyond confirming the corruption of the Albany Democratic machine and the infighting.

Somehow Albany has managed to misinform and keep the electorate ignorant and County Executive McCoy, Democratic Committee chairman Flynn, Majority Leader Frank Commisso (majority leader since 1993!), and certainly not the coroners or their highly-paid local pathologists or Albany Medical Center, whose facilities the Albany County Coroners Office uses for storing bodies and for forensic examinations. They all have an interest in keeping the obsolete and antiquated Albany County Coroners Office in place despite good evidence that it should be dumped and replaced by a medical examiner system. But no politics, no power, no patronage? No way!

This wouldn’t be a political position and would be governed by the professional ethics and oversight agencies that watchdog physician’s activities. But that wouldn’t be something the Albany Democrats would be interested in, would it? No politics. No power. No patrons. No way!

We should mention here that both Schenectady and Rensselaer Counties, as well as the majority of the rest of the country, especially those more advanced locales, have opted for the medical examiner system over and against the coroner system. There are many good reasons for this and we’ll be discussing them in future parts of this series of articles. The unfounded opinion of some supporters of the Albany County Coroners Office that the coroner system is less expensive to tax payers are misinformed and make no sense. The coroner system is in most studies of the system found to be incompetent, inefficient, expensive, and detrimental to the public’s health. Too many unqualified or politically ambitious people tend to seek these offices and should take their egos on a vacation. Coroners, at least the Albany County Coroners, have another agenda, as we’ll point out below.

But in the old days, local docs could be found who would sell their signature for a Tootsie Roll., and we have evidence of one physician, now deceased, who assisted the Office of the Albany County Coroner by signing death certificates for a fee-per-signature; he was actually selling his signature for a fee, and didn’t give a damn what was on the DC. His cause of death was always ASD, heart disease! If you examine the death certificates he signed you’ll find he certified almost every single death inappropriately using an abbreviation (more on this later), ASD, “arteriosclerotic disease”, making the false impression that almost every death investigated by the Office of the Coroner was due to heart disease. Think of what that could mean to national statistics on death due to heart disease if such corruption is widespread! It is. And published studies prove that fact. Scientific, peer-reviewed studies show that heart disease as a cause of death was a highly reported fake cause of death. It was over-reported by ignorant people completing death certificates with no qualifications, or who didn’t really care what the cause of death was, so cardiac death was an easy way out.  Frequently still is.

Investigating Deaths with Almost No Qualifications!

Studies also show that coroners and many physicians do not know how to properly complete a death certificate. And many physicians don’t know when they are legally authorized to sign a death certificate, frequently giving an incorrect cause of death. If physicians can make those blunders think of the damage an untrained, poorly educated coroner like Bill Loetterle, Charles Smoot and others like them can do!

The On-call coroner Frequently Doesn’t Even Go to the Scene but Completes and Signs a Death Certificate

If it works for one, it’ll work for many. This scandalous practice continues to be the case. We have received information from the Albany County Coroner’s office that when a call reporting a death is made to the Office of the Albany County Coroner, the coroner goes directly to the scene of the death, investigates, makes his report, and, depending on his findings, completes the death certificate and signs it. That’s what the coroner’s office tells us.  What we have learned from some professionals who work with the Albany County Coroner’s Office is that the on-call coroner frequently doesn’t even go to the scene but completes and signs a death certificate. Incredible? Maybe, but really quite likely knowing how Albany County operates.

Now let’s have a closer look at Albany County before we proceed with a more detailed discussion of what MEs and coroners are required to do and how it affects us as individuals, and as a state and nation. Albany has been a Democrat party stronghold literally for generations, and the Party has a stranglehold on public office. Most of the institutions in the City of Albany and Albany County are controlled by the local Democrats who have established a powerful system of patronage: If you’re not a Democrat and a log-roller, or you don’t know someone in City Hall, you simply don’t get a job or you don’t get elected. It’s a simple but corrupt system to say the least. Qualifications or credentials may play a role but it’s really who you know, not what you know. So it’s no big surprise to note that all of the Albany County Coroners, all elected officials, are all Democrats.

You may also find it interesting to know that two of the four coroners are licensed funeral directors running local funeral homes, Paul Marra of Marra Funeral Home (Cohoes), and John Keegan of Magin & Keegan Funeral Home (Albany). One of the coroners, Charles Smoot, claims to be a licensed funeral director, and if he is he must be doing behind the scenes work – so-called “trade” work — for other funeral homes; no one seems to know where he works but the Albany County Coroner’s office confirms that he is a licensed funeral director. Informants in the funeral services business in Albany tell us they never see him at any continuing education events, a requirement for funeral directors and for coroners. So Smoot, as we have mentioned, may be just a fixture in the Coroners Office, the token, but even so, he’s not popular in the Albany County Coroners Office. They’ve been trying to get rid of him for some time now, we hear. We also have information that alleged funeral director-coroner Charles Smoot has close connections with Anthony Perniciaro of the McLoughlin & Mason Funeral Home (Troy) so guess who’s likely to get Smoot’s bodies.

