Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dead Dogs Found on Officer Matthew Beck's Property

The bodies of at least two dogs with gunshot wounds to the head were found Wednesday by police on the property of town Dog Control Officer Matthew Beck.
Town Supervisor Marilyn Douglas said Friday Beck has been placed on an indefinite leave of absence without pay.

Sgt. James Doyle of the New York State Police said the bones have been turned over to Ward Stone, a state Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife pathologist, for identification. Doyle said Stone's investigation so far indicates the two dogs were shot in the head while looking up at the weapon.

Beck was arrested by state police in March and charged with a felony count of forgery, and a number of misdemeanors relating to alleged misconduct of a public official, a petit larceny. The charges and subsequent investigation stem from a complaint by April Stevens of Hoosick, who lost her two dogs in February.

A resident reported to Stevens that she had found the lost dogs and turned them over to Beck. When police told Beck to return Stevens' dogs, the animals he returned were not hers.

Police said the current charges stem from Beck allegedly falsifying reports.

Doyle said that depending on the outcome of Stone's investigation, Beck may face further charges. He said Beck's next court date is June 11.

He said the findings bolster police suspicions that Beck killed Stevens' dogs. Also found in the manure pile with the dog bones were a number of cow bones, but Doyle said he did not believe there was any illegal activity regarding cows.
Douglas said Friday that the town's attorney has advised the Town Board not to comment on the case, as it is a pending legal issue. Douglas said Safe Haven Boarding and Grooming of Greenwich has been hired by the town to perform the duties of dog control officer.

Prior to Beck's leave of absence, he was supervised by Douglas and Highway Superintendent Bill Shiland and filed monthly reports to the board.

After the incident, some residents began expressing their concern at monthly board meetings about Beck still being on the job and having to be supervised while the investigation was conducted.

Douglas and other board members said they could not comment on personnel matters outside of executive sessions, and at the time the evidence against Beck was not great enough to warrant further actions against him.

Officer Robert Fratta Sentenced to Death for Hiring Hit Men to Kill his Wife

A jury has decided on the death penalty for a former police officer convicted of hiring two hit men to kill his estranged wife.

Robert Fratta was an officer in former Missouri City who was being retried in his wife's death. Jurors in Houston began deliberating his sentence Saturday morning after being sequestered Friday.

Fratta was convicted earlier this month of hiring two men to shoot his wife, Farah, in 1994.

Fratta's 1996 conviction was overturned. An appeals court ruled that confessions from his coconspirators shouldn't have been admitted into evidence because Fratta's lawyers could not cross-examine them.

The coconspirators remain on death row.

Cpl Benjamin Kruszynski Pleads Guilty to Drunk Driving

An Elkhart police officer who crashed his squad car while off duty last Sunday has resigned and pleaded guilty to drunken driving and criminal recklessness.

Cpl. Benjamin Kruszynski was arrested after he crashed into two fences and a tree while speeding with four other people in his squad car. Authorities say the 38-year-old was travelling faster than 100 mph.

Police say Kruszynski's blood-alcohol level two hours after the crash was 0.12 percent. Indiana's legal limit is 0.08 percent.

Kruszynski resigned Thursday and entered the pleas on the misdemeanor charges yesterday. The Elkhart Board of Public Safety unanimously voted to accept his resignation.

No injuries were reported in the accident.
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