GLENS FALLS — Police are investigating an armed robbery Wednesday afternoon at the NBT Bank branch on Glen Street, and the suspect remained at large early Wednesday evening.
A masked man displayed a knife and made off with cash around 2:25 p.m., police said. No injuries were reported, and no one is in custody as of Thursday.
He was believed to have fled on foot south on Glen Street, toward South Glens Falls.
Glens Falls Police Detective Lt. Peter Casertino said the man was described as white, about 6 feet tall, wearing blue jeans, white sneakers, black jacket with camouflage accents, and a black mask.
He said the man did not have a note, but informed the clerk that he wanted money and “displayed” a knife.
Glens Falls Police officers could be seen canvassing downtown streets, checking garbage cans and storm drains, as of late afternoon. Detectives were interviewing bank employees later in the day and checking the bank’s surveillance cameras, as well as cameras from other businesses in the area.
The branch at 86 Glen is located across the street from Cool Insuring Arena. It was closed for the rest of Wednesday afternoon, but NBT regional President Dan Burke said it was expected to re-open Thursday morning.
Burke said money was stolen, but the amount was not clear.
He said staff members who were in the bank were shaken up.
“The important thing is no one was hurt,” Burke said. “It sounds like they did what they were trained to do.”
The bank occupies the first floor of the building, with offices on the upper floors. The offices were not affected by the holdup and remained open later Wednesday.
“The parking lot was packed. It was very busy at that time, and there were construction workers outside,” Burke said.
Police interviewed the construction crews to see if they could provide any additional details, Casertino said.
State Police, South Glens Falls Police and Warren County sheriff’s officers are assisting with the investigation.
Numerous schools in the area were put on lockout or lockdown Wednesday afternoon as the police investigation continued.
Anyone with information in the case was asked to call Glens Falls Police at 518-761-3840.
The holdup was the first robbery of a Glens Falls bank in nearly 18 years. The last one occurred at the Glens Falls National Bank Branch on Glen Street in December 1999, when a man with what appeared to be a gun protruding from his pants waistband made off with about $2,500.
No arrest was made, but police suspected a man who was jailed for a spree of bank robberies in the Midwest was responsible for that holdup.
More information will be posted when it becomes available.
QUEENSBURY — The lawyer for the man accused of killing a Glens Falls woman and her 4-year-old daughter notified a judge this week that his client may pursue an “insanity” defense.
Bryan M. Redden was in Warren County Court on Wednesday as prosecutors sought a sample of his DNA to compare it to evidence seized by police in his case.
His lawyer, Martin McGuinness, consented to that request, telling Judge John Hall that prosecutors clearly had probable cause in the case, as evidenced by the indictment against Redden, that would legally compel him to give the sample.
“I don’t see a basis to object to their motion,” he told Hall.
McGuinness also notified the Warren County District Attorney’s Office in recent days that he may use “psychiatric” evidence on his client’s behalf.
McGuinness said after the hearing that a defense of “not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect” was being researched.
“That is one of the avenues that is being explored,” he said.
He would not elaborate, but a copy of the notice he filed indicated he may also pursue a defense that Redden was under the influence of an “extreme emotional disturbance” and had used cocaine and alcohol before the deaths.
If successful, an “insanity defense” would result in a jury finding that Redden was not guilty of the crimes because he lacked the capacity to know or appreciate either the nature and consequences of his actions or that they were wrong.
He would be confined to a secure mental institution indefinitely if found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
An extreme emotional disturbance defense, if successful, could result in the jury finding Redden committed manslaughter instead of murder.
Redden has suffered from bipolar disorder, “oppositional defiant disorder” and attention deficit and hyperactive disorder, and has been medicated for these conditions.
Redden, 21, had been living in Glens Falls at the time of the Aug. 11 killings of Crystal Riley, 33, and her 4-year-old daughter, Lilly Frasier, in their South Street, Glens Falls apartment. He is accused of killing them with a kitchen knife.
He was arrested hours after Riley and Frasier were found dead in their South Street apartment. He was found driving Riley’s car and confessed to numerous police officers after he was taken into custody and to at least two friends before his arrest.
He has pleaded not guilty to eight counts, including two counts each of first-degree murder and second-degree murder and numerous lesser charges in connection with the theft of Riley’s Toyota sport-utility vehicle, possession of a weapon and tampering with evidence in connection with disposing of the knife.
Redden told police he had used heroin beforehand, was “high” and “didn’t know what he was doing,” police said in court records.
Police said he and Riley had been involved in a romantic relationship for a period of time before the homicides.
Numerous loved ones of the victims were in court on Wednesday, and they had no comment on the developments as they left.
Redden, sporting a newly shaved head, did not speak during the hearing. He is being held in Warren County Jail without bail and faces up to life in prison without possibility of parole.
Trial in the case is set for Feb. 5.
MOREAU — The Town Board decided to cut SCA Tissue’s assessment nearly in half Tuesday, over vehement objections from South Glens Falls Mayor Harry Gutheil. He called the tax cut devastating.
