MILTON — A Hudson Falls man who is in jail on a rape charge was arrested Wednesday for allegedly plotting to kill a witness in the case, police said.
Kyle M. Shultz, 19, was charged with second-degree conspiracy, a felony, in connection with allegations that he had been plotting with another person while in Saratoga County Jail to have a potential witness killed, according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that Shultz had been “taking steps to plan the murder of a person familiar to him who could be called as a witness in the case pending against him.”
Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said investigators received information about the purported plot 4 to 6 weeks ago. He would not say what the plan entailed or whether the rape victim was the intended target because of the pending prosecution.
“It was in the preliminary stages,” he said of the planning. “Once we got information about it we took steps to make sure everybody was protected.”
Police said no additional arrests were expected.
Shultz had been charged with first-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse, second-degree robbery, fourth-degree grand larceny and misdemeanor assault for a May 16 attack on a woman he and a co-defendant met on a street in Hudson Falls. He had also been accused of assaulting two guards in the county jail last July.
According to the Saratoga County Court Clerk’s Office, Shultz pleaded guilty to first-degree rape earlier this year and is scheduled to be sentenced April 27.
He and co-defendant Dylan E. Kelly, 21, are accused of forcibly raping a woman and stealing her wallet during an attack in a remote area off Ferry Boulevard near the hamlet of Fenimore, just across the Hudson River from Hudson Falls.
Police said the two didn’t know the woman, but stopped to talk to her when seeing her walking along a street in Hudson Falls around 3 a.m. that day and the trio agreed to “hang out” after they got beer.
Kelly has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial before Saratoga County Judge James Murphy on April 30.
Shultz was arraigned on the conspiracy count and returned to Saratoga County Jail.
He and Kelly have pleaded not guilty in Saratoga County Court, but the status of the cases against them was unclear Wednesday afternoon.
Shultz agreed to a plea deal that includes a 16-year sentence on the rape and jail assault charges, and he could face an additional 25 years on the conspiracy charge if convicted.
GRANVILLE — There’s no mistaking the palpable intensity of Dylan Ratigan.
No mistaking how acutely aware he is of what he calls “a broken U.S. political system;” no mistaking his 100 percent certainty that reform is possible and that reforming politics is the first step toward jobs and thriving communities.
“There is a huge groundswell from the people,” said NY-21 Democratic congressional candidate Ratigan, a Saranac Lake native who lives in Lake Placid. “One person cannot change things. It will take all of us together.”
On Saturday, Ratigan listened to local residents’ concerns and shared his ideas and thoughts with a living room full of people interested in learning more about his views during a private event at a home in Granville.
“I believe in the well-being of the world, and there was a feeling in my gut that said something’s not right, and it wouldn’t go away,” he said in an interview after the gathering. “I believe our liberty and our planet are at stake right now and this is an opportunity to bring a broader voice for reform. … I felt I had no choice but to declare my candidacy.”
Still, Ratigan does not blame any political party or even President Donald Trump. He said the political system has been broken for a long time.
“Donald Trump is just the latest symptom,” he said. “One of the biggest issues in the district is the health system and opioids. And there is no bigger indicator of a broken system than pharmaceutical companies; after decades of debate, it is no better.”
When Ratigan, perhaps best known for hosting “The Dylan Ratigan Show” on MSNBC, first announced in February his decision to join an already crowded pool of Democratic challengers, two candidates — Sara Idleman from Greenwich and Tanya Boone from Granville — announced they were withdrawing from the race.
Idleman, who dropped out during a candidate “Meet and Greet” hosted by the Fulton County Democratic Committee at the Holiday Inn in Johnstown, said her decision was directly related to Ratigan’s entry in the race.
“I have been giving it a lot of hard thought. With the new candidate running, we have sold out to money before and we are doing that again,” Idleman said in a phone interview, referring to Ratigan. “I’ve seen this movie before, and the person chosen is the person with the biggest pocketbook.”
Democratic candidate Ron Kim, of Queensbury, also left the race earlier this month.
“I believe my continued efforts will only assist the current incumbent,” Kim said in a phone interview at the time he withdrew. “In the end, the changes in the race in the last three to four weeks made it very unlikely I would come out the winner.”
But even with several departures, nine challengers remain, all hoping to unseat Rep. Elise Stafanik, R-Willsboro, in the November midterm election. They include Ratigan and Democrats Don Boyajian, Cambridge; Tedra Cobb, Canton; Emily Martz, Saranac Lake; David Mastrianni, Schroon Lake; Patrick Nelson, Stillwater; and Katie Wilson, Keene. Green Party candidate Lynn Kahn, Schroon Lake, and Republican Russ Finley, Lisbon, are also running.
Saturday’s Washington County tour was the third time Ratigan visited the county since declaring his candidacy in February. And like most candidates currently scrambling to get the required 1,250 federal designating petition signatures from a pool of 122,000 registered Democrats in the district before the second week of April, Ratigan’s days are long.
“We work three days a day (packing several days into one),” he said. “From 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. we’re on the phones, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (and sometimes 11 p.m.), we’re on the road, and from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., we’re back on the phones.”
Such rigors were necessary for the launch, he said.
“But we are transitioning to two days a day to settle in for the biggest political summer of our lives,” he added.
