Geraldine's Criminal Acts
Ok, so we all remember Geraldine "DeFeo" Gates was convicted of fraud, but that doesn't mean she hasn't been busy recently either. Seems as though the law has found her abusing animals and involved in other fraudulent activities. The first 5 media articles are concerning her animal abuse. The 6th article talks about how their abuse led to the closure of a local animal shelter. The last article deals with other fraudulent activities and then there are 3 message board posts from her where she is talking about her "dogs".
Wednesday, May 15, 2002
Dog owner pleads innocent
By Mark Boshnack
DEPOSIT -- The dogs confiscated this week by the town of Deposit will soon be adoptable in Sidney.
On Saturday, the dogs were seized by the Deposit animal control officer from the home of Gerald and Geraldine Gates and taken to the Delaware Valley Humane Society in Sidney because of claims of cruelty and being unlicensed.
Standing before Deposit Justice Wayne Aldridge, Gerald Gates, 45, agreed Tuesday night to let the town give the Sidney shelter the go-ahead to start placing the animals. In addition, Gates pleaded innocent to 69 counts of having an unlicensed dog and is scheduled to reappear on June 11 for further proceedings.
The custody order, which Sidney needs to start placing the dogs, will take several days to process, Aldridge said.
As Aldridge closed the proceedings, Gates, holding his hat, told him, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean for this to happen."
The dogs were taken by animal control officer George Zandt from the Gates home on Saturday after the town had received numerous complaints, said Deposit Supervisor Daniel Axtell. But he said Tuesday morning, the town would not press additional charges against Gates and his wife, Geraldine, if the dogs were removed from the residence. Axtell could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
After the court action, Gates, wearing a plaid shirt and jeans talked as tears welled in his eyes. He said, "I didn't have a choice," about signing away his rights to the dogs. But he said, "I want them to have homes."
Referring to local authorities he said, "they wanted to kill them, they won't let me have any back."
Neither Aldridge nor Assistant District Attorney Aaron Dean, who was present, knew what the penalty would be if Gates were found guilty. Gates did not have a lawyer representing him at the proceeding.
Speaking before the arraignment, Gates said, he worked six days a week for a local construction company to feed the animals. Repairs on the house were neglected because the couple spent the money on the dogs, said Geraldine, who said she was in her 50s.
Gates said he didn't know how many dogs he and his wife had until they were taken away.
Records show that 88 dogs were removed from the house. Shelter officials said Tuesday that confusion following the dogs arrival was responsible for estimates of up to 100 dogs. Five dogs were left with the couple.
As part of the agreement, Gates said he got to keep five dogs, provided they were spayed or neutered by June.
Talking at his home earlier with his wife nearby, Gates said, part of the problem was that the couple could not get help taking care of the dogs reproducing.
"We tried to take care of them (spaying or neutering) when they were puppies," he said, "but it didn't work out."
And after they were born and given a name, "it was impossible" to give them away, he said. "They are not just animals, they have a soul," he said.
Speaking of the dogs, he said, "they loved us," he said, "and I loved them."
But Gates said he wouldn't have any more dogs, which was part of the court agreement, because "I can't go through this again," he said.
Some of Gates' neighbors said they were glad the town was finally taking action against the couple. During the summers, Robert Briggs said, the smell from the house was unbearable. Also, he said the constant barking was disturbing.
Geraldine Gates said she has been living with her husband in the home for about 18 years. She said she didn't understand why the town took action now.
Sidney shelter President Julie Byrnes could not be reached for comment on the decision.
Wednesday, May 15, 2002
Report animal collectors
The Daily Star
When 88 dogs were rescued from a home in the town of Deposit on Sunday, it seemed apparent that we were dealing with a case of animal collector syndrome.
Who else would collect a menagerie of animals without enough sense to know when enough is enough?
