Suspended without pay: Columbia Co. Sheriff's Deputy among four people charged in connection to alleged July assault

WNYT Staff
Updated: October 08, 2020 08:04 PM
Created: October 07, 2020 07:53 PM

A Columbia County sheriff's deputy has been suspended without pay after she and her husband were charged with felony Gang Assault in the second-degree and other violations on Wednesday.  Kelly Rosenstrach is also charged with Official Misconduct. Two other men including IRS agent Bryan Haag and local contractor Cory Gaylord are also facing the same Gang Assault charge and additional offenses stemming from a Fourth of July celebration at the Rosenstrach residence in Kinderhook.  The party ended with local mechanic Harold Handy III hospitalized following an serious assault according to authorities including Sheriff David Bartlett, New York State Police and Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka.  Four days after the incident, Sheriff Bartlett told NewsChannel 13 this was a "drunken brawl." 

A Columbia County Grand Jury reported the sealed indictments on September 30th, 2020.  Those records were unsealed this week and the defendants were arraigned on the charges on Wednesday."

Alex Rosenstrach is also charged with Assault in the second-degree, a class D felony, assault in the third-degree, class A misdemeanors, three counts, unlawful imprisonment in the first-degree, a class E felony, coercion in the third-degree, a class A misdemeanor and reckless endangerment in the second-degree, a class A misdemeanor.

Kelly Rosenstrach is also charged with Coercion in the third-degree, a class A misdemeanor and Unlawful imprisonment in the first-degree a class E felony.  

Bryan Haag is also facing an Assault in the second-degree, a class D felony charge.  Along with Assault in the third degree, class A misdemeanors, three counts and Unlawful imprisonment in the first-degree, a class E felony.

Cory Gaylord was also charged with Assault in the third-degree, class D Felony, two counts, Unlawful imprisonment in the first-degree a class E felony and Coercion in the third-degree, a class A misdemeanor.

The Gang Assault charge all four are facing court papers reveal "the defendants, while acting in concert with one another, with intent to cause physical injury to another person, and while aided by one another, each of whom was actually present, caused serious physical injury to such person.

Attorney Paul Freeman represents Harold Handy III and his wife, who was also present at the party.  He told NewsChannel 13 an order of protection was put in place and his clients are grateful.  Freeman said both still suffer from the events of the day in question, "Harold is still suffering. He's suffering both physically and emotionally. He's still seeks medical treatment. He had a traumatic brain injury as a result of this incident and the concussion impact and symptoms he still suffers from."  Freeman also adding, "This is the first step in the process and in the end an indictment are the charges, but the conviction is what Harold is looking for.  The NYSP Special Investigations Unit did the majority of the most recent investigation you know, he wanted to thank them as well for their involvement because of the circumstances of the fact that Kelly Briscoe Rosenstrach was a member of the Columbia county Sheriffs Office and the Sheriff's Office investigating themselves in terms of the situation with one of their other members involved, it seemed more appropriate to have somebody else and that was the Special Investigations Unit."

While the court documents appear to show the men participated in the assault, all four defendants the indictment reads "did restrain another person under circumstances which exposed the latter to a risk of serious physical injury to wit: on the aforesaid date and at the aforesaid place, the defendants, while acting in concert with one another, restrained another person under circumstances which exposed the latter to a risk of serious physical injury."

The Rosenstrach's and Gaylord the indictment also states, "did compel or induce a person to abstain from engaging in conduct in which he or she has a legal right to engage by means of instilling in him or her a fear that, if the demand is not complied with, the actor or another will cause physical injury to a person, o wit: on the aforesaid date and at the aforesaid place, the defendants, while acting in concert with one another, compelled a person to abstain from telephoning 9-1-1, which he or she has a legal right to engage, by means of instilling in him or her a fear that, if the demand is not complied with, the actors or another will cause physical injury to a person."

