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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

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Shari Cotroneo’s Story — could it happen to you?

First, let’s say clearly that the SOS-News website is NOT being transformed into a political election vehicle.  We are not posting candidate information, on-line signage, meeting notices or any partisan information which would transform us into one side of an issue at the expense of truth.  However, almost everything for which SOS has advocated has indeed had some political aspect to it.  That is the world in which we live.  Whether the issue was Gov. Cuomo and NYS going after the prior residents of our group home, or protecting our properties from a Town of Middlesex initiative to change the frontage requirements,  we have had to engage with any who impede our freedoms, put our families and/or properties at risk or infringe on the rights of others in our communities, especially those who are most vulnerable.  So, it is in this spirit, that we revisit a 3+ year old news story from the Canandaigua Messenger about the sad death in our community of the most vulnerable, baby Garren Smith, and the sad prosecution (some would say persecution) of a care-giver eventually found ‘not guilty’ by a jury trial, and it’s about the sufferings and trauma forced on her while awaiting trial.

There are people in our Middlesex Community who never wavered in their faith in the innocence of day-care provider Shari Cotroneo.   But how such a case could have been prosecuted by the office of Jason Cook, District Attorney, still boggles some minds.  Relief at the jury’s findings, even three years later, does not take away the emotional pain, onerous expense of self-defense, the loss of relationships or loss of trust in our government.  Nor does it answer the question, “Since Shari was not guilty, who was?  And was any further investigation done to find who or what really caused the death of little Garren Smith?”  Whether or not that question will ever be answered, at least perhaps one legacy might be to never prosecute in the manner  in which this case was handled.  The Canandaigua Messenger story, which admittedly needs better clarification of a few points, is reproduced in the newsprint scans shown below, followed by a few brief conclusions by a member of the Middlesex Community who sat through every moment of the trial.  But see for yourself, and form your own opinions.  And if it affects your voting, so be it.

If you know of other injurious, unfair or outrageous indignities perpetrated by any candidate for any office, specifically upon any member of our community, then this website stands ready to examine that situation as well, regardless of political affiliations.  For now, issues of broad impact, like tax rates, are beyond what we are able to do at this time on this website.  (Click to enlarge to read any picture.)

Shari Cotroneo 1A crop

Shari Cotroneo 1B crop

Shari Cotroneo 2crop








Closing Comments by Lynn Lersch, long time Middlesex Resident:
  1.  I have been acquainted with Shari Cotroneo for a number of years and, as a prior daycare child care provider myself for 22 years, I can truthfully say that if she were still a provider, I would recommend her to care for my children without hesitation.  My comments here refer specifically to my deep-seated concerns about how the Yates County District Attorney’s office prosecuted the case and, given the clear and rapid “not guilty” verdict, allowed the unnecessary and devastating emotional trauma. By example, physically separating Shari from her nursing newborn infant and family for almost a year  not only impacted Shari but changed forever the relationship between mother and child in the most crucial time of child development. It seemed at the time, and especially in retrospect, to be cruel and heartless, treating Shari as “guilty until proven innocent””, contrary to our American Justice System.  Shari’s refusing a 6 month plea bargain and taking the risk of 15 years in jail speaks volumes about her maintaining her innocence and not being cowed by such pressure to accept a lesser charge which would hand “a conviction,” if accepted, to the prosecution. Such details led me to commit to attending the trial daily.   Thus, I have a much more intense perspective than someone just reading the newspaper article.  To this day, I can truthfully state it is my opinion that there was nothing stated in that Yates County Courtroom that will ever change my mind that Shari Cotroneo is innocent of all charges. 
  2. My faith in the jury system was strengthened by the careful way I saw the jury go about its work and the resultant verdict in a very short period of time for this type of case.  In approximately two hours, the polled jury came to a unanimous decision to clear Shari of all charges.  From everything I saw and heard in the courtroom, it is my personal opinion that this case never should have come to trial; that no case should ever be handled the way this one was handled.
  3. Besides the personal trauma and expense to Shari and her family, there was an unnecessary cost to the taxpayers financially and to the community emotionally as well, which is haunted by the memory of this horrific death, and the misdirected blame.  There is an unspoken erosion, I believe, in their “trust” in the “system.”  I personally have spoken to DA Jason Cook about my concerns about his prosecution of this case.  I would also be willing to speak to others who may want to discuss it further.

Lynn Lersch, Middlesex  resident


1 Comment

  1. Comments  Anonomous   |  Thursday, 07 April 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Former DA Jason Cook is now running for Yates County Judge. In addition to the Shari Cotroneo story above, there are several other glaring incidents of Jason Cook’s abuse of prosecutorial power while serving as DA and ADA in Yates County, involving levying inappropriate and in some cases, illegal charges, which were later dismissed by judge or jury, but not after taking a toll on those people’s reputations and permanently affecting their lives in the process. And there are/were three unrelated lawsuits filed against Yates County naming Jason Cook (Garner v Ruger et al, Barry v Yates County et al, Lacy v Yates County et al) for civil rights violations in a two year period. This is an important election. Putting anyone in such a powerful position with anything less than perfect reputation for integrity could be a life altering choice for you, your children and grandchildren. It is imperative that you familiarize yourself on the background, experience, ethics and history of both candidates for Judge prior to voting.

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