New York state briefs

Staff reports

ATF makes gun bust in Wellsville

WELLSVILLE — A South Main Street resident, charged with dealing in firearms without a license, was expected to appear yesterday in U.S.?District Court in Buffalo.

Robert Merrick, 76, of 395 S. Main?St., was arrested without incident on the federal firearms charge at about 7:30 a.m. today after Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents executed a search warrant at his residence.

“He’ll be transported today for an initial appearance (arraignment),”?said David P. De Joe, ATF resident agent in charge, on Wednesday. “It’s a federal warrant from the Western Judicial District of New York.”

De?Joe said the investigation began about six months ago. He said agents would be searching Merrick’s house and vehicle.

“We haven’t even started the search yet,”?De Joe said yesterday morning.. “There’s quite a quantity of firearms. I’m not even going to hazard a guess (as to how many weapons there are) —?a lot.”

De?Joe did not elaborate on the specific weapons Merrick has allegedly been illegally dealing.

Steuben County receives $1.2M for development

CORNING — The city of Corning has been awarded $400,000 to improve access to downtown services and retail areas.

The money is part of $1,198,780 in grants received throughout Steuben County from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Program.

The city of Hornell will received $400,000 to rehabilitate 14 substandard housing units. Steuben County will get $398,780 to improve a dozen units and install septic systems at six houses.

The Corning grant, along with local funds, will be used to upgrade sidewalks and street crossings for the Vital Link Accessibility project.

Construction is scheduled to start in the spring of 2009, and be complete by the end of the year.

“This is exciting news for the Gaffer District,” said Tom Blumer, Gaffer District chairman. “The state grant gives us the opportunity to upgrade our sidewalks for residents and visitors.”

Blumer said the upgrades will provide disabled Americans accessibility to medical services, the Corning Hospital, city hall, the post office, and various restaurants and stores.

The project will support the needs of senior citizens and will help make Corning’s Gaffer District one of the most accessible historic sites.

The funding is provided by the federal government and administered by the state.

“These grants will ensure more affordable housing is available, will provide services to the most vulnerable in our communities, and will create jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses,” said U.S. Rep. John R. “Randy” Kuhl Jr., R-Hammondsport.

Monroe County blasted for publishing social security numbers online

ROCHESTER — The Democratic challenger seeking Cheryl DiNolfo’s post as county clerk contends that thousands of social security numbers are available to the public through the county clerk’s Web site.

Tom Hasman held a press conference Wednesday afternoon, calling on the county to remove the information from its site immediately.

“In an era when identity theft is one of the fastest growing threats to individual and national security, it is inconceivable that a breach of this kind could have occurred in our county clerk's office,” said Hasman.

The documents are filed under order to abandon, which includes people who have filed for bankruptcy.

County Clerk Cheryl DiNolfo responded by saying that the records are public documents. DiNolfo said she is not required to put the records online, but she is required to provide them if someone files a Freedom of Information request.

"Certainly, there is no requirement to post those documents online," DiNolfo said. She didn't say the documents would be removed.

She added that when someone files a document that includes a social security number, the office asks them to remove it. If they decline, they must sign a waiver.

Additionally,  DiNolfo said, older documents filed by Bankruptcy Court included social security numbers but newer documents do not.  After about 2004, it appears the documents no longer contained social security numbers.

However, DiNolfo added, she is currently using software that has the ability to redact - or in essence black out - certain information.