William Fitzpatrick

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

A school safety task force met in Syracuse recently to discuss procedures that can prevent or reduce the damage of a school shooting. Teachers and students want to know how safety in schools can be improved immediately, before a longer list of recommendations is made in August.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

In the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, local leaders are convening a task force that will create a blueprint for school safety in central New York.

Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick says a massive government failure played a part in the Parkland tragedy.

“Parkland was a blueprint for government disaster," FitzPatrick said. "Ineffectiveness of almost every institution in Parkland that was designed to protect children in Parkland failed."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County lawmakers are looking at a trio of packages targeting ethics reform. Two spring out of an ethics proposal put forth by County Executive Joanie Mahoney in June and a third targets the Mahoney administration. At the root of this flurry of reforms is a long simmering feud between the Mahoney administration and County Comptroller Bob Antonacci.

District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, who sits on the county’s ethics board, says Antonacci’s outside income officiating basketball games and doing bookwork for personal clients creates ethics questions.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick has joined other law enforcement officials across the state in recent days who are criticizing "raise the age" legislation that’s being debated in Albany.

Raise the age would take 16- and 17-year-olds accused of certain crimes out of the adult justice system and into family court. Advocates say dumping teens into the adult criminal justice system makes it much harder for them to get their life back on track.

Provided by the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department

The Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department announced that two arrests have been made in the robbery and murder of a Syracuse University student in September in the town of DeWitt.

Cameron Isaac, 23, of North Syracuse and Ninimbe Mitchell, 20, of Syracuse were both charged with second-degree murder and first-degree robbery. The victim was Xiaopeng Yuan, 23, who is from China. Officials described the incident as a drug deal gone wrong.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

An Onondaga County grand jury has determined the fatal shooting of a man by a Syracuse police officer in the Syracuse University area was justified. This was the third fatal shooting by Syracuse police officers this year.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Eight police departments in Onondaga County will now have needle and drug drop boxes installed at their facilities. They include the Baldwinsville, Camillus, Cicero, DeWitt, Geddes, Manlius, Marcellus and Syracuse police departments. It is part of an effort to reduce the number of heroin and opioid addictions in the county.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The arrest of two former employees of the Central New York SPCA for allegedly stealing funds from the animal shelter shines a light on the issue of embezzlement at nonprofits.

The former Executive Director of the Central New York SPCA, and a veterinary technician at the shelter, have been arraigned on charges that they embezzled nearly $700,000 from shelter’s accounts.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

An Onondaga County grand jury has determined that the fatal shooting of a man by a police officer in Syracuse on Father’s Day was justified. Hundreds of people were at a cookout that turned violent. Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said it started with a group of individuals that drove by and open fired on the crowd.

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Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick announced that 11 people have been arrested for inciting a riot at the Father’s Day shooting in Syracuse, during which an officer fired her gun and one man was killed. The officer responded to a shootout that included 37 shots fired from multiple guns, turning a large block party into chaos.

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A judge denied a defense motion to reduce the charges and change the trial venue for Ryan Lawrence, the Syracuse man charged with the murder and kidnapping of his 21-month-old daughter, Maddox. The defense is taking one motion to an appellate court.

Ryan Lawrence’s defense attorney, Michael Vavonese, said it is their position that the allegations against Lawrence, should not include the first degree murder and first degree kidnapping charges.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

A Syracuse police officer has been cleared by a grand jury of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of an armed woman.

Police officers Darrin Ettinger and Jeremy Decker were called to the scene back in February on a complaint of drug dealing. Upon arriving, the woman, brandishing a sawed-off shotgun, ran away from police officers, who told her multiple times to drop her weapon. The woman turned and pivoted towards Decker, pointing the gun in his direction. Ettinger fired two shots that hit the woman.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Onondaga County District Attorney’s office has confirmed that it is investigating the city of Syracuse. The investigation revolves around affidavits signed by two common councilors supporting a lawsuit the city brought against the COR Development Company.

The affidavits, signed by councilors Helen Hudson and Khalid Bey, claim that Steven Aiello, president of COR Development, promised not to seek tax breaks, called a PILOT agreement, on the Inner Harbor project in 2012.