And Ratigan is determined to correct what he says has been a betrayal of all he believed about America.
He talks about his grandfather, who immigrated to America from Hungary, and about (on his father’s side) a centuries-old legacy rooted in North Country soil.
“Willsboro and Elizabethtown are named for my ancestors,” he said. “America was fair, and I believed that. What has happened is a betrayal of my perception of fairness.”
He started witnessing this betrayal during his 10 years of working for Bloomberg, he said.
“I learned a lot about money, and the 2008 financial crisis was the greatest cover-up in history,” he said, referring to the banking industry.
His work at Bloomberg eventually led Ratigan to his position at MSNBC, where he learned about Congress and its inner workings, he said.
“MSNBC gave me direct access,” he said, adding how valuable it was getting to know the members of Congress. ”I have the backbone and expertise in money, economics and political corruption. I am unintimidatable.”
Warren County leaders are hoping to declare the opioid crisis a “public nuisance” to assist their efforts to recoup county money spent responding to it.
County supervisors this week took the first step to enact a county law as part of the county’s litigation against the companies and people that made, marketed and distributed opioid painkillers that have been blamed for starting the opioid addiction epidemic. It claims they “created a public health and safety hazard.”
The public will be given a chance to comment on the issue during a public hearing at the May 18 meeting of the county Board of Supervisors.
The law, which would specify that the county has incurred costs through police, emergency medical services response, social and public health programs and other services to respond to opioid addiction and assist addicts, calls the issue “one of the greatest challenges facing the county.”
“Manufacturers of prescription opioids and those in the chain of distribution have wrongfully abused the privilege of selling and/or providing medication to our residents and must be held accountable,” the proposed law reads.
The statute would give the county the authority to “recover the costs of governmental functions related to opioids marketed, sold, manufactured, dispensed, prescribed and/or distributed by the responsible party.”
County Attorney Mary Kissane said the law is being sought as part of the process for the county’s opioid lawsuit. The litigation was filed late last month in state Supreme Court in Warren County.
The 260-page lawsuit names 26 defendants but does not seek a specific amount of damages. It is similar to litigation filed by municipalities around the country seeking damages for their opioid-related costs that have been passed on to taxpayers.
Kissane said part of the litigation process will include gauging the losses by different county agencies.
“They are looking into recovering the resources the county spent, looking into damages with each particular agency,” Kissane said.
Prescription painkillers have been blamed for getting many hooked on opioids, resulting in addicts transitioning to illegal heroin and fentanyl, overdosing and committing crimes to support their habit.
The county board’s Legislative & Rules Committee unanimously passed the proposed law on to the full Board of Supervisors.
More drivers were charged with drunken and impaired driving in the region last year than the year before, bucking a years-long state and national trend that has resulted in decreasing numbers of driving while intoxicated cases.
Warren County officials reported the most sizable increase, with DWI and driving while ability impaired-related tickets rising nearly 30 percent last year. Washington and Saratoga counties also saw increases, with the 2017 figure still expected to grow slightly.
Warren County STOP-DWI Coordinator Patti Miller briefed county supervisors and law enforcement on the increase this week, which comes as revenue from DWI fines has resulted in less funding for the STOP-DWI program. Revenue from fines has dropped from $241,739 in 2009 to $154,284 last year.
Over the past decade, DWI arrests statewide have dropped nearly 40 percent, she said. That figure does not include arrests for driving under the influence of drugs, which have increased as police have become better trained to detect it.
Washington County saw a 16 percent jump. County Undersheriff John Winchell, the county’s STOP-DWI coordinator, said the reason for the increase is unclear.
But the former Glens Falls Police sergeant, who was given a state award for DWI enforcement in 2001, said he has noticed some other disturbing trends in DWI enforcement in his county.
“We are seeing a lot more repeat offenders and a lot of Leandra’s Law violations,” Winchell said.
Leandra’s Law made it a felony to drive drunk with a child in the vehicle.
Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said he has noticed the same trend, reviewing case files in recent days for DWI defendants who had blood alcohol contents of 0.28 percent and 0.19 percent.
“We are seeing a lot of high BACs,” he said.
The 2017 arrest statistics will likely increase, as Winchell and Jordan said police agencies sometimes have to wait for blood test results to come back before filing charges. So cases that began in 2017 with a blood sample being taken may not result in an arrest until this year.
Saratoga County had 9 percent more arrests last year, and county STOP-DWI Coordinator Wes Carr said he plans to look through the county’s arrest data, looking for trends within it that might show where additional arrests occurred.
Miller’s annual report to the Warren County Traffic Safety Board includes a number of statistical breakdowns of DWI arrests in the county, showing that Queensbury roads had the most DWI crashes in the county, with the months of June and January having the highest number and the period of time between noon and 6 p.m. being when the most occurred.
Saturday was the day that the most crashes and DWI arrests occurred, with 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. the time of reckoning for drunken drivers. Drivers age 21-30 were the most targeted in Warren County in 2017, while men were on the receiving end of 71 percent of the arrests.
DWI, DWAI arrests by county
Source: County STOP-DWI officials
County 2017 2016
Warren 417 403
Washington 265 229
Saratoga 1,171 1,073