Friday, August 7, 2020

Obituary: Erica Joy Breuer, 42, formerly of Fillmore

Fort Worth, Texas --- Erica Joy Breuer, age 42, formerly of Fillmore, passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 2, 2020 in her home.  She was born September 21, 1977 in Warsaw, a daughter of William and Kathleen Pender Breuer.
Erica was a member of the 1995 graduating class at Fillmore Central School having received both a Regents degree and a degree in graphic arts from BOCES.  She was the recipient of a full 2 year scholarship to the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale where she earned an Associate Degree in Interior Design.  She continued her education at the International Academy of Art and Design in Tampa, FL where she received her B.A. in Interior Design with honors.   Her internships in design included work with a private designer in St. Petersburg, FL. and with Ethan Allen Interiors in Rochester.
Erica loved her family and friends.  She was an avid artist creating many paintings and designing interiors.  She enjoyed the music of Fleetwood Mac and Lynynd Skynyrd, was a lifelong Democrat and a champion for social justice.
Surviving in addition to her loving parents are her twin daughters who were her life- Alexis Noelle and Ava Lillian both of Fillmore. She will be missed dearly by her brother, Andrew (Deanna) Breuer of Charlotte, N.C., her niece, Alisa and nephew Dylan.  Grieving her loss are also aunts and uncles Les (Kim) Breuer of Canandaigua, Kevin (Krista) Kretchmer of Stafford, Peg (David) Bull of Ormond Beach, Florida and many cousins, second cousins, her companion Curtis Wait of Fort Worth, TX and her lifelong friends Laura Brooks and Lynlee Van Wicklin.   
A private memorial of remembrance will be held on a date to be determined by the family. May our dear Erica rest in peace.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Kopler-Williams Funeral Home, 21 N. Genesee Street, Fillmore.
Memorials if desired to: Wide Awake Club Library, P.O. Box 199, Fillmore, N.Y. 14735 or to the Ronald McDonald House of your choosing.

New York schools can reopen in-person classes

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the green light Friday to reopen New York's 750 school districts in person this fall -- a data-driven decision that mirrors the threshold-based calls he made on the phased economic reopenings for the state's 10 regions. But this decision is different. Cuomo says it's ultimately not up to him.
"Parents have to be included and believe the plan makes sense. Teachers have to be included and believe the plan makes sense. They are the ultimate determination," Cuomo said this week. "If a teacher doesn't show up, you can't open the class. If a parent doesn't send their child there's no child to educate."
The state still has to sign off on each of New York's 749 school districts' individual plans; if it doesn't, those districts don't reopen in September. Of those 749 districts, 127 have yet to submit plans for the 2020-21 school year, Cuomo said. Of the ones that have, about 50 have been deemed insufficient. The state Department of Health will review the individual school plans over the weekend and notify districts where it finds them incomplete, he said.
The governor's decision on reopening school districts relies solely on the seven-day rolling average positive test rate for the region where each is located. The threshold for the initial green light he gave Friday was 5 percent. If positivity rates tick above 9 percent in a given region going forward, the district -- and all the schools within it -- will have to close. New York's statewide seven-day average has consistently been at 1 percent for a month. So too has New York City's.
That said, Cuomo says there's more to the schools equation than the viral transmission rate. All he does is set the floor. Parents and teachers make the call --- and many have serious concerns about whether school plans work for them.
Simply telling parents their district is in a low infection rate region won't necessarily make them feel comfortable sending their kids to school, Cuomo has said. He says parents need to be included in the specific conversations now. In some spots, parents may prefer remote learning. Many prefer in-person school -- and a fuller week than blended learning would permit. But even those parents may hesitate on safety issues -- and they wonder what it could mean for their jobs and their kids' educations if schools have to shut down again, Cuomo says.
His office fields hundreds of calls on the schools issue, the governor says, so he's familiar with parents' concerns. What happens if my child tests positive? What happens if another child or a teacher test positive? How will we know? What about asymptomatic spread? Does testing require parental permission? Where are the testing facilities and how will the test and trace process work?
Certain protocols are required statewide. Every person in school must wear a mask when social distancing isn't possible, for example. See the state Department of Education's complete guidelines here. While the governor has outlined core standards, much of the planning is up to the individual districts.
Cuomo says he'll ask every school district to post their testing and contact tracing plans online. He also wants full remote learning plans posted, citing concern he's heard from parents and educators about demographic inequities in that regard. (New York City gave iPads to kids in need in March and will do the same in fall.)
The governor also wants each of the five major school districts, including New York City, home to the largest public school district in the nation with more than 1.1 million students, to hold at least five online parent information sessions by Aug. 21. He wants at least one set up to focus on teachers as well -- because without the buy-in of these stakeholders, he says reopening is irrelevant.
"They're watching what's happening across the country," Cuomo said of parents. "They're watching what these other school districts are doing. They're watching outbreaks when school is open. They have serious concerns. And they should."
Wellsville plan:
The school district has submitted its re-opening plan to the NY State  Education Department.  The link to the full plan can be found on our website homepage or by following the  link here.  Specific information regarding the hybrid schedule for the Secondary School can be found on our website and by following the second link here.  The Secondary School schedule reflects a new change since the Monday public Zoom meeting.  6th grade will now have a remote learning day on Wednesday each week with in-school attendance for the remainder of the week.  The Grades 7-12 remote learning day has also been moved to Wednesday.

