More prison time for re­peat threat of­fender

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Diane PineiroZucker dpzucker@free­manon­line. com DianeAtFree­man on Twit­ter

A man with a decades-long his­tory of mak­ing phone and mail threats to area stores and phar­ma­cies — some of which came from in­side the Ul­ster County Jail and state pris­ons — will spend sev­eral more years be­hind bars, the Ul­ster County District At­tor­ney’s Of­fice said Fri­day.

Kristofer Sur­dis, 43, of Glen­ford, was sen­tenced Thurs­day by Ul­ster County Judge Don­ald A. Wil­liams to seven years in state prison for one felony count of falsely re­port­ing an in­ci­dent.

Sur­dis has a crim­i­nal his­tory dat­ing to at least 1989, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have said. In May 2015, an Ul­ster County sher­iff’s de­tec­tive said most of the bomb threats in the county over the past 30 years had led in­ves­ti­ga­tors to Sur­dis.

On Fri­day, a spokesman for the state Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions and Com­mu­nity Su­per­vi­sion de­clined to re­spond to ques­tions about ways in which re­peat of­fenses might be avoided while Sur­dis is in prison.

The spokesman con­firmed Sur­dis has been in cus­tody at the Franklin Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity, a medium-se­cu­rity state prison in Franklin County, for a felony con­vic­tion of falsely re­port­ing an in­ci­dent in Delaware County. That four- to five-year sen­tence be­gan in July, ac­cord­ing to state records.

Sur­dis’ lat­est charge stemmed from a May 6 in­ci­dent when the Han­naford su­per­mar­ket at Kingston Plaza re­ceived a threat via phone from Sur­dis, who claimed a bomb was about to go off in the store. Po­lice searched the store and did not find any ex­plo­sives.

Sur­dis made the threat while an in­mate in the Ul­ster County Jail on an un­re­lated charge.

In Au­gust, Sur­dis ad­mit­ted mak­ing a threat against the store from a jail­house phone.

The Free­man’s archive shows Sur­dis also was:

• Con­victed in 1998 of call­ing in bomb threats to Delaware County busi­nesses.

• Con­victed in De­cem­ber 2008 of falsely re­port­ing an in­ci­dent.

• Charged in May 2015 with call­ing a bomb threat, from the jail, to the Kingston Plaza Han­naford store.

• Ad­di­tion­ally charged in May 2015 with send­ing a threat­en­ing let­ter to a Mar­garetville su­per­mar­ket from the jail.

• Charged again in May 2015 with send­ing a threat­en­ing let­ter to the Wendy’s fast-food restau­rant in the town of Ul­ster.

In 2000, a state ap­peals court up­held Sur­dis’ con­vic­tion and sen­tence of two to four years in state prison for mail­ing threat­en­ing let­ters to busi­nesses in Ul­ster and Delaware coun­ties while an in­mate in the Sul­li­van Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity.

In its Novem­ber 2005 opin­ion, the Ap­pel­late Di­vi­sion of state Supreme Court, Third Ju­di­cial Depart­ment, ref­er­enced Sur­dis’ agree­ment to have his fu­ture cor­re­spon­dence and phone con­ver­sa­tions mon­i­tored by cor­rec­tions of­fi­cials “in or­der to pre­vent re­oc­cur­rence of the con­duct which led to the in­stant con­vic­tion.”

Speak­ing as pres­i­dent of the New York State As­so­ci­a­tion of Crim­i­nal De­fense Lawyers about Thurs­day’s sen­tence, Ul­ster County Pub­lic De­fender An­drew Kossover said, “Un­for­tu­nately, our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem is un­der­re­sourced and some­what in­ad­e­quate when it comes to peo­ple with men­tal health is­sues.”

Kossover con­tin­ued, “Of course, peo­ple [with men­tal health is­sues] who con­duct them­selves un­ac­cept­ably and vi­o­late the law are de­serv­ing of treat­ment rather than in­car­cer­a­tion. ... We tend to ware­house these peo­ple, which is a sad re­flec­tion of our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem and the val­ues of our com­mu­nity in gen­eral.”

Kossover said the Ul­ster County Pub­lic De­fender’s Of­fice stopped rep­re­sent­ing Sur­dis “a long time ago” be­cause of threats he made to the de­fender’s of­fice in Kingston. “This is what he does, I guess,” Kossover said.

Ac­cord­ing to Kossover, Sur­dis was rep­re­sented in the most re­cent case by a con­flict de­fender from the Dutchess County Pub­lic De­fender’s Of­fice. In an email, Dutchess County Pub­lic De­fender Thomas An­gell wrote, “We have no com­ment on this dis­po­si­tion.”


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