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For Release: Thursday, June 6, 2019

DEC Announces Sentencing of Man for 2018 Assault on an Environmental Conservation Police Officer

A man who injured and dragged a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Police Officer (ECO) on a UTV that refused to stop was sentenced to serve one year in jail for the offense, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today. Town of Wheatfield Town Justice Gary Strenkoski sentenced James J. Olscamp, 31, of Sanborn, to serve one year in the Niagara County Jail after pleading guilty to assault in the third degree, a Class A misdemeanor. In addition, the defendant is required to pay restitution to the State in the amount of $2,237 for equipment destroyed during the course of the assault.

"Across the state, DEC's Environmental Conservation Police Officers are out in our communities protecting the environment, wildlife, and our citizens, but they also deal with the dangerous cases typically faced by local and state law enforcement officials," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "The defendant in this case purposely injured our officer in an attempt to evade charges, and I thank the Niagara County Sheriff's Department and District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek and her staff for their help in bringing this case to justice."

The charges stem from an incident that occurred on July 22, 2018, when ECO Shea Mathis responded to a report of trespassing on private property on Liberty Road in the town of Wheatfield. When ECO Mathis attempted to stop two men who were operating an ATV and a UTV, both operators refused.

Dean R. Banks, 52, of Niagara Falls, was driving the ATV and nearly ran over Mathis when he sped from the scene. When ECO Mathis attempted to place James J. Olscamp, 30, of Sanborn, under arrest, the man refused to stop, dragging Mathis while fleeing. ECO Mathis sustained cuts and bruises to his legs and arms and injuries to his forehead after being dragged an estimated 400 yards.

ECO Mathis requested assistance through the County 911 system. Niagara County Deputy Sheriff's responded along with New York State Police and U.S. Department of Homeland Security officers. ECO Mathis was transported to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital and released that night. Twitter posts by Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour generated tips that led investigators to tracking down the subjects.

"I'd like to thank the DEC officers for their dedication in bringing this case to fruition and the work of ADA Ryan Parisi for finalizing the results," Niagara County District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek said. "I believe this is a fair result for what the defendant did in putting the officer in extreme danger."

Banks previously plead guilty to attempted reckless endangerment, a Class B misdemeanor, and ATV trespassing, a violation, and paid $1,030 in fines and surcharges.

The investigation was led by DEC Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI) Inv. Robert Peinkofer with the assistance of ECOs under the direction of Lt. Robert O'Connor and Capt. Jesse Paluch. Also assisting were the Niagara County Sheriff's Office and the New York State Police.

The case was prosecuted by the Niagara County District Attorney's Office, headed by District Attorney Wojtaszek, and ADA Parisi.

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