“I just think my people have been sold down the river,” he said. “I can tell you, you’re doing a disservice to the people.”
The settlement calls for the main plant for SCA Tissue — now called Essity — to be reduced from an assessment of $25.5 million to $20 million this year, then to $17 million in 2018. From 2018 to 2021, it would be reduced from $17 million to $14 million, decreasing by million-dollar increments each year.
But it may not be a done deal yet. The South Glens Falls school board gets a vote as well, and schools Superintendent Mike Patton indicated he is uneasy with the settlement.
He noted that the appraiser hired by the town to appraise SCA Tissue had not completed his work before the settlement vote.
“That’s the challenge for the school board. When there’s been no appraisal, it’s hard for me and the board to have a recommendation,” he said.
He believes the settlement would cost the school district $800,000 in taxes over the course of five years. That is the equivalent of 1 percent of the total tax levy each year.
“It’s a pretty significant loss of revenue,” he said.
The board will vote on Dec. 18.
For the village, the settlement is even worse. Gutheil expects to lose $317,872 over the course of five years. That’s 4 percent of the village’s total tax levy each year.
In practical terms, it means the village needs to cut about $63,500 from its budget or raise taxes.
Gutheil isn’t giving up.
“I’m looking at my legal options right now,” he said.
But the cost to village and schools would be worse if the town went to court, town Supervisor-elect Todd Kusnierz said.
“If we go to court and we lose this case, on an assessment we all know we can’t maintain — all of us are not willing to put the village residents in that position,” he said.
He called a trial “risky” when Guthiel urged him to try to fight for a better deal.
“You’re OK with rolling the dice?” Kusnierz asked Gutheil in disbelief.
Gutheil said yes, noting his success when he went to trial on a big assessment case when he was town supervisor.
“I’m willing to work with you. I’ve been in the trenches,” Gutheil said.
But Kusnierz said settlement was the safest way to go.
“We do risk assessment and we do risk management,” he said. “We had significant exposure to the village with refunds.”
The village would have faced paying a possible tax refund of $225,000 plus interest, in addition to the loss of tax revenue, Kusnierz said.
“While this is not a perfect outcome, I think from the standpoint that for no one except for the school district to have to pay refunds, it’s a pretty good outcome,” he said. “We felt it was in the best interest of our community.”
The school district was at risk of paying a maximum of $650,000 in refunds. It’s not clear yet how much the district will have to pay, Patton said.
The lack of an appraisal did not deter the board from voting.
“We may not have a piece of paper, but we have had conversations with the appraiser,” said board member Gina LeClair.
Supervisor Gardner Congdon and Town Board member Bob Prendergast voted against the settlement, which passed by a vote of 3-2.
Congdon said the board should have brought Gutheil in from the start and should not have made any decisions without an appraisal.
Other board members and town attorney Karla Buettner said they could not give Gutheil all of the information on the case, because then it would become public under the Freedom of Information Law. Gutheil argued that they were wrong and even offered to sign a non-disclosure agreement, to no avail.
A reporter asked Buettner about that, noting that FOIL allows officials to withhold litigation strategy from the public and to withhold intra-agency documents, such as legal advice, shared between the Town Board and Village Board.
Buettner could not explain.
“I’m not familiar with that law,” she said of FOIL.
Contacted the day after the Town Board vote, Committee on Open Government Executive Director Bob Freeman confirmed that the Town Board could share litigation-related documents with the Village Board without making them public under FOIL.
QUEENSBURY — A proposed ban on single-use plastic shopping bags in Warren County has new life.
County supervisors shelved the idea last spring, as they awaited the results of a state task force analysis of the issue.
But with the task force recommendations still in the works, Glens Falls Supervisor Claudia Braymer rejuvenated talks Tuesday to have Warren County take the lead on a regional ban. Braymer chairs the county board’s Environmental Concerns and Real Property Committee.
Braymer originally proposed a resolution Tuesday that would have required “covered stores” to charge a 5-cent fee for each bag.
But after comments were made favoring an outright ban, the committee passed a resolution directing Braymer to put together new legislation that would bar the bags. The wording of a ban that takes effect in Suffolk County on Jan. 1 was circulated.
Braymer pointed out that comments at a public hearing earlier this year seemed to show that many residents who spoke wanted a choice on how to pack their groceries instead of being told what to do.
Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson strongly advocated for an outright ban and proposed a resolution directing the development of one. It passed the committee unanimously, 6-0.
Dickinson and Glens Falls 5th Ward Supervisor Matt MacDonald said an educational component is needed to convince shoppers to keep reusable bags in their vehicles for shopping trips.
The discussion turned to what uses would be banned: Would the law cover just grocery stores, or would clothing shops and convenience stores be affected as well?
Glens Falls 2nd Ward Supervisor Peter McDevitt said it is just a matter of time before the bags are banned everywhere.
“It’s coming. There’s going to be a ban and I have no problem with it,” he said.
The next step will be a review of the county law that would be put together for review by the committee and then by the full Board of Supervisors. No timetable was established.