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E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy files notice to Watervliet over sex charges against police officer

The E. Stewart Jones Law Firm has filed notice of an intended lawsuit on behalf of a client who had interacted with the Watervliet police offer charged earlier this month. The officer has been charged with four felony counts of third-degree criminal sex act, the legal term for sodomy, and misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and official misconduct.

 

The entire Albany Times Union story is available below, or by clicking here  

Albany Times Union Story on Saratoga Springs man freed from confiment

Story Reprinted from the Times Union

Watervliet, NY – The city and city school district face a lawsuit over the conduct of suspended Officer Joshua Spratt when he was the police department’s school resource officer at Watervliet High School, city officials said Thursday night. A notice of claim was served on the city Thursday before its monthly City Council meeting.

The council adjourned into executive session to discuss the pending legal action. “We just received it. We’re reviewing it,” Mayor Michael Manning said. The notice was filed by the law firm of E. Stewart Jones, Hacker, Murphy on behalf of the claimant who had interacted with Spratt. This is the first step to be taken in suing a municipality and its employees.

The notice names Spratt, the police department, the city, the Watervliet City School District and the city Board of Education, officials said. Spratt was indicted by an Albany County grand jury for allegedly having sexual relations with two girls, a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old, while he worked as the school resource officer. The charges against Spratt are four felony counts of third-degree criminal sex act, the legal term for sodomy, and misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and official misconduct. Spratt was arrested July 31 by State Police after the Watervliet police turned the case over to the state agency for investigation. The sealed indictment was opened Aug. 3 in Albany County Court. At that time, Spratt pleaded not guilty to the charges. State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Breslin issued three orders of protection for the two girls and for a witness. Spratt was suspended without pay from the Watervliet Police Department. He is free on $50,000 bail.

Officer Sam Razzano was placed on paid administrative leave while the State Police investigate him for allegations tied to the Spratt case of misconduct while on duty. The pending lawsuit came as the City Council heard residents concerns about the naming of the two teenagers on a Facebook page that was created to support Spratt. The page included personal information about the two girls and it was quickly deleted. Police Chief Ronald Boisvert told residents that the State Police are investigating to determine who posted the Facebook page. Sheri Cassidy, one of the organizers of a protest outside City Hall last week on this subject, questioned why there hasn’t been a public meeting on the issue.

There were complaints that City Council members had not spoken out. Manning and Boisvert said the decision was made to have the chief speak to the media regarding the Spratt case as well as the drug case involving former Officer Nicholas Pontore. Manning said when the Spratt case was handed to the State Police, an arrest was made within a week. Pontore faces multiple counts of drug possession, conspiracy and official misconduct for allegedly providing protection to the Young Gunnerz, a violent Troy-based gang of drug dealers, according to the State Attorney General’s Office investigation. Pontore gave the Watervliet Police Department evidence that sparked the investigation of Spratt and led to his eventual arrest. Bosivert said the department checked on rumors about Spratt’s behavior at the high school, but never received any complaints. Councilwoman Ellen Fogarty told the 35 people attending the meeting that the council supports the police department and other city employees.

Story by Ken Crowe, Times Union, kcrowe@timesunion.com, 518-454-5084

5 Helpful Tips for Bike Safety

Injured Bicyclist

Now that summer is in full swing and the kids are out enjoying the weather, many of them will be on their bikes.  Bicycle safety is important factor to consider, especially when it comes to children.  Tragically, in 2013 alone, nearly 2,000 children were injured or killed while riding their bikes.* It is important to always make safety your number one priority before you or your kids or get on a bike.  Some important bicycle safety tips to follow:

