Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on October 22, 2015 · Page A13
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October 22, 2015

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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page A13

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Rochester, New York
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Thursday, October 22, 2015
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DemocratandChronicle .com Thursday,October22,2015 Page13A ALBANY - Former state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous has asked a judge to spare him from any jail time, warning that he “doesn’t know how long (he) has left to live.” As part of a sentencing memo submitted late Tuesday, Libous and dozens of family members and allies penned let- t ers to U.S. District Judge Vincent Briccetti, begging for leniency as the White P lains-based jurist weighs whether to send the Binghamton Republican to prison next month. M any of the letters, including those f rom Libous and his wife, detail a worsening prognosis for the cancer he has d ealt with since 2009, with the disease t hat started in his prostate now having spread to his lungs, bones, liver and lymph nodes. “Now Judge, my fate is in your hands a nd I ask for mercy when you decide it,” Libous wrote. L ibous was convicted by a jury in July of lying to the FBIduring a 2010 interview in his Capitol office. The jury found t he lawmaker lied about scheming to get h is son with a politically connected Westchester County law firm in 2005 and ar- r anging for an Albany lobbying firm to c over a third of the son’s $150,000-a-year salary. In the sentencing memo, Libous’ attorney Paul DerOhannesian argued the 62-year-old shouldn’t be sentenced to prison or house arrest, but rather two years of probation and a $5,000 fine. The U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services System, meanwhile, recommended six months of house arrest, two years’ probation and a $5,000 fine. U .S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office is scheduled to submit its own sentenc- i ng recommendations next week before Libous learns his fate Nov. 24. The supportive letters, which are oft en collected by defense attorneys and s ubmitted to courts before sentencing, came from a variety of Libous friends a nd allies, including a number of current a nd former lawmakers from the Southern Tier and Albany. Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, said Libous “has suffered more than anyone should suffer.” In his own letter, Libous said the trial proved he never directed money or work to Santangelo Randazzo & Mangone, the Westchester firm that hired his son, or Ostroff Hiffa and Associates, the Albany l obbying outfit that covered part of the salary. A nthony Mangone, a former partner in the Westchester firm who cooperated with the prosecution, testified that the s enator had promised to steer work to t he firm but never delivered. J CAMPBELL1@gannett.com Libous pens letter to judge, asks for ‘mercy’ JON CAMPBELL ALBANY BUREAU RICKY FLORES/THE JOURNAL NEWS Former state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous has asked a judge to spare him from any jail time, saying he is terminally ill. ALBANY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo on W ednesday said he supports a statewide l icensing system for ride-sharing ser- v ices like Uber and Lyft. C uomo’s remarks come after Uber announced Tuesday it would undertake a campaign to get a statewide law so it could bring its service to upstate New York and the Hudson Valley. “You have taxis in Rochester, taxis in Buffalo, taxis in New York City,” Cuomo told reporters after an event in Manhattan. “But this would be a statewide franchise. We want to make sure there’s a level playing field, so they can compete the same way everybody else competes and they don’t have any advantage.” Uber said it needs a state law because o f the patchwork of regulations in municipalities that oversee the livery industry, as well as the need for new insurance laws. Also, a state law would allow users to hail rides using its peer-to-peer app. Currently, Uber operates in New York City, but acts largely as any other taxi service and doesn’t have special rules governing i t. Uber praised the Democratic govern or’s comments. “It is clear that state leaders are hearing the voices of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are clamoring for s ervices like Uber across the state,” Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang said in a statement, “from potential driver-partners who want to use the platform to earn money to riders who want a safe, reliable a nd affordable way to get around their c ommunities.” Cuomo said since Uber and its competitor Lyft would operate statewide — unlike most taxi companies that are regionally based — a law is needed. “ You can’t do Uber city by city,” Cuo- m o said. “You can’t say to an Uber, ‘Well, go city by city in the state and come up with a licensing permit.’ Because you’d have 200 different varieties.” The legislative session resumes in J anuary and the issue will likely be one o f the key ones for the state Legislature to consider. Some lawmakers have been cautious about crafting a law that could benefit a few companies and the impact it could h ave on existing livery companies. “We have to go slowly and safely,” Assembly Transportation Committee chairman David Gantt, D-Rochester, said. Uber on Tuesday estimated it would h ave 13,000 drivers in upstate New York who would fulfill 500,000 trips a month. The San Francisco-based company said that 350,000 New Yorkers outside New Y ork City have downloaded its app. Concerns have been raised by the taxi industry that a state law would infringe o n existing businesses and usurp any regulations in New York City, where Uber has faced resistance. James Weisman, president of the United Spinal Association, urged Cuomo to require Uber to be accessible for people in wheelchairs. “ Governor Cuomo has an opportunity t o lead the nation by making New York the first state to require 100 percent wheelchair accessibility for Uber,” W eisman said in a statement. “The governor’s support brought wheelchair-accessible taxis to New York City, and now h e can do it statewide.” Cuomo said municipalities would still maintain some local control with any s tate