Fallen Deputies

Deputy Simon J. Bermingham
December 13, 1865-January 10, 1912

Early on the morning of January 10, 1912, Sheriff Harley E. Hamil received information that a young male suspect told neighbors he shot his father during a quarrel. Accompanied by several deputies, Sheriff Hamil responded to the scene in the Village of Scottsville.

Despite warnings from villagers that the suspect was known to be a violent and dangerous person, Sheriff Hamil and the deputies approached the house in which the suspect was barricaded.

They had nearly reached the house before the first volley came with murderous suddenness. Four men fell victim. Deputy Sheriff Simon J. Bermingham of Rochester was shot in the temple and died. Deputy Hubert M. Abbott of Rochester was grazed on the cheek by a bullet and received a charge of shot in the shoulder. Deputy Edward Jenkins of Scottsville received a serious neck wound. Deputy William Vokes, also of Scottsville, was wounded in the arm by a bullet. Sheriff Hamil narrowly escaped death while attempting to remove the body of his murdered comrade, Deputy Bermingham.

For a period of four hours, bullets rained on the house. The suspect finally gave up and was arrested for killing his father and Deputy Bermingham. He was convicted of first degree murder and put to death in the electric chair.

Special Deputy C. Fred Sova
E.O.W. September 8. 1931

In the early morning hours of Monday September 7th, 1931, Special Deputy C. Fred Sova and his partner Special Deputy Cyril Pemberton observed the light from a flashlight reflecting off a basement window. It was then the die cast and the peace of the early morning would be shattered by gunfire. After a foot chase, the suspect, twenty-seven year old Frank Nentarz was taken into custody of the two Special Deputies. The barefoot Cat Burger would not go quietly. After a brief and incomplete pat down search the suspect was handcuffed with his hands in front of him and with a Special Deputy on each side, they walked back to the Sheriff’s patrol car. Nentarz somehow was able to reach into pocket and remove a small .25 caliber automatic and fired at least two shots before being subdued by the butt ends of a Special Deputies Handguns. Yet, the felon’s aim was true and a bullet had passed through the stomach of Special Deputy Sova. Unfortunately, and with his wife by his bedside, Special Deputy C. Fred Sova died at 4:00 PM on Tuesday September 8th, 1931.

Special Deputy Joseph G. Munz
E.O.W. February 26, 1932

Special Deputy Joseph G. Munz, 57 was struck by an automobile while directing traffic on Clover Street. Special Deputy Munz would succumb to his injuries dying hours later on February 26th, 1932.

Deputy William Marshall
September 17, 1894 – April 3, 1946

On April 3, 1946, a Monroe County Sheriff’s car was found in a road culvert on Scottsville Road near the Scottsville Village line. The car had overturned three times before coming to rest. There was no indication of trouble prior to the accident, nor were there any witnesses to explain the mishap.

Deputy Marshall’s body was located about 20 feet from the vehicle. He died at the scene. His partner, Deputy Lester Maine, was found on the ground close to the vehicle and was taken to Park Avenue Hospital suffering from a knee injury, fractured ribs and contusions and a head injury.

Deputy Maine had been in the back seat of the patrol car taking inventory of recovered stolen property at the time of the accident. He had no idea as to the cause of the accident.

Motorists that observed the Sheriff’s car just prior to the accident reported that the vehicle was being driven at a normal rate of speed.

Deputy James I. Conheady
E.O.W. March 25, 1947

Deputy James I. Conheady 51 suffers a heart attack and dies behind the wheel of his patrol car after serving court papers on March 25, 1947.

Deputy John Pullano
March 29, 1928 – May 16, 1957

At about 11:00 a.m. on May 11, 1957, Deputy John Pullano was operating his motorcycle south on Scottsville Road while responding to an accident on Scottsville Road at North Road in the village of Scottsville.

A station wagon was southbound on Scottsville Road directly in front of Deputy Pullano. The station wagon driver stated she made a right turn onto Ballantyne Road as Deputy Pullano was passing on the right. When the vehicles collided, Deputy Pullano was thrown about 10 feet. As the deputy fell to the ground, he struck his head on a rock, leaving him unconscious. Pullano was not wearing a motorcycle helmet. Helmets were not required and were generally not worn at the time.

