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Local News

May 3, 2014

Four students arrested, charged with attempted tree vandalism

Four Hartwick College basketball players were arrested this week for allegedly trying to destroy a small tree, Oneonta city police said Thursday.

Matthew Petruccine, 21, of Saratoga Springs; Jacob Karker, 22, of Howe Caves; Steven Donovan, 22, of Franklin, Mass.; and Jared Suderley, 22, of Newport, were charged with attempted criminal mischief, a class B misdemeanor.

At about 1 a.m. on Thursday, police received reports by individuals who witnessed the four males surrounding a sapling in the area of 25 Elm St. in Oneonta. According to witnesses, two of the men grabbed the sapling and bent it all the way over, trying to uproot it. The other two men were cheering and recording. The tree didn’t sustain any major damage, police said.

After the men were arrested, they were each released on $100 bail and will appear in court at a later date, police said.

Lt. Douglas Brenner of the Oneonta Police Department said David Hutchison, Oneonta’s environmental board chair, puts a lot of work and effort into buying new trees and planting them around the city. Brenner said there was a problem with people vandalizing trees in the city this fall. This act was senseless and unnecessary, he said.

“It’s frustrating,” Brenner said. “Why hurt trees? They’re harmless. It’s just silly.”

In an emailed response from Hartwick College, Vice Resident for Student Affairs Meg Nowak said. “Accountability for decisions made is an important part of student development.  The Division of Student Affairs is responsible for enforcement of community standards. As such, any violation of local, state and/or federal law also may be subject to College disciplinary action regardless of whether occurring on or off campus.”

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