A dog warden confiscated the dogs and puppies from a rural home on Beebe Hill Road in the town of Deposit. They were transported to Delaware Valley Humane Society in Sidney, where they will remain at least until they are examined by a veterinarian today.
The dogs were living in a two-story home with Gerald Gates and his wife. The animals apparently were being fed, according to the shelter, but were not spayed or neutered and were living in a build-up of feces and filth. In addition, some have medical problems including eye infections and tumors.
Several of the dogs were pregnant; in fact, the number of dogs in the case rose to near 90 on Monday when one of the dogs gave birth to puppies. By Tuesday afternoon the count was up to 93.
So far, the Gateses have not been charged with cruelty, only having unlicensed animals. Where's the outrage, whether moral or criminal?
It appeared the couple had a "good heart," said Julie Byrnes, president of the Sidney shelter. "They just got started and it got out of control."
Yes, victims of collector syndrome are like that. They can range from the well-meaning elderly lady who feeds all the neighborhood strays, but provides no veterinary care and has none spayed or neutered, to more drastic cases where dozens of animals are forced to live in rooms of filth.
A state Humane Association fact sheet lists some of the traits seen in so-called "animal addicts." Commonly such people exhibit a persecution complex, find ready alibis for their behavior, neglect their personal condition and that of their property and environment, are clever at attracting sympathy and have friends or "enablers" in their lives who facilitate the unhealthy continuation of their addictive conduct.
Another common characteristic is recidivism. Unless expert psychiatric care is obtained, collectors almost always return to old ways, even if convicted of cruelty to animals. But short of forcing such people into psychiatric treatment for their disorders, what can we do to keep them from repeating their animal-collecting lifestyles?
The local case of Anna Kiernan back in 1980s illustrates the difficulty. The elderly woman moved from community to community, setting up households full of critters. Despite cruelty convictions, her lifestyle continued unimpeded.
The other tragedy in collector cases is the effect on the shelters where the animals are taken. The Sidney shelter suddenly has about 100 extra dogs. Even assuming the shelter gets custody, how will so many be adopted before the sheer reality of the situation forces euthanizing of the unluckier ones?
In conclusion, all that can be reasonably asked is that those aware of possible collectors alert humane officials to neglect or abuse, even if the owner seems well-intentioned.
Monday, May 13, 2002
100 dogs taken from Deposit home
By Mark Boshnack
A Deposit dog warden confiscated 87 dogs and 13 puppies over the weekend from a rural home, but it's not clear what charges will be filed against the Beebe Hill Road couple who live there.
The animals, which included about five that were pregnant, were brought to the Delaware Valley Humane Society in Sidney, where they will remain at least until they are examined by a veterinarian on Wednesday, shelter officials said.
The Sidney shelter was already filled when animal control officer George Zandt brought in the dogs taken from the home, said Julie Byrnes, president of the shelter.
Byrnes said the dogs, which were not house-broken, lived in a two-story house with the couple.
They are mostly interbred, she said, but they don't look starved. In addition, some have medical problems including eye infections and tumors. They were not spayed or neutered.
It appeared the couple had a "good heart," Byrnes said. "They just got started and it got out of control."
"We were involved with the couple several years ago," she said, adding she had few details of the earlier case.
"We are very upset that this could happen again. These people have to be dealt with," Byrnes said.
It was unclear Sunday what charges will be brought against the dogs' owners, Gerald Gates and his wife, who authorities could not identify by name.
Shelter officials said the dogs were removed from the home on charges of animal cruelty and for being unlicensed. Dorothy Crawford, who manages the Sidney shelter, said Zandt's paperwork listed cruelty and being unlicensed as charges.
The Deposit Town Board will review the case today, officials said.
Animal cruelty charges can be issued at the discretion of the control officer, said town Supervisor Daniel Axtell.
Zandt said "charges are pending." But before tonight's meeting, he didn't want to talk about specific charges.