How Public Office is Inherited in Albany County

The fourth Albany County coroner is Timothy Cavanaugh is a good example of how positions in the Albany Democrat machine get handed out, or in Cavanaugh’s case, handed down. Timothy is the son of a former, now dead, Albany County coroner, James Cavanaugh. The Cavanaugh dynasty is an example of how public office is inherited in Albany County. The same is true of one other coroner, Paul Marra, son of former coroner John Marra, also of Marra funeral Home in Cohoes. See the patterns? We’d also like to note that Paul Marra and John Keegan are not listed as owners on their respective funeral home web pages. We find that rather questionable, since we feel that those web pages should list the owners’ names or at least let the visitor know who is running the show. Or is does this have more sinister implications related to the owner’s holding a public elected office and possible conflicts of interest. You know, of course, that the coroners have to contact a licensed funeral home to transfer and take custody of the body once the investigation is completed.

Magin & Keegan Funeral Home, Cohoes

So we found it a bit suspicious when we asked about funeral homes used by the coroners, the Albany County Coroner’s Office could provide no information on which funeral homes the coroner’s tend to use for transferring the deceased. Three coroners who are funeral directors, two of whom own funeral homes, and one of which claims to be a licensed funeral director with close connections with a Troy funeral home. Now there couldn’t be any conflict or interest or abuse of public office here, could there? Not in Albany County?

And it does get even worse…

John Keegan not only co-owns and operates Capital District Affordable Cremations LLC in Albany, New York, Anthony Pernicaro of McLoughlan and Mason Funeral Home, Troy, is also one of the co-owners. That’s the same Anthony Pernicaro and the same McLoughlan and Mason Funeral Home we connected with Albany County Coroner Charles Smoot! Insider information received from local funeral home operators indicates that the three Albany County Coroner/Funeral Directors are abusing their positions to steer business to their own funeral homes and their other businesses.

Given the importance of ethics and integrity in public office and the adverse effect on health statistics information collected by death investigators like coroners, you’d think recordkeeping would be a high-priority item on the list of coroner administrative requirements; after all, it’s the office that is required to collect information and report it on such a serious occurrence such as a death. Well, recordkeeping is not really a very high priority in the Albany County Office of Coroners.

Here are just a couple of deficiencies we found in our investigation:

First of all, we place great value on documentation and fact-finding. This requires a system and it also requires a knowledge of how information and data collection affect other departments, programs and even government agencies. Apparently, the Albany County Coroners Office got left in the 1300s, while other locales changed over to the medical examiner system or at least developed data collection forms that reflect the importance of the death investigation data collected during the coroner call.

If anything clearly demonstrates the substandard workings of the Albany County Coroners Office, it’s the form used for documenting the death investigation. Here’s an Albany County Coroners Call Sheet used to document the facts of the scene investigation. Compare it to this one from Indiana (+coroners general death investigation protocol_indiana)or even this simplified one from Cleveland (+Coroner-Call Sheet (Cleveland Ohio)). But our investigation found even more substandard practices in the Albany County Coroners Office. Here are just a few:

  • No up-to-date or upgraded software for entering and administering information collected by coroners (A key employee of the Albany coroners’ office tells us that the software they are using dates back to the 1980’s and has not been updated; the office can’t do queries or generate reports from the software. What’s up with this, Albany County?) (Per information received from the Coroners Office, “The computer system used by The Albany County Coroner’s Office is an internal spread sheet that has been created for our use. All records are also kept as paper copy within the Albany County Hall of Records.”)
  • No way to determine which coroner had which case and when (Wouldn’t that be of interest when you consider almost 1000 coroner calls in 2015 and more than 900 coroner calls in 2016?)
  • No way to report cases that were closed without autopsy and those that went to autopsy
  • No way to determine which coroner used which funeral home to transfer the body Now that’s convenient, isn’t it, considering that three of the coroners are funeral directors, two of whom own funeral homes, and one of whom allegedly has a close connection with a Troy funeral home?)
  • An unacceptable delay in getting autopsy reports: up to 90 days! When cases go to autopsy, there is a significant delay in getting the autopsy reports from the medicolegal/forensic pathologist (the Albany coroners office has four pathologists on call Drs Hubbard, Sikirica, Balasubramaniam (“Dr Bala”), and a Dr Ing, and one physician assisting the coroners, a Dr John Len). So why the delay in the autopsy reports and the consequent delay in closing the case?
  • Apparently there is no way for the coroners office to report which cases are pending closure and which are closed.
  • Cases are not tabulated by coroner; they are tabulated only as a total The Albany County Office of Coroners is unable to list dates of coroner’s calls with a corresponding coroner’s name, location, funeral home, or case closing date. We find this to be gross dereliction of responsibilities!
  • The Albany County Office of Coroners does not keep a list of funeral homes used by the coroners. We don’t wonder Why? Do you?
  • Contrary to personal informal reports we have received, and which resulted in our interest in this topic, the Albany County Office of Coroners tells us that they have received no complaints regarding the performance of their coroners. (Per the Coroner’s Office, “As stated above any complaints against The Albany County Coroners would go through The Albany County Board of Legislators. In checking with them on this matter, no complaints have been filed against this office.” Do you wonder?)

