Teenager indicted in arson at Potsdam church

| October 14, 2009

CANTON — A Potsdam teen was indicted Tuesday by a St. Lawrence County grand jury for reportedly setting fire to St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Potsdam last October.

Craig A. Foley,18, of 114A Smith Road, was charged with third-degree arson, a felony.

Mr. Foley is accused of starting a fire Oct. 29, 2008, that damaged the church’s altar and the carpet around it.

An automated fire alarm prevented more serious damage from occurring. Potsdam village police have said they believe an accelerant was used to start the fire.

The teen told police he went to the church "to talk to God" because he wanted to release his anger after fighting with his stepfather. He lit some candles and a book of matches at the altar, along with stabbing two knives into a fake pumpkin, according to his police statement.

Mr. Foley then tossed the burning book of matches onto the rug. He attempted to put out the fire, but had no luck.

"This is when I came to the realization that this isn’t the best way to let off frustration," Mr. Foley said in the police statement.

The grand jury also returned indictments against the following:

Denise M. Tallman,39, of 9 Wilson St., Heuvelton, was charged with leaving the scene of an incident without reporting and third-degree falsely reporting an incident.

Andrew J. Sovie, Ogdensburg, was injured while riding his bicycle to work in Heuvelton early the morning of April 23 in the town of Oswegatchie when Ms. Tallman allegedly struck him from behind while driving a minivan on Route 812.

Ms. Tallman is also accused of lying to state police about her minivan being stolen after the accident.

Esther A. Watson,22, of 323 Calthrop Ave., Syracuse, was charged with second-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

She is accused of stabbing her boyfriend in the back once with a knife Aug. 25 during an argument at a Jonesville Road home in the town of Hermon.

Willie Davis, 19, Syracuse, reportedly wanted to break up with Ms. Watson when she stabbed him, state police said. An unidentified person then jumped on Ms. Watson, pinning her down until troopers arrived.

Mr. Davis was treated at E.J. Noble Hospital, Gouverneur, for a minor wound.

Roger N. McLean,39, Brooklyn, was charged with first-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

He is accused of having more than 10 pounds of marijuana when he was stopped Sept. 6 on Trippany Road in Massena.

Jacob Runions,28, of 869B Route 420, Brasher Falls, was charged with second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

He is accused of having a forged check for $100 belonging to Kent-Erik Hedberg.

Cheryl Harrigan,41, of 100A River Road, Potsdam, was charged with felony aggravated driving while intoxicated.

She was reportedly stopped April 22 on River Road in the town of Potsdam. She registered a 0.21 percent blood alcohol content, police said. Ms. Harrigan was convicted of DWI May 28, 2008, in Norfolk Town Court.



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Category: Church Security

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