Birdseye view village of Wellsville

Cyrco Construction of Bolivar, New York offers Birdseye view of Village of Wellsville while working on a church on Madison Street.

Giving Back: Allegany Arc achieves Premier Blood Partner status

WELLSVILE, NY – Allegany Arc has been recognized by the American Red Cross as one of its Premier Blood Partners for 2020, a prestigious honor, for its support of the community and national blood supply.

The Premier Blood Partners program recognizes the Red Cross’s most impactful Blood Program Leaders – those collecting 50 units or more per year, with an average blood drive size of 30 units or more. During 2019 and 2020, Allegany Arc helped the Red Cross collect 131 units of blood as part of its deep-rooted commitment to help save lives of patients facing illnesses and injuries in this community and across the country.
“Allegany Arc is proud to be a part of the Red Cross’s mission that helps ensure lifesaving blood is available for hospital patients in need,” said Chris Koehler, Senior Vice President of Business Operations for Allegany Arc. “Our organization shares that same humanitarian value to help our neighbors, and we are grateful for the opportunity to host blood drives that will do just that here in our community.”
Every day, volunteer blood and platelet donors across the country are needed to help save lives. Blood and platelets are needed for accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease, according to the Red Cross.
Allegany Arc will hold their Winter Blood Drive on Friday, January 8, 2021 at the Wellsville Bible Church. Visit to make an appointment.

NYSUT poll: 81 percent of union members say health and safety should drive school reopening