Although the coroners have no medical training, and can be elected from any status in the general public, as long as they can get on the ballot. According to statute coroners must participate in a minimal death investigation course. The Albany County Office of Coroners reports that “all” county coroners receive annual training through the

  • New York State Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners (NYSACME)
  • The American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigation
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and
  • Funeral Director CEU (continuing education units).

We note that the Albany County Office of Coroners response clearly reads “[a]ll of our coroners receive yearly training through those organizations. Does “all” mean all as in every, each? If it does we have some questions. One of those questions arise because we have personal communications from funeral professionals who state that they don’t see Charles Smoot at any of the funeral director continuing education events (CEU). Where is he getting his continuing training? Who’s paying for it? The answer to the first question is: Nobody knows. The answer to the second question is: We are.

Given the inadequate documentation, and without some documentation of a coroner’s whereabouts at a particular time a coroner’s case is called in and a death investigation is supposedly being done it will be very difficult if not impossible, to defend against any claims that the coroners are not attending at the death scene but are signing death certificates without due and diligent investigation. This is a serious issue and must be responded to and dealt with. We now publicly submit this question to the Albany County Office of Coroners and demand a response.

Here’s what the Albany County Budget for 2017 lists for the Albany County Coroners Office:

 Albany County Coroners Office Personnel Count

2015 2016 2017
A 1185 Personnel Count 6 6 6
A1185 Coroner $725,824 $733,039 $733,239
2014 2015 2016
A 1185 Personnel Count 6 6 6
A1185 Coroner $693,504 $727,294 $728,729

So the budget figures don’t lie but they also don’t tell the whole story. So we filed several demands for production of documents and information under the New York State Public Officers Law or the Freedom of Information Law. All criticisms aside, we have to give credit where credit is due: The clerk / administrator and confidential secretary at the Albany County Coroners Office have been very helpful and forthcoming, and we hope honest — in providing information in response to our demands. Unfortunately, much of what they provided does not speak in favor of the coroners office:

Albany Medical Center Propaganda

In 2015, Albany Medical Center performed all of 222 autopsies for the Albany County coroners. In 2016 , Albany Medical Center again performed a majority of our 230 autopsies for Albany County. Ellis Hospital began a contract with Albany County at this time but, according to the Coroners Office “a breakdown of these numbers is not possible with out going through each case by hand.” This is the 21st century, people! Everyone has computer software for keeping these sorts of records! Why doesn’t Albany County?

Albany County does not bill for out-of-county residence. If a person dies within Albany County, Albany County picks up the cost of Coroner involvement, pursuant to New York State Law. According to a Times Union report these costs totaled nearly $113,000 from January 2012 to August 2013 (“The dead’s tab: $61,426. When a patient flown to Albany Med dies, Albany County pays for the autopsy.” Times Union, November 25, 2014). During that same period the $61,426 for 56 outside cases in 2012 accounted for about 10 percent of the coroner’s overall $603,000 2013 budget. .But they can and should bill the cost back to the county of residence.

As mentioned above, the Albany County Coroners Office uses outside pathologists: Jeffrey Hubbard MD, Michael Sikirica MD, and Nadarajah Balasubramaniam MD a.k.a. Dr Bala. We demanded information regarding the costs of pathologist services and the Coroners Office provided these figures:

Pathology rates per patient:
Autopsy 770.00
Certification of Death 75.00
Review of records/exam/Certification 360.00

 

Amounts Paid to Pathologists
Per year
2015
Dr. Hubbard $46,980.00
Forensic Medical Services
Drs Sikirica and Balasubramaniam
$138,075.00
2016
Dr. Hubbard $68,125.00
Forensic Medical Services
Drs Sikirica and Balasubramaniam
$146,725.00

Albany Medical Center Autopsy Room

In addition to the three pathologists, John Len MD is a so-called physician assisting the coroners. Len was paid $3,350.00 in 2015, and $11,285.00 in 2016 for “assisting” Albany County coroners. Len, in other words, sells his signature to certify deaths when there is no personal physician.