“I can’t comment on that business happening with the DA,” Bey said.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Ryan Lawrence, the Syracuse man accused of murdering his 21-month-old daughter Maddox Lawrence last month, was denied bail at his arraignment Wednesday after being indicted on first-degree murder and kidnapping charges. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick wants to give the youth in the county the opportunity to join law enforcement in a new four-year program. The program is designed to be a deterrent from young people joining a gang.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick was sworn into office for a seventh time on Tuesday.  At the swearing-in ceremony, Fitzpatrick reflected back on his public service, which has included serving on a commission that investigated corruption in the New York State Legislature. The same legislature that has seen its leadership upended by guilty verdicts on federal corruption charges.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

There have been 70 shootings resulting in injuries and 11 in deaths in Syracuse through September of this year. Officials are offering up a range of solutions on how to reduce gun violence in the city.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

A human trafficking and prostitution sting operation between federal, state and local law enforcement yielded multiple arrests during this year’s New York State Fair, according Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick. Many of the women arrested apparently became involved in prostitution because of drug addictions.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO file photo

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse and seven district attorneys announced a new agreement on handling of sexual abuse cases Wednesday. The memorandum of understanding requires the diocese to report all abuse claims directly to the appropriate DA, whether they involve current or former clergy. Onondaga District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick introduced the agreement.

“There is no potential offender who is presenting any danger to any child in central New York,” he said.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

A 15-year-old open investigation of a homicide in the city of Syracuse has finally resulted in a murder indictment. New evidence is being tied to the suspect police have been after for years.

On April 23, 2000, Waliek Hammer was shot to death at a burger joint on South Salina Street in Syracuse.  Witnesses were uncooperative when police arrived and no one was ever charged for the murder.

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Dr. Robert Neulander was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison on Thursday for the murder of his wife Leslie Neulander in 2012. The trial of the prominent OB-GYN has shocked and fascinated the Syracuse community.

 

Onondaga County Court Judge Thomas Miller said he did not sentence Neulander to the maximum 25 years to life in prison because of the emotional toll taken on the Neulander family. They have maintained that Neulander is innocent. But Judge Miller also did not sentence the minimum 15 years in prison after scrutinizing the jurors' verdict.

 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Prosecutors and police agencies across central New York are trying a new strategy as they continue to fight the rising use of synthetic marijuana. Not since the bath salts craze of 2012 have local police and emergency personnel come across so many agitated individuals high on synthetic drugs. 

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Onondaga County’s top public prosecutor isn’t entirely on board with some proposals to make the grand jury process more transparent.

New York's chief judge has proposed that records of now secret grand jury proceedings be released when nobody is charged. He’s also called for direct judicial oversight when police are investigated for killings or felony assaults.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirms that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara sent a warning letter to the lawyer representing the now disbanded Moreland Act Commission on ethics, as first reported in The New York Times.  In the letter, The Times says, Bharara threatened to investigate the governor’s aides and maybe even Cuomo himself for “possible obstruction of justice or witness tampering.”

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his first public appearance since a potentially damaging news story about allegations his staff tampered with an ethics probe, tried to change the subject by talking about economic development.  But the story continues to dog the governor.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Syracuse police have cracked an almost 30-year-old murder case using a combination of high tech DNA and intensive police work. The arrest of a Georgia man who had long been a suspect in the investigation of the death of his estranged wife, is the latest success in the Syracuse Police Department’s cold case unit.

Authorities say Ronald Meadow will be arraigned on second-degree murder charges in Syracuse later this month, in connection with the death of his estranged wife, Colleen Meadow, who was found strangled to death in her northside apartment in March 1985.  

Advocacy groups are encouraged by recent statements made by the co-chairman of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s anti-corruption commission, who says he now favors public financing of political campaigns.

Syracuse-area Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick is the co-chairman of Cuomo’s Moreland Act Commission, and says he has become a convert to using public funds to finance political campaigns.

  The Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption is already making waves in Albany, as the media and the public react to what's coming out at its public hearings.  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher talks with the Commission's Co-chair, Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick, about the Commission's work and its possible impact on the state's politics.  He also addresses the charge that the Governor Andrew Cuomo is meddling in the Commission's affairs.

The Moreland Act Commission appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo is releasing a preliminary report on public corruption in a few weeks. The commission is charged with investigating corruption in state governmental agencies, and has already gone after the state Board of Elections and the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or J-COPE, at recent public hearings.

During an interview with Grant Reeher, host of WRVO's Campbell Conversations, commission co-chairman and Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick says the commission's investigation has uncovered criminal activity.

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