  1. Wear the correct helmet: Wearing a helmet is perhaps the most crucial safety tip that we could give, but wearing one that doesn’t fit your head properly is almost as dangerous as riding without a helmet. If a helmet is too loose or too tight, it may not protect you. If you are unsure of whether your helmet fits your child correctly, getting a professional opinion at a bike shop is a great option.
  2. Make sure the bike fits: It is very easy to lose control of a bike that is too big for you. That’s why it is crucial to adjust the bike so it is personalized to your height. The seat should always be level, and its height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebars should then be the same height as the seat.
  3. Check your equipment: Before you ride off, make sure your brakes, tires, chain and any other loose ends on your bike are properly working.  For example, improperly working brakes can lead to rider panic and possibly lead to a serious accident, especially when car traffic is involved.
  4. Be seen, be safe!: It generally is a bad idea to let your child ride his/her bike in the dark, but if its necessary, wear reflective articles of clothing (such as a vest), or reflective tape. Attach reflective lights to the bike as well. These reflective articles of clothing are also a good idea to incorporate during the daytime. You want a driver to clearly see you as soon as possible to avoid an accident. Reflective articles of clothing and tape are generally inexpensive and can be purchased at any local hardware / home improvement store.
  5. Follow road rules: Look for traffic before you pull out onto a street. Look both ways before you cross the street, and ride in the same direction as traffic. This way is an accident does occur, the bike is propelled forward instead of into a moving car. Most importantly, obey all traffic signs and laws as you would if you were in a car.  From past personal injury case experience, one of the most common bike accidents occur when a bicyclist is hit by a car in a crosswalk or intersection.

If you have been injured in a biking accident, contact us immediately to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers. We offer convenient meeting times at any of our four regional law offices in Albany, Troy, Latham and Saratoga Springs, NY.

The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy legal team is also available 24/7 for emergency situations by calling (518) 274-5820.  We are here to help you through this difficult time.

For more information on bike safety, take a moment to read the League of American Bicyclist’s guide.  

*Information provided through the League of American Bicyclist’s

New York Court of Appeals Addresses Restrictive Covenants

New York State Court of Appeals

The New York Court of Appeals made a judgement last week which impacts both employees and employers throughout the state. On July 24, 2015, the Court of Appeals addressed two issues in Brown & Brown v. Johnson, 25 N.Y.3d 364 pertaining to restrictive covenants. The issues addressed were regarding enforcement of the law provision in an employment contract and the allowance to blue pencil the restrictive covenant at issue.

“With this Decision the Court of Appeals reminds employers that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to restrictive covenants is not a wise decision,” said Ryan Finn, Attorney at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy. “If an employer wants to enforce an agreement limiting its former employees from competing, the employer needs to document its reasons, and limit the scope of the agreement to avoid over-reaching.”

For further information regarding this decision, please visit here.

If you have any questions regarding employment contracts or labor employment, contact the law offices of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced attorneys can meet you at any of the four regional offices located in Albany, Troy, Latham and Saratoga Springs, NY.

 

Wage Increase Approval for NYS

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Julia Longoria/WNYC

The New York State Wage Board announced yesterday, Wednesday, July 22, 2015, the approval of a wage increase for fast food establishment workers. This means that workers at a fast food chain restaurant with more than 30 locations will be receiving $15.00 per hour. The common misconception out there right now is that this increase will happen right away. These restaurant workers will work their way up to $15 per hour over a period of time.

New York City workers will be the first to receive $15 per hour in 2018. On December 31, 2015 minimum wage will increase to $10.50 in New York City and then on that day every year, the wage will increase. It won’t be until 2021 that all of the workers in New York will be making $15 per hour. Hopefully, by 2021, all workers will be making $15 per hour.

“This is likely the first step toward raising wages throughout all industries in New York. The implementation of this wage increase will also be watched closely throughout the Country,” said Attorney Ryan Finn, from E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy. “This is a win for the hardworking individuals who work in the fast food industry in New York.”

If you have any questions about this minimum wage approval or if you feel that you are not receiving the proper benefits from your employer, contact the law offices of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced attorneys can meet you at any of the four regional offices located in Albany, Troy, Latham and Saratoga Springs, NY.