ALBANY, N.Y. — Eighty-one percent of New York school staff members say the health and safety of students and staff should be the deciding factor in reopening schools, according to a poll of New York State United Teachers members released today.
In fact, 50 percent of NYSUT members say they are reluctant or unwilling to go back to in-person instruction this fall amid ongoing concerns over the health and safety of reopening school buildings. Of those who say they are not ready, their overwhelming concerns are their personal safety, the safety of their students and the safety of their colleagues.
Results of the poll can be found here.
Many local unions across New York this week have expressed a lack of confidence in the reopening plans submitted by school districts to the state. Given the concern, NYSUT strongly recommends that the state enable and encourage those districts to implement a phased-in approach to reopening school buildings, working with parents and local unions, to continue addressing these health and safety concerns.
“While there may not be a one-size-fits-all approach to reopening, NYSUT members have made clear that health and safety needs to drive the decision,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “We know there are some districts that developed plans by listening to the concerns of educators and others who developed flawed plans that ignore legitimate health and safety needs. At the end of the day, educators, students and parents must be able to trust the decisions made. Simply put: We must continue using the time between now and September to get this right for each community together. No district should consider themselves ready to reopen until their plans are safe and fully implemented.”
When it comes to safety measures in schools, 81 percent of NYSUT members are in favor of requiring that students wear masks at all times while in school buildings. State guidance encourages the wearing of masks at all times while in a school building. While many district plans are taking this seriously, too many district plans allow for masks to be removed for large portions of the school day, putting everyone at risk.
Among other issues the poll identified is the pandemic-related need for childcare for thousands of educators and school staff members, just as this issue is a budding crisis for all parents, regardless of what industry they work in. At issue is the likelihood of differences in the reopening plans between school districts some NYSUT members work in and the districts their children attend. 
To make a return to the classroom possible, 32 percent of NYSUT members say they will need childcare, with 78 percent of those members saying they are concerned about finding affordable childcare. Childcare needs are greatest among members younger than 40. Forty-three percent of those members say they will need childcare if asked to return to school in person. 
Finally, the poll also shows that 55 percent of teachers age 55 or older are considering early retirement as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. 
“Planning for reopening means addressing a childcare crisis before it overwhelms us and making every effort to address the concerns of those who feel leaving education altogether is their best option given the current path we’re on,” Pallotta said. “Particularly in the midst of a teacher shortage, we can’t allow this pandemic to force highly trained, experienced educators into a corner. Whether it’s seeking greater clarity from the state or accommodations from districts, our work continues.”
Hart Research Associates conducted an online poll of 1,118 NYSUT members working in K-12 schools outside of New York City. The margin of error is +/- 3 percent.

Steuben Sheriff responds to transgender lawsuit and settlement

A joint statement from Steuben County and the Steuben County Sheriff in response to the recent media report regarding the settlement of a suit filed by Jena Faith.

From April until May, 2018, Jena Faith was incarcerated in the Steuben County Jail.  Ms. Faith was housed in accordance with all NYS Commission of Corrections standards and regulations, and in accordance with the direction of the medical unit after examination.  Upon the filing of the suit by Ms. Faith, an investigation occurred by the Sheriff’s Office in which it was determined that a large gap exists between NYS regulations and standards and federal regulations and standards concerning the housing of members of the transgender community. In order to ensure that all citizen rights are met and that we meet the public safety needs of all of our inmates, the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office began a process of initiating a groundbreaking policy which recognizes the needs of transgender, intersex, gender non-binary, and gender nonconforming people in custody.  This policy resulted from the collaborative work of the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Sheriff’s Association, New York State Jail Administrators and the NYCLU. 

“I am extremely proud of our corrections staff who recognized that conducting business only in strict accordance with the NYS Minimum Standards of County Jails and Lockups is sometimes not enough.  When the NYS guidance falls short, it is up to all of us to search for other methods to meet the needs of all citizens” stated Sheriff Allard.  “I am grateful to all of the contributors who helped create this policy and grateful that Steuben County was able to lead the way”.

“Steuben County, along with the Sheriff’s Office, have a long history of maintaining high standards for all operations,” said County Manager Jack Wheeler.  “This requires continuous review of policies and practices of all departments to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations, resulting in high-quality services our residents and stakeholders expect and deserve.”