Zandt said the case is not before a local justice. Deposit Justice Douglas S. Card confirmed he hadn't heard of the case. Justice Wayne Aldridge did not return a phone call by Sunday night.
No one answered the telephone at the Gates home Sunday night.
The Sidney shelter plans to contact other agencies after the dogs are seen by the veterinarian for help in boarding the animals. Donations of food, cleaning supplies, bedding and other related items are being sought from the public to help with the situation, shelter officials said.
Axtell said the town became aware of the current problem when Zandt was asked to conduct a census of the dog population. Several unlicensed dogs turned up, he said, which uncovered the situation with Gates. He was directed to issue tickets for the unlicensed dogs.
Byrnes said the couple were left with about five older dogs that were spayed or neutered. She said authorities should take action so "they get all animals away from them so it doesn't happen again."
She said laws protecting dogs have improved in recent years. But, she said, they need to be enforced uniformly around the state to be effective.
87 Dogs Seized
87 Dogs Seized
87 new dogs are in the Delaware Valey Humane Society after being taken away from their home on Beebe Hill Road in Deposit. Human Society representatives say that since the dogs werenever spayed or neutered they ended up inbreeding through four generations. The dog warden arrived at Gerald Gates home expecting twenty to thirty unlicensed dogs, but found 87 with only ten licensed. The Town of Deposit has gotten calls for over four years from neighbors complaining of terrible smells, noise and barking. Society representatives say they hope to find families to adopt the dogs after Gates appears in court.
Tuesday, May 14, 2002
Calls come in for confiscated dogs; no charges yet
By Mark Boshnack
SIDNEY -- More than a dozen people called the Sidney animal shelter by Monday afternoon seeking to adopt one of the nearly 100 dogs seized for licensing and cruelty reasons from a Deposit home over the weekend, officials said.
Any such action is awaiting a decision by the Deposit Town Court, said Julie Byrnes president of the Delaware Valley Humane Society.
Court is regularly scheduled for today. No court officials could be reached Monday.
The shelter staff is doing "as good as can be expected" after 87 dogs and 13 puppies were taken from the home of Gerald Gates by animal control officer George Zandt, Byrnes said. The shelter is under contract with Deposit to take the animals, Byrnes said.
On Monday, two puppies were born at the shelter to one of the seized dogs. At least five more dogs are pregnant and could deliver shortly, shelter manager Dorothy Crawford said.
People have been generous with donations of such items as dog food and cleaning supplies, Byrnes said. She said she hopes contributions will continue.
Deposit Supervisor Daniel Axtell said Monday that Zandt took the action after the town had tried for years to have Gates and his wife clean up the property on Beebe Hill Road. Besides the old appliances and the like that littered the outside of the house, he said, "neighbors were complaining about the smell and noise of the dogs."
Axtell said, "the town board has been more then patient with them to clean it (the property) up."
He said the problem there is at least three years old. Byrnes said the shelter was contacted about what the couple was doing with animals in 1996.
When the problem first began, Axtell said, the couple had 15 dogs; but until Zandt removed the animals, nobody was aware how extensive the problem had become. Byrnes said the shelter was contacted about two weeks ago to expect 30 to 50 dogs in the case.
People such as the Gateses are known to animal officials as "collectors," because of the amount of dogs that they have, Byrnes said. "They think they are helping the animals, but they get carried away."
Byrnes said when she went to the Gates' house in 1996, with a previous shelter manager, to investigate an animal health issue, "you could smell the fecal material from the road," she said.
Phyllis Koch-Sheras, a psychologist with a practice in Charlottesville, Va., said Monday she wasn't familiar with the specific case.
But she said, "Sometimes people are lonely and want to fill up their lives with something meaningful."
If they are not "integrated" into the community, she said, they might have so many dogs because "it's like they've created their own community."
Nobody answered the telephone at the Gates' house on Beebe Road on Sunday or Monday.
Further, Axtell said the couple is not well-known, except relating to the long-running problem.
