The Seneca County Board of Supervisors passed another Rule 29 motion about Cayuga Nation matters — this time to draft a letter for Attorney General Letitia James regarding Fayette’s Charles Bowman and his ongoing criminal case that came to an abrupt halt.
On Tuesday evening, Bowman was scheduled to petition the supervisors, calling for a special prosecutor to be brought to the county because he believes Seneca County District Attorney Mark Sinkiewicz is unfit to do so after stalling and delaying justice.
Bowman claimed Sinkiewicz and the Seneca Falls Police Department showed “no interest in investigating anything” on his behalf ever since a violent brawl happened, which led to Bowman, a non-Native, being detained by the Cayuga Nation Police Department and sustaining several injuries while in their custody, after a Nation press conference on February 29, 2020.
More than a year later, a grand jury convened in the county to determine who is criminally responsible, but only two criminal misdemeanor charges came out of the monthlong process, solely indicting Bowman — no one else — for alleged trespass and assault on Spencer Walker, a Pathfinder Solutions employee contracted out by the Nation’s police department.
Bowman characterized the grand jury as “a show just for you guys,” while speaking before supervisors inside the Ovid Courthouse, better known as the Papa Bear Building.
It’s been 92 days and counting since Bowman’s arraignment in Seneca Falls Town Court on July 13. He still hasn’t received any evidence or transcripts from last spring’s grand jury even after John Alder Stevens, Bowman’s criminal attorney, filed a request to obtain evidence on behalf of his client.
“This has gone on way too long,” Bowman said. “We need to have a special prosecutor brought in to clean up this mess for our Seneca County DA, and it is a mess.”
Dave Ettman, the county’s attorney, told Fayette Town Supervisor Cindy Garlick Lorenzetti how the county cannot directly appoint a special prosecutor to replace Sinkiewicz, but explained how the board may send a letter to the state’s Attorney General office for their consideration to intervene at their level.
Lorenzetti believed the “BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] never gets back to us,” after sending several letters that have gone routinely unanswered over the last few years.
That’s why she spearheaded last night’s motion to draft and send a letter to the Attorney General, requesting for the possible appointment of a special prosecutor in Seneca County and an investigation of the violent Feb. 29 incident, a petition that Seneca Falls Town Supervisor Ralph Lott later seconded.
“There’s too many unknowns and too many injustices that I think after reading all of the FOILs and seeing the tapes, that really probably need to be looked into,” Lorezentti said.
Citing FingerLakes1.com‘s recent reporting, Lorezentti felt the Nation is engaging in “wrongdoing” since their tribal police department does not possess any deputation agreements in Seneca or Cayuga counties — even though the Oneida Nation and St. Regis-Mohawk Nation have joint agreements established through the New York State Criminal Justice Services.
But Ettman clarified how the Nation is not required to possess any cross deputation agreements at the state level since their department is authorized through federal law, as FingerLakes1.com also previously reported.
Michael Ferrara, another Seneca Falls town supervisor, aired his concerns about sending the letter, suggesting how supervisors shouldn’t be “putting our nose into any ongoing investigations” regardless of whether they are Nation-related or not.
“We’re legislators, not the judicial branch,” he added.
But since Bowman has been charged with crimes, any and all investigations have concluded after the grand jury — even though it’s still an active court case.
Chairman Bob Hayssen asked if Stevens had already sent a letter out, but Bowman felt “criminalized and singled-out,” claiming it’s the county’s responsibility to take action since an elected county official is allegedly prolonging the legal process without any explanation to the defendant or his criminal defense lawyer.
Sending a letter forces Bowman to accrue additional legal fees that already topple $7,000 in payments to criminal and civil lawyers as well as a former New York State Police private investigator, but Ferrara suggested he should incur even more debt during his long-lasting litigation.
Ferrara even offered his own advice, telling Bowman how he should find another lawyer and pay $140,000 out of pocket to fight his legal battle since “this is not the place to be arguing this case.”
Despite some opposition, Lorenzetti’s motion still passed with only four supervisors voting against the proposed measure.
“I am very disappointed in Michael Ferrara for his lack of compassion for Seneca County residents,” Bowman told FingerLakes1.com after Tuesday’s meeting.
At the same time, however, Bowman also deeply appreciated how most board supervisors were willing to show their support in sending a letter to the state on his behalf.
Bowman is scheduled to return to Seneca Falls for his next court date on Wednesday, Nov. 17.
Editor’s Note: Sinkiewicz was unable to answer FingerLakes1.com‘s request for comment.
Rule 29 Motion’s Final Roll Call:
- Fayette Town Supervisor Cindy Garlick Lorezentti — Yay
- Seneca Falls Town Supervisor Paul Kronenwetter — Yay
- Seneca Falls Town Supervisor Ralph Lott — Yay
- Lodi Town Supervisor Kyle Barnhart — Yay
- Ovid Town Supervisor Joseph Borst — Yay
- Varick Town Supervisor Robert W. Hayssen — Yay
- Waterloo Town Supervisor Don Trout — Yay
- Waterloo Town Supervisor James Cleere — Yay
- Seneca Falls Town Supervisor Michael Ferrara — Nay
- Romulus Town Supervisor David Hayes — Nay
- Tyre Town Supervisor Ronald McGreevy — Nay
- Junius Town Supervisor C. Ernest Brownell — Nay
- Covert Town Supervisor Michael Reynolds — Yay
- Waterloo Town Supervisor Michael Enslow — Absent