It is my understanding that the Grand Jury started meeting in September. It is also my understanding that the FBI is still investigating. http://www.fltimes.com/main.asp?SectionID=38&ArticleID=11874&SubSectionID=121
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Seneca County subject of FBI probe
By CRAIG FOX
Finger Lakes Timescfox@fltimes.com
WATERLOO — Just as the special prosecutor’s in-vestigation into the Seneca County Sheriff’s Department is growing, a former Fayette supervisor has confirmed that the FBI is looking into possible corruption within the county.
Robert Peterman said Monday that he talked to an FBI agent from the Elmira office about an investigation into Seneca County matters.
Peterman was interviewed for an hour by FBI Special Agent Mark Thompson about three weeks ago, but the former supervisor would not reveal the contents of the discussion.
“... I don’t want to say anything to incriminate anybody or interfere with what they’re doing,” Peterman said, adding he doesn’t know who else agents have interviewed.
Peterman has been a vocal critic of county government since he left office in 2003 after serving one term as supervisor.
Mark Falconetti, an FBI spokesman in the Buffalo office, said Monday he would not comment about any investigation.
“It’s always been a policy not to discuss whether we have an investigation going on,” Falconetti said.
Peterman’s confirmation of the FBI probe has come at a time when a special prosecutor, Ontario County District Attorney R. Michael Tantillo, is dealing with considerable public input into his investigation of possible criminal acts by five Seneca County sheriff’s employees.
He would not confirm having knowledge of the FBI probe.
“It would be grossly inappropriate for me to comment on whether any other agency is involved in an investigation,” Tantillo said, adding he’s pursuing his own probe. “I have a job to do.”
His investigation was initiated after a suspicious Feb. 3 fire at the former Seneca Army Depot, which destroyed the sheriff department’s navigational unit, some evidence, a command post vehicle and other equipment.
Tantillo said Monday that a number of people have already been interviewed, but he wouldn’t provide a number, just calling it a “pretty significant amount” and noting that many of them have come forward wanting to talk about what they know.
In fact, the number who’ve come forward is so large that Tantillo said he has delayed taking the case to a Seneca County grand jury until all the interviews are completed.
“Not a week goes by without several more people [calling],” Tantillo said, adding that he had intended to go to the grand jury weeks ago.
Now it could be several more weeks, he said, but “I do think I’m getting closer.”
Former Republican Election Commissioner Larry Peterson confirmed Monday night that he’s one of the people who have talked to state police as part of Tantillo’s probe, but he would not divulge what he told the investigator.
Although he got involved in the case because of the fire, Tantillo has said that the scope of his investigation could widen and lead elsewhere.
Tantillo has confirmed that his investigation is focused partly on what happened to several tires for sheriff’s department vehicles. Seneca County Sheriff Leo Connolly, who is on medical leave after having surgery last week, has also confirmed that tires were stored in the warehouse at the time of the fire.
Before he went on medical leave, Connolly said that he “had no knowledge” of FBI involvement in a local investigation.
Four sheriff’s department employees with access to the building were put on administrative leave shortly after the fire. One of them, former Undersheriff James R. Larson, resigned March 1. Several county-owned items were found in Larson’s home, Seneca Falls Supervisor Peter Same has said.
The other three employees are deputies; one of them, Scott Buck, has since left the department after being disciplined for urinating on a state police patrol car during a disturbance at the Waterloo Holiday Inn. The other two have since returned to work.