Obituary: Floyd R. Pearsall, 80, Addison

Floyd R. Pearsall, 80, of Grove St. Addison, NY, passed away at his home on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.
Floyd was born in Corning, NY on January 29, 1940, a son of the late Roy and Mary Alta (Middaugh) Pearsall. As a youngster, Floyd’s family resided in Gang Mills. They eventually settled on Hardscrabble Road in Addison when Floyd was 13. He attended high school in Addison where he was a 1959 graduate.
Following high school, Floyd ventured into farming for a couple of years. He then enlisted in the US Army, serving from January 1962 until July 1963, with over a year of his service in Laos and Vietnam.
On August 28, 1964, Floyd married the former Doreen C. Brown in Rochester, NY.
Floyd and Doreen settled in Arizona where he made a career with Mountain Bell in Tucson, Arizona holding various positions. They were avid bird watchers and would often plan trips around places noted for bird watching. He was also a talented photographer and frequently shot professional photography at weddings.
Floyd had enjoyed sport shooting and was an excellent skeet and trap shooter. Playing cards was a major pastime for Floyd, be it euchre with family and friends or poker with his fellow retirees from Bell. He loved western movies and TV shows and had a huge DVD collection of classic westerns. He enjoyed watching the activity of Apple stock, which he began acquiring at its infancy.
Floyd’s greatest pleasures came from relationships with his family and friends. His nieces and nephews adored him and he was a wonderful husband, father and brother. He always brought cheer and happiness with him in every encounter with others. Floyd’s positive view of the world could serve as a life lesson for all. He will be missed.
Floyd is survived by his son and his partner, Cary Pearsall and Mary Ann Fisher of Saint Albans, Vermont, his brother, Edward (Donna) Pearsall of Addison, his sister, Elaine Antonio of Painted Post along with many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Roy and Mary Alta Pearsall, his wife, Doreen Pearsall and his brothers, Earl Pearsall, Charles Pearsall, Ralph Pearsall and Kenneth Pearsall.
Following the passing of his wife Doreen, Floyd returned to Addison in 2018 to be nearer to his family.
It was Floyd’s wishes that there will be no formal services.

Obituary: Chasyn Lynch, 10, Almond

Chasyn Lynch of Almond passed away unexpectedly Sunday, August 2nd. Chasyn was born May 21, 2010 at St. James. He attended both Alfred Almond and Arkport schools.

Chase was born with Cerebral Palsy and Bilateral Schizencephaly. Despite his challenges Chase always overcame his obstacles with strength, determination, and attitude. He will always be known for his humor, usually on the mischievous side.

Chase loved spending time with his brothers and family. He loved music and dancing. He also was an animal lover. He enjoyed trips to the lake and boat rides. Chase was very social and loved being around other kids. He made friends with everyone he met. He loved making people laugh. Chase brightened the lives of everyone who got the pleasure of knowing him.

Chase is survived by his mother and stepfather Ashley (Jeff) Carl of Almond. His brothers Jakolbey, Bryton, and Rhyatt. His father Joseph Lynch of Wellsville. His maternal grandmother Christina Dobson. His maternal great grandmother Judith Grantier. His maternal great great aunt Pamela Sniffen. His uncle Daniel (Colleen McIntyre) Dobson. His paternal grandparents Darcy (Dean) Geffers. His aunt Desarae Currier. His paternal great great grandmother Joanne Grover. Family friend Britney Kessler.  Many other beloved aunts, uncles, and cousins.

He is predeceased by his maternal great grandfather Karl Grantier and his maternal grandfather Jeff Grantier.

We would also like to thank all of the incredible therapists, teachers, aides, and staff that have worked with Chase throughout the years.

To send a remembrance to the family, please visit or on Facebook @brownpowersfh. The family is being assisted by director Gerald R. Brown.

There will be no calling hours or services at this time.

Allegany County COVID-19 update

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Welcome back: ASC students begin arriving on campus

With in-person instruction set to resume for all students in just a few weeks, Alfred State College (ASC) has recently begun welcoming some Pioneers back to campus. 
The first round of students arrived this past weekend to complete lab work required for spring 2020 semester courses. The next group of students who need to return to campus to complete hands-on spring course work will arrive before Aug. 10, with the rest of the residential students arriving before the start of classes on Monday, Aug. 24.
Alfred State President Dr. Skip Sullivan said, “It is great seeing students back on campus, and I’m happy to report that the move-in process has gone very smoothly so far. It’s heart-warming to hear many of the students expressing their joy for returning to school after months at home.”
All students are required to self-quarantine for seven days prior to arriving on campus. Students from states that must quarantine for a longer period are instructed to arrive early and stay in quarantine on campus.
All residential students are supplied directions for when to arrive on campus. This ensures an orderly flow of arrivals and decreases any delays in the process. A video shows the screening process for arriving residential students at This quick process involves answering a few questions and submitting to a temperature screening. 
After checking into the residence halls, students will complete a daily COVID-19 screening through a smartphone app. This screening will be required of commuter students, faculty, and staff, as well.
The operation of campus and access to facilities have changed due to COVID-19. Through Sunday, Aug. 23 all traffic on campus is limited to using the main entrance by the traffic light. This helps to funnel residential students through the screening process. Outdoor athletic facilities are available from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. seven days a week for fitness activities. These areas are restricted for use only by ASC students, faculty, and staff in order to control crowd sizes.
From academics to residence halls and food service, the entire college has been working hard to prepare for students’ arrival. Social distancing has been made mandatory on campus. When closer than 6 feet outdoors and when inside all non-residential buildings, face covers are required for all students and employees.
ACES is currently operating food service at The Terrace and Alfie’s at the Central Dining Hall and offering lunch at The Rig for students attending Wellsville classes. Dining hours of operation are available online at
For more information about Alfred State’s plan to reopen for the fall semester, visit