Byrnes said that the couple must have spent a lot of time with the animals because, unlike other cases she has seen, the dogs are socialized.
"They seem to love animals, but they don't know when to stop," she said.
Byrnes said when she met the Gates woman, whose name officials said they didn't know, in 1996 she referred to the dogs as "my babies."
After the dogs are seen by a veterinarian Wednesday, Byrnes said, she hopes that court will have decided to allow the adoption process to begin at the shelter.
The court gave the shelter temporary custody Monday in an order faxed there by Justice Wayne Aldridge, Byrnes said.
It would be a mistake to return any of the dogs to the couple because, she said, "they will do it (collecting) again if they are not watched."
Monday, May 20, 2002
Dog dispute shuts shelter
By Mark Boshnack
The Sidney shelter providing a temporary home to the scores of dogs seized in Deposit a week ago was closed to the public until further notice after a confrontation on Saturday, officials said Sunday.
Delaware Valley Humane Society President Julie Byrnes said the decision was made after several people, impatient with the way the adoption process was proceeding, disrupted shelter operations by bothering staff.
However, several people involved denied that characterization.
Kim Morris of Mount Upton said the group of about a half dozen people came only "to put pressure (on the shelter) to see why they aren't releasing dogs (to the public)."
Nearly 90 dogs were seized on May 11 from the home of Gerald and Geraldine Gates by town of Deposit animal control officer George Zandt, who brought the dogs to the Sidney shelter.
Legal authorization from the Deposit Court to begin adoptions was received Thursday. By Friday, of 11 puppies seized from the Gates home, all but one were adopted. After other shelters take some dogs, the rest are scheduled to be available for adoption June 1, said Byrnes.
But she said the protesters didn't understand "we have procedures to follow" in putting the animals up for adoption.
And time is needed to give the dogs medical attention and spay and neuter some of them, she added.
Anthony Balunas of Sidney Center, who was also at the shelter Saturday, said he was concerned because of the rain and cold temperatures this week. Many of the dogs from Deposit are being housed in various outdoor pens at the shelter.
But Byrnes said measures, including putting up tarps, have been taken to try to shelter the dogs from the elements.
"The situation is not good," Byrnes said, but steps have been taken to better house the dogs.
On Sunday Byrnes said area shelters have been contacted and are scheduled to take a number of the dogs from Sidney this week. Those remaining are scheduled to be available for public adoption. The shelter started to take information Saturday from people wanting to adopt a dog.
Shelters are given priority Byrnes said, because they are sure to spay or neuter the animals and give them appropriate medical attention.
Morris said she brought a veterinarian to the shelter Saturday willing to do a number of vaccinations, but Byrnes only allowed five.
Byrnes said only those dogs leaving the shelter were vaccinated.
"We are doing the best with a bad situation," she said.
She described the people who came to shelter Saturday as "animal-oriented" in their concerns.
In addition, Byrnes said, in dealing with the public, references have to be checked, which slows the process. This is done, she said, because "we don't want a repetition of the situation that brought the dogs here in the first place."
She said "we are not going to rush these animals from one mess to another."
Documents show Zandt charged Gates with cruelty and having unlicensed dogs. Gates pleaded innocent to more than 60 counts of unlicensed dogs on May 14 in Deposit Town Court. He is scheduled to reappear in June.
And money that has been donated to help the shelter in this situation, Byrnes said, will be used to improve the facility to make sure it is better prepared to deal with a similar emergency in the future.
Towns need to enforce their laws, she said, to make sure situations involving so many animals are avoided in the future.
Kurt Ospelt case will be moved outside Oswego County
by Carol Thompson
Oswego County Supreme Court Judge Robert Nicholson has recused himself from the case of county Deputy Highway Superintendent Kurt Ospelt, leaving the lawsuit to be placed in the hands of a judge in another county.
