New York state is set to make its case in court for keeping convicted HIV sex offender Nushawn Williams in prison. A civil confinement trial is set to begin today in Chautauqua County. The jury of 12 members and three alternates was seated last week. The 36-year-old Williams went to prison in the late 1990s amid a firestorm of accusations that he infected 13 young women with HIV. He completed a 12-year sentence for statutory rape and reckless endangerment in 2010... but, he has remained behind bars while the state seeks to have him committed indefinitely under a civil law that allows extended confinement for dangerous offenders. Williams' lawyer, John Nuchereno, says new test results indicate Williams is not HIV positive after all. The state Attorney General's office disputes the results and the testing method that was used.
Chautauqua County's other representative in the state legislature is also very pleased that the state has reached an agreement with the Seneca Nation to end a lengthy rift over casino gaming. Assemblyman Andy Goodell says he likes the fact that the deal will make the three cities -- including Salamanca -- that have Seneca operated casinos, whole again. The Bemus Point Republican is also happy that the move will prevent more Las Vegas-style casinos from being located in Western New York. He says more casinos is not better. Goodell says the exclusivity clause in the Casino Compact gives ONLY the Senecas the opportunity to build another casino west of Syracuse. He adds he does not support Governor Cuomo's efforts to expand commercial, casino gaming in New York and will vote against any legislation that comes up in the final days of the legislative session.
New York's casino expansion bill being negotiated behind closed doors has a new provision that would expand gambling even if voters reject the proposal to build more casinos. A copy of the revised bill obtained last weekend by The Associated Press includes a provision that would authorize video slot machine centers in New York City's outer boroughs and as many as three or four sites upstate. The bill provides for the video slot casinos with up to 5-thousand machines. The bill hasn't yet been released. It is being negotiated by Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders. Cuomo has said that getting public approval for a constitutional amendment to allow Las Vegas-type casinos would be difficult. A spokesman for the governor declined to comment when asked about the provision.
With less than a week to go in the state legislative session... lawmakers still have "a lot of unfinished business." However... Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi says appears unlikely any serious mandate relief will be taken up because of several other issues... such as women's rights... ethics reform... and, the "Tax Free" zones legislation has dominated the headlines in recent days. Teresi made his comments to our Terry Frank on this past weekend's "Community Spotlight" program. A key mandate yet to be addressed is the binding arbitration provision of New York state's Taylor Law. That measure was taken out of one-house bills in both the state Assembly and Senate at the urging of Governor Andrew Cuomo... who wanted to see lawmakers act on a proposal to cap union awards at 2-percent. Teresi says there's really been no indication of how the legislature will deal with that. However... if the legislature approves another 2... and, goes back to a 4-year extension... Cuomo has threatened to veto it. Teresi says he and most other municipal leaders would like to see NOT renewed before the June 30th deadline. City Council tonight will vote on home rule legislation during a special meeting to establishe a Parking Violations Tribunal city officials say would save money... and, possibly bring in more revenue.
A former New York state senator who was accused of looting health clinics to pay for extravagances including pony rides and who pleaded guilty to tax fraud charges has been sentenced to five years in prison. Pedro Espada Jr. was sentenced Friday in Brooklyn. The once-influential Democrat also was convicted in a separate case alleging he looted the taxpayer-subsidized clinics. Espada operated the clinics in the South Bronx for three decades until prosecutors accused him of turning the network into a personal ATM. Espada offered no signs of remorse before sentencing. He instead talked about the clinics' history of providing care to poor New Yorkers.
Country singer Willie Nelson says his annual Farm Aid benefit concert is coming to upstate New York with an all-day festival and locally grown food. The event in Saratoga Springs, 28 miles north of Albany, will be held September 21st at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. It will feature Nelson and fellow Farm Aid board members John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews, as well as other artists to be announced soon. Tickets go on sale to Farm Aid members June 18th and to the general public June 28th. At a tour bus stop in Albany on Thursday, Nelson said the Northeast is fertile ground for new farmers and sustainable agriculture. Farm Aid's mission is to keep family farmers on the land and support the movement toward healthy, locally grown food.