NY: Attorney General James Files Lawsuit to Dissolve NRA

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA), the largest and most influential pro-gun organization in the nation. Attorney General James charges the organization with illegal conduct because of their diversion of millions of dollars away from the charitable mission of the organization for personal use by senior leadership, awarding contracts to the financial gain of close associates and family, and appearing to dole out lucrative no-show contracts to former employees in order to buy their silence and continued loyalty. The suit specifically charges the NRA as a whole, as well as Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre, former Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Wilson “Woody” Phillips, former Chief of Staff and the Executive Director of General Operations Joshua Powell, and Corporate Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer with failing to manage the NRA’s funds and failing to follow numerous state and federal laws, contributing to the loss of more than $64 million in just three years for the NRA.
In the complaint, Attorney General James lays out dozens of examples where the four individual defendants failed to fulfill their fiduciary duty to the NRA and used millions upon millions from NRA reserves for personal use, including trips for them and their families to the Bahamas, private jets, expensive meals, and other private travel. In addition to shuttering the NRA’s doors, Attorney General James seeks to recoup millions in lost assets and to stop the four individual defendants from serving on the board of any not-for-profit charitable organization in the state of New York again.
“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” said Attorney General James. “The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law.”
Since 1871, the NRA has operated as a New York-registered 501(c)(4) not-for-profit, charitable corporation. Under state law not-for-profit, charitable corporations are required to register and file annual financial reports with the Charities Bureau in the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The assets are required to be used in a way that serves the interests of NRA membership and that advance the organization’s charitable mission. However, as today’s complaint lays out, the NRA is alleged to have fostered a culture of noncompliance and disregard for internal controls that led to the waste and loss of millions in assets and contributed to the NRA reaching its current deteriorated financial state. The NRA’s internal policies were repeatedly not followed and were even blatantly ignored by senior leaders. Furthermore, the NRA board’s audit committee was negligent in its duty to ensure appropriate, competent, and judicious stewardship of assets by NRA leadership. Specifically, the committee failed to assure standard fiscal controls, failed to respond adequately to whistleblowers, affirmatively took steps to conceal the nature and scope of whistleblower concerns from external auditors, and failed to review potential conflicts of interest for employees.
NRA’s Culture of Self-Dealing, Mismanagement, and Negligence
The lawsuit alleges that the four men instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligent oversight at the NRA that was illegal, oppressive, and fraudulent. They overrode and evaded internal controls to allow themselves, their families, favored board members, employees, and vendors to benefit through reimbursed expenses, related party transactions, excess compensation, side deals, and waste of charitable assets without regard to the NRA’s best interests.
When board members challenged LaPierre and others over their financial governance and leadership of the NRA, LaPierre retaliated and turned the board against those who attempted to challenge the illegal behavior.
The complaint lays out numerous other instances in which LaPierre, Phillips, Powell, Frazer, and other executives and board members at the NRA abused their power and illegally diverted or facilitated the diversion of tens of millions of dollars from the NRA. These funds were in addition to millions of dollars the four individual defendants were already receiving in grossly excessive salaries and bonuses that were not in line with the best practices and prudent standards for evaluating and determining compensation.
Wayne LaPierre – Executive Vice-President
In his nearly three decades as executive vice-president, Wayne LaPierre ran the day-to-day operations of the NRA and exploited the organization for his and his family’s financial benefit, and the benefit of a close circle of NRA staff, board members, and vendors. Of note, LaPierre:
  • Spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of the NRA’s charitable assets for private plane trips for himself and his family, including extended family when he was not present.
  • Visited the Bahamas by private air charter at least eight times in an approximate three-year period with his family, at a cost of more than $500,000 to the NRA. On many of those trips, LaPierre and his family were gifted the use of a 107-foot yacht owned by an NRA vendor.
  • Traveled to Africa with his wife for all-expense paid safaris, gifted by an NRA vendor.
  • Spent millions on unwarranted travel consultants for decades, including for the booking of luxury black car services — spending more than $3.6 million in the last two years alone.
  • Secured a post-employment contract for himself with the NRA, without board approval, currently valued at more than $17 million.
  • Allotted several millions of dollars annually in NRA funds for private security costs for himself and his family without sufficient oversight on their use.
