Wife’s tale of days of abuse puts tor­mented vet­eran be­hind bars

The Buffalo News - - HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL - By Thomas J. Pro­haska

Cody To­maselli joined the Army at 17, spent nearly four years in Iraq and Ger­many and had “dozens of kills” that left him with se­vere post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der.

But his claims that PTSD led him to three days of vi­o­lence and threats against his wife last year did lit­tle to sway a judge to lessen his pun­ish­ment. To­maselli, 33, was sen­tenced last week to seven years in state prison for at­tempted kid­nap­ping dur­ing a three-day or­deal that ended in the park­ing lot of a Ni­a­gara Falls ele­men­tary school.

To­maselli is “dan­ger­ous and un­sta­ble,” his wife, Ni­c­hole, said last week in Ni­a­gara County In­te­grated Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Court.

“I’m ask­ing for jus­tice not only for my­self but for the other women he was in re­la­tion­ships with,” Ni­c­hole To­maselli told State Supreme Court Jus­tice John F. O’Don­nell.

She is the third woman whose mar­riage to Iraq War vet­eran Cody To­maselli al­legedly ended in vi­o­lence, but she’s the first to see him con­victed.

From April 25 to 27, Cody To­maselli “ter­ror­ized” his wife in their Ni­a­gara Falls mo­bile home, Ni­a­gara County As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Lisa M. Baehre said. He held her cap­tive, threat­ened her with a knife, rammed her head into the bath­room door, smashed the locks to keep her from es­cap­ing and de­stroyed her cell­phone, Baehre said.

De­fense at­tor­ney Randy S. Mar-

That’s a lot to un­pack, and we chose to look at the part about the young peo­ple. Is he right? Has there been a 20 per­cent in­crease in young peo­ple com­ing back to Buf­falo?

A look at the data

Cuomo re­lied on the Cen­sus Bureau’s Amer­i­can Com­mu­nity Sur­vey for pop­u­la­tion es­ti­mates for peo­ple ages 25 to 34. The gover­nor’s spokes­woman pointed to Erie County data from 2010, the year Cuomo was elected, through 2017. The es­ti­mated num­ber of peo­ple in that age group in Erie County grew by 21 per­cent. Be­tween 2000 and 2010, the num­ber of peo­ple in that age group fell by 8.6 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the data.

Cuomo said Buf­falo, but he used data for Erie County.

Buf­falo is in Erie County, but sep­a­rate pop­u­la­tion sta­tis­tics are avail­able for Buf­falo.

Anal­y­sis of Cen­sus Bureau data for Buf­falo shows an even greater in­crease. The 25-34 age group in­creased from 38,051 in 2010 to 49,207 in 2017, a 29 per­cent in­crease, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Cen­sus and Amer­i­can Com­mu­nity Sur­vey.

We reached out to Wil­liam Frey, a se­nior fel­low at the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Pol­icy Pro­gram at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, which em­ploys ex­perts of dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives. Frey has stud­ied the move­ments of dif­fer­ent pop­u­la­tion groups, in­clud­ing mil­len­ni­als. Frey said “some of this gain” is be­cause the large mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion that lived in Buf­falo aged into this co­hort, not be­cause peo­ple re­turned to the area from else­where.

Erie and Ni­a­gara coun­ties, ac­cord­ing to a Jan­uary study by the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, re­ported a neg­a­tive net do­mes­tic mi­gra­tion of those 25 to 34 years old be­tween 2012 and 2017. It is pos­si­ble that Buf­falo at­tracted some young adult mi­grants from the rest of the Buf­falo-Cheek­towaga-Ni­a­gara Falls metro area, or had gains from im­mi­gra­tion from other coun­tries, said Frey, the study’s au­thor.

Look­ing strictly at data for Buf­falo, we wanted to see if the 29 per­cent growth in young peo­ple was mainly from peo­ple who had aged in place. The age range we’re look­ing at, 25 to 34, would have been ages 18 to 27 in 2010. The 2010 cen­sus breaks out the pop­u­la­tion by age each year. The pop­u­la­tion of 18- to 27-year-olds in 2010 was 49,734. The pop­u­la­tion of 25- to 34-year-olds in 2017 was 49,207.

The data sug­gest “there is quite a bit of ag­ing in place,” Frey said. But some of those num­bers could re­flect do­mes­tic out-mi­gra­tion coun­tered by a sim­i­lar im­mi­gra­tion from abroad, he said. Show­ing sim­i­lar num­bers for this co­hort does sug­gest that not many peo­ple left, he said.

E.J. McMa­hon, re­search direc­tor of the con­ser­va­tive Em­pire Cen­ter think tank, also said that while the pop­u­la­tion of young peo­ple in­creased, it’s un­clear how many of those peo­ple came back to Buf­falo. Some of the gains could be be­cause peo­ple stayed, or they could be from refugee re­set­tle­ment pro­grams, McMa­hon said.

McMa­hon, who has tracked New York’s pop­u­la­tion shifts and is a fre­quent Cuomo critic, said that ev­ery com­mu­nity has some peo­ple who leave and some who stay, and that is “clearly” what hap­pened in Buf­falo.

“On a net ba­sis, Buf­falo is do­ing bet­ter with this pop­u­la­tion seg­ment than it has in the past,” he said. “From this, the gover­nor and others weave a story of mil­len­ni­als flock­ing back to re­de­vel­oped in­ner cities, be­cause they are dif­fer­ent from pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions and don’t live in sub­urbs. That’s grossly over­stated, in my view.”

Our rul­ing

Cuomo said there has been a 20 per­cent in­crease in young peo­ple “com­ing back” to Buf­falo af­ter a decade when their num­bers fell by 10 per­cent.

Cen­sus fig­ures show a 29 per­cent in­crease in peo­ple ages 25 to 34. In the pre­vi­ous 10 years, the size of that age group fell by 10 per­cent.

If the gover­nor had just said their num­bers grew, he would have been gen­er­ally cor­rect. He ac­tu­ally un­der­stated Buf­falo’s in­crease.

But he said they were “com­ing back.” The data he re­lied on does not prove they came back. In fact, one expert called the claim they were com­ing to be “grossly over­stated.” While the num­ber of younger peo­ple liv­ing in Buf­falo in­creased, the cause could be a large mil­len­nial pop­u­la­tion ag­ing into this age group, not solely be­cause peo­ple are re­turn­ing.

So his state­ment is par­tially ac­cu­rate but makes a sweep­ing, un­proven con­clu­sion. It is un­clear how many young peo­ple have re­turned to Buf­falo, or set­tled there af­ter liv­ing else­where.

We rate Cuomo’s state­ment Half True.

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