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Serving Cortland and surrounding communities since 1867

2013 daily No. 54



Pottorff’s friends testify


Greek Peak sale
set for March 19
Procedures for the auction
of nearly all of the Virgil resort
were approved Thursday in
federal bankruptcy court.
— Page 3

City council may
borrow for paving
Aldermen will consider at tonight’s meeting a plan to use a
$1 million line of credit to pave
more streets than the city can
usually afford to pave.
— Page 3

Try a new style
of meatloaf
This week’s “My Kitchen,
My Refuge” features a meatloaf that includes hot Italian
sausage and is covered by a
cream sauce made with soy
— Page 5


Knicks lose ’Melo
but win game
Despite losing Carmelo Anthony to injury, the New York
Knicks rallied past the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.
— Page 11


Tomorrow’s Weather:

A chance of rain showers
in the afternoon. Highs in
the upper 30s.
— More on page 7

Ask Amy....... 15
Bridge........... 15
Classified.. 18-19
Comics.......... 17
Community..... 4
Crossword.... 15

Deaths............ 2
Editorials......... 6
Horoscope.... 15
Lottery............ 2
Police/Fire...... 3
TV Grid......... 16

Follow us
on Twitter

To order a subscription to
The Cortland Standard
please call: 756-5665

Sketch by Larry Seil/Cortland Standard

Nicole Willis testifies in Cortland County Court Monday during the murder trial of Keith Pottorff in this courtoom drawing. District Attorney Mark Suben is at left, Judge Julie Campbell is at top left, and members of
the jury are seated at right.

Witnesses were with him for much of the week his wife was killed
Staff Reporter


CORTLAND — A couple who had
been camping with Keith Pottorff at
the Grassroots Festival in Trumansburg when he was charged with murdering his wife testified Monday that
they were in his house during that
week, and that Pottorff had told them
his wife was in Pennsylvania visiting
her mother.
Santo Oliver and his fiancé, Nicole
Willis, had known Pottorff for several
months before Janet Pottorff’s death
in mid-July. They said they were part
of a group of friends who had done
cocaine, hallucinogenic mushrooms
and other drugs together.
Pottorff, 44, told police and Cortland Regional Medical Center, where
his wife worked as a nurse, that Janet,
53, was sick in bed on July 18 and 19
with migraines. Her body was found
by state police tied up in a shed behind the property at 5769 Dog Hollow
Road in Cuyler on July 20.
Janet Pottorff was last seen on Tues-

day, July 17, when her husband picked
her up from work around 4 p.m., taking her to the veterinarian to pick up
one of their five dogs.
District Attorney Mark Suben
played in court messages on Keith
Pottorff’s cell phone from around that
time from Janet Pottorff, where she
called multiple times asking why he
was late picking her up.
“I’m waiting outside. Anytime
you’d like to pull in would be nice,”
she is heard saying on the voicemail.
Pottorff’s ex-husband, Mark Biers of
the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department, listened to the message in court
on Friday and confirmed it was her.
Through testimony, Suben attempted on Monday to fill in the gaps of
what happened before and after she
was picked up from work and brought
home on July 17, the night he believes
she was killed. A pathologist testified
last week that Pottorff appeared to
have been dead for at least three days.
No one allegedly saw more of Keith
Pottorff during those few days than
Oliver, 39, of Lincklaen Center Road


in DeRuyter. He was the first witness
to take the stand Monday and testified
to being at the Pottorff residence on
July 18 and 19. Pottorff gave him a
tour of the house, including his bedroom. Oliver said he saw no sign that
anyone else was there.
Pottorff had picked him up about
8:30 a.m. on July 17 to take him to
Norwich, Oliver said. Over the course
of that day, he said they went to and
from Syracuse several times before
Pottorff finally was able to purchase
$250 worth of cocaine. By that time,
he was already late to pick up his wife,
Pottorff told Oliver.
Pottorff contacted him again around
6:45 on Tuesday night, which Oliver
said was unusual.
“After he would go pick up his wife
he would never come back. He would
only come back when his wife went
back to work,” Oliver said.
On that evening, Pottorff picked
up Oliver, Willis and another woman,
Lisa Simonetti, and brought them to
See FRIENDS, page 2