  • Received more than $1.2 million in expense reimbursements in just a four-year period for expenditures that included gifts for favored friends and vendors; travel expenses for himself and his family; and membership fees at golf clubs, hotels, and other member clubs.
  • Secured lucrative consulting contracts for ex-employees and board members worth millions.
The complaint alleges that as executive vice-president, LaPierre handpicked individuals in senior staff positions at the NRA that have shown themselves to be loyal to LaPierre as an individual, rather than to the organization. Time and time again, LaPierre has shown that loyalty, more than competence and responsibility, is integral to his staffing picks, which led him to personally hire Phillips, Powell, and Frazer — some chosen despite failing to meet the necessary skills or experience for their respective roles and responsibilities.
Wilson “Woody” Phillips – Former Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer
Woody Phillips — the former treasurer and CFO, who was responsible for managing the books and financial operations of the NRA — engaged in practices that violated NRA policy, lied on financial disclosure forms, and set up a deal worth more than $1 million that benefitted his girlfriend. Just before his retirement in 2018, Phillips obtained a contract for himself worth $1.8 million, purportedly for monthly consulting services to the incoming treasurer, even though the current treasurer knew nothing about this contract and has confirmed that “Woody [Phillips] never consulted for me.” Phillips, having served in the capacity as the chief steward of the organization's finances, also oversaw the financial practices that allowed millions of dollars in entertainment and travel expenses incurred by NRA executives to be fraudulently billed to the NRA as disbursements by the NRA’s largest vendor: Ackerman McQueen, an Oklahoma-based advertising and public relations firm. Furthermore, the complaint asserts that Phillips consistently eschewed his fiduciary duties time and time again, as evidenced by his failure to seriously respond to whistleblower complaints about alleged fiscal improprieties and his readiness to unilaterally authorize payments and contracts outside of the NRA adopted purchasing and contracting policies and procedures.
Joshua Powell – Former Chief of Staff and Executive Director of General Operations
Joshua Powell, the chief of staff to LaPierre, was terminated after just 3.5 years for, among other things, misappropriating NRA funds during his tenure. Powell, who is known as a LaPierre loyalist, received sudden and substantial salary increases almost immediately after starting his position. Within a month, his salary was doubled retroactively to the beginning of his tenure with the NRA to $500,000. After less than a year, Powell’s salary increased to $650,000. A little over two years into the job, Powell’s salary more than tripled from the original $250,000 to $800,000, despite numerous complaints of abusive behavior and evidence of illegal conduct and inappropriate spending. Further, Powell abused the NRA’s policy on housing and relocation reimbursements, pocketing in excess of $100,000 more than NRA rules allowed.
Powell’s tenure was marked by nepotism. LaPierre, Phillips, and Powell also signed off on the hiring of fundraising consultant McKenna & Associates outside of the NRA’s contract process and without going through any approval process. The NRA paid the company more than $5 million over the course of five years. For all of 2018, Powell’s wife was hired as a consultant by McKenna & Associates, and her entire $30,000 monthly consulting fee was passed through the NRA. The hiring of Powell’s wife was hidden from the NRA’s general counsel, in an effort to not draw attention to and affirmatively hide the conflict of interest, and her role was not pre-approved by the NRA board, as the organization’s policy requires. Additionally, Powell requested an NRA vendor to add his father to a rotation of paid photographers, resulting in more than $90,000 in compensation for his father, an expense which was completely passed through to the NRA.
John Frazer – Corporate Secretary and General Counsel
John Frazer was chosen by LaPierre to serve as general counsel and also served as corporate secretary at the NRA. Between 2014 and 2018, Frazer repeatedly failed to comply with board governance procedures, make necessary changes, or advise others that governance changes needed to be made; failed to ensure that financial transactions were being addressed by NRA officers and directors in accordance with law; failed to enforce compliance with the NRA’s conflict of interest policy; and failed to ensure that the NRA was in compliance with laws and policies governing whistleblowers. Additionally, Frazer repeatedly certified false or misleading annual statements.
Ackerman McQueen – NRA’s Public Relations and Advertising Firm
A practice decades-old between LaPierre and Ackerman McQueen’s co-founder — that would continue until the two companies severed ties in 2019 — ensured that Ackerman McQueen would pay for a variety of non-contractual, out-of-pocket expenses for LaPierre and other NRA executives and pass those expenses through to the NRA. The NRA leadership regularly used this pass-through arrangement — where expenses would be paid for by the NRA without written approvals, receipts, or supporting business purpose documentation — to conceal private travel and other costs that were largely personal in nature. Ackerman McQueen would aggregate the expenses into a lump sum amount and provide no details on the nature or purpose of the expenses when billing the NRA for them. The invoices only typically included a one-line description that read “out-of-pocket expenses” and included an invoice total amount. The expenses billed to the NRA for out-of-pocket expenses did not comply with IRS requirements, and, as a result, all such expenses should have been included by the NRA in taxable personal income for LaPierre and other recipients.