Deputy Pullano remained unconscious in a hospital for five days until he died of a fractured skull and a brain hemorrhage. As a result of the accident and tragic death of Deputy John Pullano, Sheriff Albert Skinner and the Rochester Police Department made it mandatory that their motorcycle patrols wear helmets.

Undersheriff George A. Conway
September 15, 1897 – August 13, 1965

On September 13, 1965, at about 4:45 p.m. Undersheriff George Conway and his wife, Alice, were returning from a New York State Sheriffs’ Association meeting held in Lido Beach, Long Island. The couple was headed westbound on Rt. 17 when a large eastbound truck crossed over to the westbound lane to avoid hitting a car that had stopped. The truck collided head on with the Conway vehicle. Both Undersheriff Conway and his wife died at the accident scene in the Town of Owego, Tioga County.

Conway was a deputy sheriff from January 1926 to June 1936. He was promoted to Chief Deputy in June 1936 and was appointed Undersheriff to Albert W. Skinner in February 1938.

Deputy Harold E. Knitter
E.O.W. May 29, 1966

On May 20, 1966 while assigned to duties at the penitentiary suffered a fatal stroke. Deputy Harold E. Knitter was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital where he passed away.

Deputy Harold E. Knitter was assigned to road-patrol most of his career, working the Scottsvile, Gates, and Wheatland area. Deputy Harold E. Knitter was assigned to the penitentiary for a six month period after a surgical procedure.

Deputy Francis E. Dombrowski
March 9, 1945 – February 6, 1970

On the evening of January 31, 1969, Deputy Francis Dombrowski was involved in an accident on Scottsville Road near North Road in the Village of Scottsville. Although the circumstances of the accident were not known, it was believed to be the result of a violator pursuit. Witnesses stated that Deputy Dombrowski had engaged his lights and siren just before the accident with an oncoming car. The force of the accident nearly cut the patrol car in half. Both Deputy Dombrowski and the other driver were trapped in their vehicles.

Deputy Dombrowski was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital where he remained unconscious for several months. He died February 6, 1970, from injuries sustained in the accident.

Sergeant Robert Skelton
April 27, 1939 – June 23, 1972

On the rainy evening of June 21, 1972, Sergeant Robert Skelton, Jr., affectionately known as “Whitey” to his friends and colleagues, was on routine patrol in the Town of Pittsford. At about 8:30 p.m., Sergeant Skelton was southbound on Clover Street when an intoxicated northbound driver crossed into Skelton’s lane. Although Sergeant Skelton pulled to the right, he could not avoid the oncoming car. He was taken to the hospital, where he died 30 hours later. The other driver was taken to the hospital in serious condition, but did survive his injuries. He was arrested for driving while intoxicated.

Sergeant Skelton began his career with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in July 1962 and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in April 1971.

Sergeant Peter J. Rotolo
April 23, 1921 – September 20, 1974

On September 9, 1974, a fight broke out between two inmates assigned to kitchen duties in the Monroe County Jail. Sergeant Rotolo and several other deputies responded to the incident. During the struggle that ensued, Sergeant Rotolo was thrown against the wall by an inmate. Sergeant Rotolo suffered a massive heart attack and slumped to the floor. A jail nurse provided mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and he was transported to Rochester General Hospital. Sergeant Rotolo remained in a coma until his death on September 20.

Sergeant Rotolo joined the Monroe County Penitentiary Staff in 1958 and was later transferred to the Monroe County Jail when the penitentiary was closed.

Corporal Catherine M. Crawford
July 20, 1948 – March 5, 1995

In May 1993, Corporal Catherine M. Crand to break up a fight between two inmates. As a result of this altercation, Corporal Crawford sustained injuries to her hand and knee. The knee injury required surgery to repair the damage, but prior to the scheduled operation, Corporal Crawford experienced serious breathing difficulties. After extensive medical testing, it was determined that Corporal Crawford had developed blood clots that lodged in her lungs as a result of the injury to her knee.

Surgery to remove the blood clots was ruled out due to their location. After further tests, Corporal Crawford was accepted as a candidate for a lung transplant. It was while waiting for the transplant that Corporal Crawford died on March 5, 1995.

Corporal Crawford began her career with the Sheriff’s Office on October 4, 1982 as a part-time deputy and was promoted to full-time status in July 1985. In November 1992, she was promoted to the rank of Corporal.