Ospelt has filed suit against the county for malicious prosecution, libel, and slander. District Attorney Dennis Hawthorne Sr., County Administrator John Tierney, and former legislator Earl Chesbro are also named as defendants in the case.
According to court papers filed in Ospelt's $1 million claim, he is hoping to prove during trial that for political reasons he was framed for following a 20-year old standing policy.
Ospelt was indicted by an Oswego County Grand Jury Dec. 15, 1999 for a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct for allowing a fellow employee to take some road grindings for personal use.
Past practice was to make it possible for anyone, including county employees, to have the road scrapings free of charge, delivered anywhere in the county by county employees. Ospelt was vindicated following a jury trial, in part because the jury found there was lack of any written policy disallowing the practice.
Ospelt's lawsuit alleges that he became a political target after his father, Legislator Art Ospelt, had a falling out with prominent Republican H. Douglas Barclay of Pulaski.
The suit claims that Ospelt was deliberately targeted during the grindings investigation because of his father's political standing. The elder Ospelt was the former county administrator. He resigned in 1996 and opposed Chesbro in the 1997 race for the District 12 legislative seat.
After losing the Republican primary to Chesbro, Art Ospelt was given a notarized letter signed by Chesbro stating that he would not do anything retaliatory to the Ospelt family. The letter was written, court papers claim, to coerce Ospelt from running in the general election on other party lines, hence, taking him out of the race for the District 12 seat.
The letter, which has a strong bearing in the case, was notarized by Schroeppel tax collector Geraldine Gates. Both are expected to be subpoenaed for depositions by Ospelt's attorney, Ciano Lama.
Chesbro won the seat that year and Ospelt went on to defeat him in the 1999 election. Oseplt has sat in the minority caucus since that time.
Ospelt's case outlines the events as he believes they occurred, and implicates several others, including other legislators.
Ospelt said he is not suing his employer for the money, but to clear his family name. He is hoping to use evidence uncovered by private investigators he had hired during his criminal trial that point to the possibility some legislators used the grindings giveaway practice for political and possibly even financial gain.
The practice of giving away the grindings continues to be a problem for the county, even after a written policy was adopted placing limitations on them.
The county has yet to respond to the allegations made in Ospelt's suit. The attorney for the county, James Evans, has asked the court to dismiss the case, claiming it is "frivolous."
Art Ospelt said it is possible Nicholson recused himself from the case because he was once a family friend.
Kurt Ospelt said he was pleased that his case would be heard outside of Oswego County.
The case has yet to be assigned to a new court. Evans could not be reached for comment.
From: Geraldine Gates
To: "Amityville fan"
Date: Fri, 3 May 2002 19:34:11
will send other email later tonight
My white shepherd had heart attack last night and died
Jerry is upset she was his dog more than mine, so thing's have been sad around my house.
She was sick yesterday and had to take her to vet, nothing could be done
So brought her home to die
From: Geraldine Gates
Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 20:23:03 EST
To: "Amityville fan"
Have you been watching the boards?
They all make me sick, like a bunch of little kids.
If Ric is full of crap the people will find out when they get to read the book.
Ric has my divorce papers and a copy of my power of attorney from the Defeo .
My fingerprinted I D that he took to the police and sheriff who ran it through and wrote certified stamped proof it is real and so am i.
And number one proof I am real the Defeo /Brigante Attorney.
He would never write a book that could wind him up in jail lol
What do they want him to tell the whole book on the board?
I really am sick of it all now.
OH why even talk no one listens or believes so what is the use I can argue with my dogs and make more progress.
From: Geraldine Gates
Date: Mon, 6 May 2002 12:11:07
To: "Amityville fan"
I have been so upset over our dog I lost your other email.
Can you please send again with your questions and I will answer.
I married Jerry but it is not legal............i am divorcing Butch for real now.
It is for the best he said he has a girl friend and would like to get married again.
I hope if he does this new one can stand him and it works out.