Ackerman McQueen was paid more than $70 million in just 2017 and 2018 for “public relations and advertising” services and for “out-of-pocket expenditures” that really went to entertainment and travel incurred by NRA executives and associates without scrutiny from within the organization, including millions for private planes, luxury hotels, memberships to private clubs, special events, fancy meals, and even personal hair and makeup services for LaPierre’s wife.
NRA Audit Committee’s Failure to Audit
Under New York law, the NRA’s audit committee is responsible for overseeing the accounting and financial reporting processes of the organization and the audit of its financial statements, but the culture of noncompliance and disregard for the internal controls is evident within the audit committee. The committee failed to serve as an independent check on LaPierre, his senior staff, and the NRA as a whole, and basically served as a rubber stamp for the organization’s illicit behavior, when it did review finances.
For example, the audit committee is charged with reviewing any contract that has the appearance of a conflict of interest, such as a contracts with insiders referred to as related-party transactions, and must not only perform certain considerations, but also document its deliberations. The committee routinely approved related-party transactions after LaPierre or senior staff entered into such agreements. In fact, in 2018, the audit committee approved seven related-party transactions after the fact, including a contract between the NRA’s then incoming president and Ackerman McQueen. At the time this contract was executed, the terms were known to LaPierre and Phillips, but the audit committee had no knowledge of it. Then, again in 2019 and 2020, the audit committee purportedly approved, retroactively, many other existing NRA contracts, some of which dated back 15 years.
The audit committee’s chair testified during a deposition with the OAG that he had no knowledge of New York law governing audit committees, whistleblowers, or conflicts of interest, and that he could not recall the last time he had seen the audit committee charter that specifically states the audit committee “overs[ees] the integrity of financial information” at the NRA. In fact, the committee chair testified that, in his view and contrary to the charter, the audit committee had no role in oversight of internal controls and that “there is no internal auditing” within the NRA and there hadn’t been one in the whole 19 years he served on the NRA board.
Unsurprisingly, during numerous occasions, the audit committee failed to respond adequately to whistleblowers, failed to appropriately review and approve related-party transactions and conflicts of interest, and failed to adequately oversee external auditors.
Extensive Violations of Fundamental Not-for-Profit Law
Attorney General James alleges in her complaint that the NRA violated multiple laws, including the laws governing the NRA’s charitable status, false reporting on annual filings with the IRS and with the OAG’s Charities Bureau, improper expense documentation, improper wage reporting, improper income tax withholding, failure to make required excise tax reporting and payments, payments in excess of reasonable compensation to disqualified persons, and waste of NRA assets; in direct violation of New York’s Estates, Powers & Trusts Laws; New York’s Not-for-Profit Corporation Law; the New York Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act; and New York’s Executive Law. The illegal nature of the four individual defendants’ action also violated multiple rules of the NRA’s bylaws, the NRA’s employee handbook, and the NRA’s policy manual.
The failure of the NRA to comply with multiple fiduciary responsibilities and state and federal laws resulted in the NRA seeing substantial losses on its balance sheet: going from a surplus of $27,802,714 in 2015 to a net deficit of $36,276,779 in 2018 — contributing to a total loss of more than $64 million in just three years.
Proposed Resolution
As a result of all the allegations mentioned above, Attorney General James seeks to dissolve the NRA; asks the court to order LaPierre, Phillips, Powell, and Frazer to make full restitution for funds they unlawfully profited and salaries earned while employees; pay penalties; recover illegal and unauthorized payments to the four individuals; remove LaPierre and Frazer from the NRA’s leadership (Phillips and Powell are no longer employed by the NRA); and ensure none of the four individual defendants can ever again serve on the board of a charity in New York.
Attorney General James began her inquiry into the NRA in February 2019.
The matter was led by Bureau Chief James Sheehan and Bureau Co-Chief of the Enforcement Section Emily Stern, with a team of attorneys, legal assistants, and accountants, including Assistant Attorney General and Special Counsel of the Litigation Bureau Monica Connell; Assistant Attorneys General William Wang, Sharon Sash, Jonathan Conley, Stephen Thompson, and Erica James — all of the Charities Bureau; with additional assistance from Chief Accountant Judith Welsh-Liebross, Associate Accountant Darren Beauchamp, and Associate Accountant Charles Aganu; in addition to numerous other individuals at the OAG. The Charities Bureau is part of the Division for Social Justice, which is supervised by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux and First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

