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Dan Hust | Democrat

Gordon Jenkins’ and Rochelle Massey’s G-Men Beauty Supplies store on Broadway in Monticello was briefly closed on Thursday by the State Police, as evidenced by a sign in the front door (inset). However, it was back open on Friday, and remains so.

Friends and foes react to Monticello Mayor’s arrest

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — February 16, 2010 — Monticello Mayor Gordon Jenkins considers Thursday’s arrest of him and his domestic and business partner, Rochelle Massey, to be another political game.
“It’s politics,” he explained yesterday. “There’s a group of people in this village who have a hatred for me.”
The charges do indeed carry a serious political risk for Jenkins, who would be forced out of his mayoralty halfway through his term if convicted of a felony charge.
He’s already been suspended without pay from his job as a corrections officer at Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg (though he said he plans to retire soon).
On Thursday, State Police raided his G-Men Beauty Supplies store on Broadway in Monticello, along with his home on Clinton Street.
Armed with a search warrant, they brought drug-sniffing dogs with them and confiscated everything from footwear to a small amount of marijuana.
Jenkins and Massey were charged that day with one count of trademark counterfeiting in the first degree, three counts of trademark counterfeiting in the third degree, three counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana.
Jenkins and Massey were arraigned in Thompson Town Court and released on $2,500 bail.
State Police said they had conducted a four-month investigation into Jenkins’ business dealings after being tipped off that he might be selling fake brand-name shoes.
Police said they bought from Jenkins’ store several pairs of Nike and Timberland shoes over those four months, all of which turned out to be counterfeit.
When they got to Jenkins’ and Massey’s home, they allegedly found two billy clubs, two daggers and some marijuana.
Jenkins said he had been warned about the investigation weeks before, but he took offense to the presence of drug-sniffing dogs.
“It wasn’t about sneakers,” he observed. “They were looking for drugs.”
Massey declined to comment. But the mayor said neither he nor Massey take illegal drugs, adding that he also has receipts showing how and where he bought the contested footwear, which he said is legitimate.
While he feels there is some racism at work in the village, Jenkins believes this is more a case of raw political gamesmanship.
“They [police] took a lot of election material for March 16,” he said, referring to the upcoming elections when Deputy Mayor TC Hutchins and Trustee Scott Schoonmaker’s seats will be up for grabs.
Hutchins and contender James Matthews are widely seen as favorable to Jenkins’ controversial tenure as mayor, while Schoonmaker and running mate Brian Soller are not.
Jenkins said he was disturbed that elections material containing “vital information” – names and addresses of voters and supporters, though he would not specify further – were taken from his home by police.
He suspects there are sinister motives behind the confiscation of that material.
“Why is it every black candidate in this village never gets fair treatment?” he wondered. “... We get treated like s---.”
Jenkins and Massey were bailed out by Jenkins’ friend, former village manager John Barbarite, who agreed with Jenkins that the matter may be related to politics.
“An interesting dialogue took place at the arraignment in open court between the judge, Perry Meltzer, and the assistant district attorney (ADA) who made the bail request,” said Barbarite, who did not identify the ADA. “After the ADA cited the charges and requested $10,000 bail for each of them, he added, ‘because he’s the mayor.’ This prompted the judge to say, ‘Because he's the mayor, you’re asking $10,000. What about Mrs. Massey? She’s not the mayor. How much bail do you want for her!’
“The ADA was totally caught off guard by the judge’s sharp reply,” Barbarite assessed. “To me, it was apparent the ADA put his foot in his mouth by saying ‘because he's the mayor,’ as if that should be a determining factor in setting bail.”
Jenkins believes trustees Schoonmaker, Carmen Rue and Victor Marinello, plus Village Manager Ray Nargizian, were some of the people behind his arrest. Barbarite agreed, alleging that the three trustees had been seen laughing about the matter at village hall.
Noting that a YouTube video of the arrest was posted shortly afterwards (with the sound of the unseen cameraman’s laughter), Barbarite remarked, “I also believe word of his arrest and search of his store was leaked to allow his political opponents an opportunity to embarrass him and Rochelle.”
“They have the money and political backing to do whatever they want,” lamented Jenkins, calling it Gestapo tactics. “I think they’re getting desperate, which is a shame to this community.”
Nargizian declined to comment, but the trustees and State Police denied being involved in a political setup.
“Certainly this investigation was not politically motivated,” said Captain Wayne Olson of the New York State Police.
Schoonmaker acknowledged the timing was poor, but “it is what it is.”
He doesn’t believe it has anything to do with politics.
“Gordon’s not running [for election],” he said, adding that “he’s innocent until he’s proven guilty.”
“I don’t see anything political,” agreed Rue. “Together with my husband Tom, we offer our sympathy to the mayor in light of his current legal problems. I’d like to remind everyone that in America, a person is innocent until proven guilty. I will not pass judgment at this time. That is the job of a judge and jury, not individual members of the Board of Trustees.”
Marinello, too, denied any involvement, calling accusations of politicking “absolutely ridiculous.”
“It’s an unfortunate chain of events that occurred yesterday,” he acknowledged on Friday, “but as far as I’m concerned, he’s still the mayor.
“Is this an embarrassment to the village? Yes,” Marinello continued. “... But the village has to keep going and work together.”
“The mayor will have his day in court. Until then, village business will continue,” promised Hutchins.
However, the deputy mayor agreed with Jenkins and Barbarite that politics are at work.
“I think this is just poor political maneuvering,” said Hutchins. “I hope and pray the mayor and his family will recover from this misfortune.”
Jenkins said to count on it.
“I’m going to fight back,” he vowed. “And I’m going to show them I’m not laying down for anybody.”

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