Cohoes woman arrested in check fraud at local church
Over $8,500 in fake checks cashed from accounts
DELMAR – On December 7, staff at a local church contacted Bethlehem police after a series of checks written went missing and an additional check was cashed that was not issued by the church.
According to reports, the church wrote and put out in the mailbox of the church five checks for vendors of the parish. The payments were never received and one check was rewritten, but a check with that number had already been cashed for $3,500.79.
An investigation at the bank found that the check was forged.
An additional check for $4,995.75 was electronically cashed into the account of Angelique Benson, 25, of Cohoes, on December 11. The check was not issued by the Church.
Detectives applied for and a judge signed an arrest warrant for Benson on Friday, Jan. 19 and she turned herself in to Bethelhem police on Tuesday, Jan. 23.
Benson was charged with grand larceny and possession of a forged instrument, both felonies, and criminal impersonation, a misdemeanor.
She was arraigned by Bethlehem Town Judge Andrew Kirby and released on her own recognizance.
No license, two people, three warrants
SLINGERLANDS – Bethlehem police observed a Blue Chevrolet Silverado not stop before entering New Scotland Road from the Price Chopper Plaza and performed a traffic stop on Friday, Jan. 19.
Upon interviewing the driver, the officer found that Myah Batuk-Weatherwax, 26, of Albany, did not have a valid license and had two outstanding warrants from East Greenbush police.
The passenger in the car, Amy Sisson, 31, of Albany, also had an outstanding warrant from Albany City police.
Batuk-Weatherwax was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, a misdemeanor, and ticketed for failing to stop.
She was transported to meet East Greenbush police. Sisson was transported to Albany police south station.
Larceny and warrant at CVS
DELMAR – On Friday, Jan. 19, Bethlehem police responded to CVS on Delaware Avenue for a report of a suspicious person that may be concealing items with the intent to steal them.
When officers arrived they interviewed Tanya Lee, 43, of Watervliet, and a check of her date of birth and address revealed that she had an active arrest warrant in Watervliet.
Lee was taken into custody and transported to meet officers from Watervliet police.
Truck crashes into house, driver charged with Aggravated DWI
SELKIRK – On Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 8:37 p.m., a Harvest Ridge Road homeowner reported to Bethlehem dispatch that a truck crashed into her house.
Selkirk and Delmar fire departments and EMS responded to the residence and found a gray 2002 Toyota pickup truck crashed into the front porch.
According to police reports, the homeowner said that the driver hit the house then attempted to drive away before first responders and police arrived. The driver, a 36-year-old Schenectady man, then attempted to drive away, but the homeowner yelled for him to stop, which he did. The homeowner then turned the truck off and threw the keys into the bushes.
After the driver was evaluated and released from EMS, officers observed the man to have bloodshot and watery eyes and had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath. The man stated that he was coming from Schenectady and was heading to a Delmar residence. He said he had consumed an unknown quantity of Heineken beers.
The man was given and failed field sobriety tests and tested positive for breath alcohol on a pre-screening device and taken into custody.
At the police station, the man provided a breath sample that returned a .23 percent BAC. An inventory of the truck also found three open containers of alcohol.
The man was charged with aggravated DWI, a misdemeanor, and ticketed for speeding, moving unsafely from a lane and drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle.
He was arraigned by Bethlehem Judge Andrew Kirby and released on his own recognizance. The man is scheduled back in Bethlehem Town court on February 20.
New Jersey man sentenced for killing woman in Northway crash
Vasu Laroiya receives eight and a third to 25 years in prison
ALBANY – 25-year-old Vasu Laroiya of Iselin, NJ, was sentenced to an indeterminate term of
8 and 1/3 to 25 years in State Prison before Judge William Little in Albany County Court on Friday, Jan. 26 after he previously pleaded guilty to One Count of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide on November 28..
As a part of his plea, Laroiya admitted that on or about May 28, 2022, in the Latham area of the
Northway in Colonie, he drove recklessly at speeds reaching 156 miles per hour while intoxicated and using his cell phone to make a Snapchat video, when he drove into the back of a vehicle being driven by Katie Fisher, causing her death. Laroiya also admitted having a prior
alcohol related conviction from New Jersey in 2019.
The original indictment, handed up on July 6, 2022, included charges of murder the second degree, manslaughter in the second degree, reckless endangerment in the first degree, driving while intoxicated, and reckless driving.
Shawn Fisher, the victim’s father, said at the hearing,
“These intentional acts demonstrate that you don’t care about the repercussions of your behavior, and I believe that given the opportunity, you would continue to make more poor, selfish choices. Because of your actions, I am fully convinced that you don’t care about anyone but yourself, and anything you say or do at this point, is merely an attempt to avoid punishment. And despite being granted a plea deal, I will always consider you Katie’s murderer, because of your depraved indifference.”
Adrianne Rickson, the victim’s mother, said “Her body was internally exploded. Her gas tank was a quarter mile down the road, and you play the victim? I can only hope that your stay in this prison system can help you figure out what is so broken inside of you, so you can fix it… She will never have another birthday, no more Christmases with our Katie. No more anything.”
Albany County Assistant District Attorney Mary Tanner-Richter said, “The lies. Saying over and over that he was on auto-pilot; that was a lie. Saying he was only going about 70 to 75 miles per hour, that was a lie. Saying that he had one drink, the Mai Tai; that was a lie of omission. He conveniently left out the two ultimate Long Island Iced Teas he consumed in rapid succession… Saying another car flew by him, that phantom car, that was a lie. And saying that Katie brake-checked him; that may be one of the most offensive lies that Vasu Laroiya told. When Vasu Laroiya comes up for parole, I sincerely hope the State of New York sees what you took from this family, and takes note of your abdication of all responsibility”
Little had the final words before sentencing for Laroiya.
“You’re arrogant, you’re selfish, you’re entitled. All you did was complain… You killed someone, but you have the audacity to complain about your ankle monitor? You have the audacity to complain about going to college? I really don’t even want to see you, to be honest,” he said.
In addition to his prison sentence, Laroiya will be subject to license revocation, and the
installation of an ignition interlock device.
This story was featured on page 16 of the January 31, 2024 print edition of The Spotlight.