Village of Wellsville announces paving schedule

TO: Residents
FROM: Department of Public Works
RE: Milling and Paving Street
Our paving contractor is planning to start milling on Monday, August 10, 2020 and Tuesday, August 11, 2020 on the following streets:
-North Broad Street from Fassett Lane to State Street
-South Broad Street from State Street to Miller Street
-Loring Avenue from South Broad Street to the end
Miller Street from South Broad Street to the end
-Stevens Street from Hamilton Street to Brooklyn Avenue
-East Hanover Street from South Main Street to Osborne
Paving will commence following milling, weather permitting.
After milling and before paving, manholes and water boxes will be elevated, so please drive carefully.  During paving and milling access to these streets will be limited and parking on the street will not be allowed so please plan ahead with parking arrangements to avoid any conflicts.
We thank you for your cooperation and patience.  If you have any questions, please call our office at 596-1710.
Bradley J Mattison
Assistant Director of Public Works

NY State Police Blotter

8/5/20 12:58pm- After investigating a domestic dispute in the town of Genesee, State Police arrested Mark E. Tolerson, 49, of Bolivar. He was charged by Troopers with criminal mischief - preventing an emergency call. He was initially detained.

Town of Alfred August Board Meeting

"Town of Alfred August 2020 Regular Board Meeting to be held online.
Public session can be joined using the Zoom link below, at 7p.m. Thursday, August 13th:
Meeting ID: 968 8969 5598
Passcode: 727855
One tap mobile
+16465588656,,96889695598# US (New York)