The details surrounding the Official Misconduct counts Deputy Rosenstrach is facing are also outlined in the indictment, reading in part "did knowingly refrain from performing a duty imposed upon her by law or clearly inherent in the nature of her office, to wit: on the aforesaid date and at the aforesaid place, the defendant, a duly sworn Columbia County Deputy Sheriff, with intent to obtain the benefit of concealing an assault by her and/or another, or others, prevented another from summoning emergency personnel." Additionally, the documents read "the defendant, a duly sworn Columbia County Deputy Sheriff, with intent conceal her participation and/or that of another or others, did access computer records of the Columbia County Sheriff and/or relay the confidential information therein to another," at the Columbia County Sheriff's Office on July sixth and July seventh, 2020. The complaint also alleges that Gaylord "while intoxicated, recklessly discharged a firearm in close proximity to people and houses."

Attorney William Roberts represents Kelly Rosenstrach.  He told NewsChannel 13 by phone, 

“This was not a gang assault. The fact Kelly Rosenstrach is being lumped into this is a miscarriage of justice.  The allegations my client was involved in any wrong doing are absurd.  She was 30 weeks pregnant at the time.  Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s enough information out there that reflects the real events that unfolded on July 4th. The indictment gives the impression there is a concerted physical assault on the complainant, which is factually inaccurate.  The complainant showed up at the Rosenstrach’s holiday party highly intoxicated and from 11 pm to 12 in the morning, had an additional 12 shots of alcohol.  He attempted to start a fight on the property with another guest, Alex Rosenstrach intervened and attempted to quell the complainant’s anger and aggression.  Over the period of approximately 45 minutes, the complainant got into at least three to four physical altercations with different individuals.  He was intubated inside the ambulance because he was physically attempting to harm the first responders trying to help him on the way to the hospital.  Any injuries suffered by the complainant in this case was the direct result of individuals fending off a violent party guest who had consumed far too much alcohol."

Attorney Michael Howard represents Gaylord and says they look forward to having their day in court, "and we believe we are going to be able to establish that he is 100-percent innocent.  It is my belief that the individual that was injured instigated, started arguments and physical confrontations with several people.  Cory Gaylord did not have a physical altercation with Mr. Handy in any form or fashion, in fact, all he did was assist him with EMS.  We allege the evidence is going to show Mr. Handy was impaired at such a level, this thing about the intubation and what physical care he needed at the time was caused by intoxication and other factors.  There might be motivations here that have to do with financial interest, and don't reflect what actually transpired that evening."

Paul DerOhannesian, attorney for Bryan Hagg, released the following statement: 

"This is a case of a highly intoxicated, verbally abusive, belligerent man, who is looking to profit from his drinking. Bryan Haag did what all living things instinctively when physically attacked and threatened - he protected himself. Mr. Haag's actions were justified. This is a money grab and shakedown dressed up as an indictment." 

Sheriff David Bartlett released the following statement:

"From the moment that my Deputy Sheriffs were dispatched by Columbia County 911 they began to actively investigate this incident. I brought in my Internal Affairs unit and Criminal Investigators to assist. I also recognized that there could be the perception of a conflict of interest, as this incident may have involved one of my off-duty Deputy Sheriffs. Due to this, I turned to the New York State Police and asked that they handle the investigation. Initially, the State Police declined to take over an investigation that was assigned to the Sheriff’s Office, but they offer the assistance of the Special Investigations unit.

I have been, and am still unable to comment about the specifics of this incident because of the ongoing criminal case, and the personnel matter involving the off-duty Deputy Sheriff.

Now that there have been arrests made in this incident, I have the utmost confidence in Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka, and his Office to prosecute these individuals.

Deputy Kelly Rosenstrach has been suspended without pay, effective immediately."

NewsChannel 13 reached out to Attorney Mark Portin who represents Alex Rosenstrach and are waiting to hear back.

DIGITAL EXTRA: D.A. announcement of arrests in Harold Handy III assault


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