Albany Medical Center has been the Albany County Coroners Office’s primary autopsy and lab and facility for the years 2015 and 2016. Ellis Hospital (Schenectady) began a contract with Albany County at the end of 2016, it is on a trial basis continuing through 2017.

Amount Paid to Albany Medical Center (Autopsy Services)
2015
Albany Medical Center $198,890.94
2016
Albany Medical Center $189,532.98
Ellis Hospital $6,550.00

Additional Laboratory Testing Services: In 2015 and 2016 National Medical and Bender Laboratories were used for additional toxicology services.

2016
National Medical $7,242.00
Bender Laboratories $27,500.00
2015
National Medical $13,881.66
Bender Laboratories $1770.00

We have demanded this same information from the Schenectady and Rensselaer Medical Examiner Offices and from the Greene County Office of the Coroner. As of this writing, their responses are still outstanding. Once we receive that information, we will publish a comparison of the systems.

Literally thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of deaths in Albany County are in a limbo land thanks to the decrepit and irresponsible administration of coroner records in the Albany County Coroners Office

Whereas the New York State Department of Health (NYDOH) has implemented an Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS) in a number of counties in New York State,  implementation of the system in 2017 does not alter the fact that substandard recordkeeping in the Albany County Coroners Office has prevented any attempt at quality control or even retrieval of important data for administrative, study or research purposes. This means that information on literally thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of deaths in Albany County are in a limbo land thanks to the decrepit and irresponsible administration of coroner records in the Albany County Coroners Office.

It’s too little too late for many and we really have to ask the burning question, “Who dropped the ball for so many years?”

It’s the 21st century and it was a long time in finally coming but is still not fully implemented throughout the state, New York State’s Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS) in a secure web-based system for electronically registering deaths. EDRS simplifies the data collection process and enhances communication between health care providers and medical certifiers, medical examiners/coroners, funeral directors, and local registrars as they work together to register deaths. That having been said, it’s too little too late for many and we really have to ask the burning question, “Who dropped the ball for so many years?”

For now, though, Albany County Residents and our readers far and wide can draw their own conclusions about Albany County and it’s questionable rationale in keeping the obsolete, inefficient, and antiquated Albany County Coroners Office, apart from the obvious corrupt and self-serving political, power, patronage and economic interests involved.

We’d like to invite you to share your experiences of the coroner and medical examiner system with us. We’ll share them with our readers to enable them to be better informed and to improve their public health systems.

It’s time to do a forensic autopsy on Albany County and the Albany County Coroners Office!

Time to Autopsy the
Albany County Coroners Office
The Editor


Editor’s Note

The Albany Times Union reported that Mr Frank Simmons, one of the controversial candidates for Albany County Coroner, is an employee of Newcomer Funerals and Cremations: “Simmons, a funeral home director at New Comer Funerals and Cremations, intend[s] to petition to be on the ballot for the Democratic primary in September.” We have received information from a reliable source and in the funeral service business that Simmons is not employed by Newcomer but by the John J. Sandvidge Funeral Home, Troy. We are looking into this information and have notified Ms Amanda Fries, author of the Times Union article.


 

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Abuse of Public Office, Albany, Albany County Coroner, Albany County Coroners Office, Albany County District Attorney, Albany County Elections, Albany County Executive, Albany County Executive, Albany County Legislature, Albany County Sheriff Department, Albany County Supervisor, Albany Police, Anthony Perniciaro, Arthur Fitch, Bill Loetterle, Bring out your dead, Bureau of Funeral Directing, Capital District, Charles Smoot, Conflict of Interest, Corruption, County Legislator, Craig D. Apple Sr., Dan McCoy, Daniel McCoy, David Soares, Death, Death Certificate, Death Investigation, Democratic Party Committee, Dignity Memorial, EDRS, Elected Official, Electronic Death Registration System, Favoritism, Frank Commisso, Frank Simmons, Freedom of Information Law, Greene County, Greene County Coroner, Greene County District Attorney, Greene County Sheriff, Hudson Valley, Jack Flynn, James Cavanaugh, Jeffrey Hubbard, John Keegan, John Len, Law Enforcement, Licensed Funeral Director, Magin & Keegan Funeral Home, Marra Funeral Home, McLoughlin & Mason Funeral Home, Michael Sikirica, Nadarajah Balasubramaniam, National Funeral Directors Association, New York State, New York State Funeral Directors Association, Newcomer Funeral Home, Newcomer Funeral Services Group, Newcomer Funerals and Cremations, Nick Facci, NYS Assembly, NYS Senate, P. David Soares, Paul Marra, Public Corruption, Rensselaer County Medical Examiner, Richard Touchette, Rick Touchette, Schenectady County Medical Examiner, SCI, Service Corporation International, StoneMor, Timmothy Cavanaugh, Uncategorized, William Loetterle