regulations. “You have a statewide license and t hen local governments can do local regulations of their taxis and limousines, but you’d have a statewide license for s tatewide operators,” Cuomo said. “Because, think about it, it couldn’t work otherwise.” J SPECTOR@Gannett.com www.twitter.com/gannettalbany Cuomo backs NY l aw for Uber, Lyft Wants state licensing f or ride services JOSEPH SPECTOR ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF ALBANY - United Parcel Service h as agreed to pay New York $1.2 million as part of a $4 million, multi-state settlement over claims that it recorded in- a ccurate delivery times on packages sent via next-day delivery services by government customers. A ttorney General Eric Schneiderman on Wednesday announced the agreement amid allegations that some U PS employees violated the law. “UPS improperly profited from c harging New York state government entities – and ultimately our taxpayers –when its employees failed to meet its g uaranteed delivery times for overnight deliveries,” Schneiderman said in astatement. “Corporations that imp roperly profit at the expense of taxpayers will be held to account.” T he agreement will return $1.2 million of the settlement to New York and local governments. Schneiderman’s off ice didn’t immediately have a break- d own on how much each local government would receive. In addition, the agreement also out- l ined that UPS has instituted remedial training, monitoring and reporting compliance programs for delivery fail- u res or policy violations. “UPS completed a settlement that totals approximately $4.2 million with 17 s tate and local entities to resolve all claims,” Susan Rosenberg, UPS public r elations director, said in a statement. “UPS continues to be a supplier in good standing with these governments and a gencies and values their relationships. When notified of the issues, UPS focused to improve training, systems and t echnology to better serve our customers.” The shipping service employees were also recording inappropriate “exception codes” as to why the packages were delivered late, such as adverse weather, when in actuality the weather conditions proved to be sunny, the prose cutors claimed. These exception c odes allegedly prevented the government customers from receiving refunds. T he allegations stem from a 10-year period from 2004 to 2014 and come from “tens of thousands” of government a gencies in New York, California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, N ew Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. A llegations also come from government agencies in three cities: New York City, Washington D.C. and Chicago. S chneiderman thanked the whistle- blower Frank Fulk, a former UPS employee who came forward about the all egations. NMUSCAVAGE@Gannett.com UPS agrees to pay NY $1.2M Settlement over inaccurate delivery times NICK MUSCAVAGE ALBANY BUREAU NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. - Called to a meeting in the sanctuary of their c hurch, teenage brothers Christopher and Lucas Leonard were told to stand and answer for what they had done. When the answers didn’t come, the beatings began. C hristopher Leonard, 17, said he was p unched in the stomach by a fellow church member. Then his parents, his half sister and other congregants delivered a beating that racked his whole body, until he was taken to another r oom with earplugs and earmuffs to k eep him from hearing what was going on around him, he said. “It hurt,” he said, “everywhere.” When he was finally brought back to the sanctuary, he saw his 19-year-old b rother collapse on the floor, moaning — and, then, not breathing. His voice barely audible in court, Christopher Leonard gave his first public account Wednesday of the violence last week that sent him to the hospital a nd killed his brother. Six people have been arrested, including the brothers’ parents and half sister. Testifying at a hearing for the half sister, Christopher didn’t explain what the brothers were being punished for, and the judge stopped him from disc losing what questions they were asked. Outside court, authorities have said the beating erupted during “spiritual c ounseling” over Lucas’ desire to leave Word of Life Christian Church, a small, secretive and highly regimented congregation in upstate New York. The teens’ parents, Bruce and Debo rah Leonard, are charged with mans laughter. The half sister, 33-year-old Sarah Ferguson, and three other church members are charged with assault. At the conclusion of Wednesday’s h earing, the judge ruled there is suffi- c ient evidence for the case against Ferguson to go forward. Christopher Leonard testified that after an eight-hour Sunday service Oct. 11, pastor Tiffanie Irwin asked the L eonard family and some others to stay b ehind for a meeting. The purpose? The slight, bespectacled teenager paused, then said only: “To talk about what we had done. Lucas and I.” H e said he and his brother answered some questions during the interrogation but didn’t want to answer others. Over what Christopher Leonard estimated was six or more hours, he was pummeled with fists and whipped with a4-foot, folded electrical cord on the back and elsewhere, he said. He suffered injuries to his torso and genitals. Later, he said, he rushed over to Luc as on the floor in the sanctuary, not iced he wasn’t breathing and tried with achurch leader to revive him. Barred from riding in the family van that carried his brother to a hospital, Christopher was taken to the hospital b y other congregants but didn’t go in, he recalled. Instead, they drove him back and made him a bed on the second floor of the school-turned-church. He went to sleep, though it hurt to breathe and he repeatedly vomited. TINA RUSSELAP Christopher Leonard, right, appears in court to give testimony during a felony hearing for his half-sister, Sarah Ferguson, on Wednesdayin New Hartford, N.Y. Ferguson is accused of second-degree assault for allegedly beating Christopher Leonard. His brother, Lucas Leonard, died. Teen tells of fatal beating in church 6charged in attack that killed man, 19 CAROLYN THOMPSON ASSOCIATED PRESS TINA RUSSELAP Sarah Ferguson, half-sister of Christopher and Lucas Leonard, sits next to her attorney Thomas O’Brien III as she appears in court for a preliminary hearing on a second-degree assault charge.

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