Fracking talk
with Kennedy
didn’t derail
Associated Press
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo
said Monday a discussion over a new
study about hydraulic fracturing with
his former brother-in-law, Robert F.
Kennedy Jr., didn’t derail an imminent
approval of the natural gas drilling
method that could remain in limbo for
another year.
Cuomo confirmed that he’d spoken
with the environmental activist — himself an opponent of fracking unless it
can be proven safe — but maintained
that no approval of limited test wells
was coming before their conversation.
“It’s not accurate that we were about
to go forward and then there was a discussion with him that changed my mind,
that’s just not accurate,” Cuomo said.
The Associated Press reported over
the weekend that Kennedy and two officials familiar with Cuomo’s thinking
nearly a month ago said Cuomo had
come closer than ever to deciding to approve limited test wells, although Cuomo hadn’t made the decision.
That’s when Kennedy discussed with
Cuomo a new $1 million study that was
announced in mid-February to conduct
an exhaustive health study of people
living near hydrofracking wells in
The breadth of the study and involvement of an independent foundation
without a political bent on fracking is
thought to be able to trump other, conflicting studies performed so far.
“I think the issue suddenly got simple
for him,” Kennedy told the AP. Then
Kennedy paraphrased Cuomo in their
discussions: “ ‘If it’s causing health
problems, I really don’t want it in New
York state. And if it’s not causing health
problems, we should figure out a way
we can do it.’ ”
Cuomo agreed with that characterization Monday.
“It sounds like what I’ve said, it
sounds like what I’ve said to you 9 million times — that this has great possible
economic benefit for the state, in a part
of the state that badly needs jobs, but
you have to make sure it’s safe and there
is no health risk,” Cuomo said. “So that
is my general position.”
The study by the Geisinger Health
See FRACKING, page 2

Hess to get rid of gas stations as part of shift in focus
Company has 2 sites in Cortland
NEW YORK (AP) — Hess is getting out of the
gas station business and ridding itself of its energy
trading and marketing businesses, as it shifts its focus further into exploration and production.
Shedding the green and white gas stations that
stretch from New Hampshire to Florida, the vast
majority of which are owned by Hess rather than
franchisees, will allow the company to broaden exploration and production capabilities. The company
operates two stations in Cortland, one on Route 281
and one at the corner of Port Watson and Pendleton
Spokesman Jon Pepper would not elaborate further on the sale.
Hess, based in New York, has already announced
the sale of U.S. oil storage terminals and plans to


close a New Jersey refinery as it exits the volatile
refining business. Other energy companies are doing much the same, focusing the booming domestic drilling and also high-risk drilling operations at
deep-water drill sites.
The company will also nominate a slate of six independent directors to its board, replacing six that
already hold seats.
The announcement arrives about a month after
the hedge fund Elliott Management, one of the
company’s largest shareholders, accused the board
of “poor oversight,” and said that the company’s
management was responsible for more than a “decade of failures.”
Elliott, which holds a 4 percent stake in Hess
Corp., is pushing to seat five outsiders on the
But Hess rejected Elliott’s nominees in a letter to


Cuomo won’t back US, China make deal
on N. Korea sanctions
gun law changes
ALBANY — Republicans in the state Senate under pressure from outraged upstate gun owners
said they are trying to scale back parts of the landmark gun control regulations they helped rush into
law after the Connecticut school massacre.
But Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said they aren’t open to any
substantive changes in the law that easily passed
in the Senate, essentially killing the chance of
Republican changes beyond technical fixes to
the law.
Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos said
Monday that his conference is looking to change
the law’s limit of seven rounds in magazines that
commonly hold 10. He said one possibility would
be to lift the limit inside a gun owner’s home.

— Page 9

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security
Council was set to hold closed consultations on
North Korea and non-proliferation today after U.N.
diplomats said the United States and China reached
agreement on a
new draft sanctions resolution to
punish the country
for its latest nuclear test.
The diplomats,
condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made, said the United
States was expected to circulate a draft resolution to the full council.

— Page 20

shareholders Monday, accusing the firm of trying to
disrupt progress it has already made in reshaping
itself. It said that Elliott hasn’t taken into account
how much company shares have risen since it began to shed previous business models.
Hess said the nominees chosen by Elliott would
effectively dismantle the company.
Elliott released a statement later Monday saying that while Hess’ moves incorporate parts of its
suggestions, they “fall dramatically short of what’s
needed.” It touted its own slate of five board nominees, which include four with energy industry experience, and questioned the independence of Hess’
slate, noting that one of the nominees has ties to the
Hess family.
Hess shares fell sharply after the recession, as did
See HESS, page 2

Off Beat


Ketchup crash
snarls traffic in Nev.
RENO, Nev. (AP) — They didn’t need any ambulances, but they could’ve used some fries.
What looked like a potentially grim mess Thursday on
U.S. Interstate 80 in Reno, Nev., was just the aftermath of
a wreck involving a semi-trailer truck hauling thousands
of bottles of Heinz ketchup.
The Reno Gazette-Journal reports no one was hurt when
the truck driver swerved to avoid another vehicle and hit
a bridge in the median. The crash ripped open the trailer,
dumping the load and snarling traffic more than an hour.
Nevada Patrol Sgt. Janay Sherven said there was “red
everywhere.” She told the newspaper, “No bodies, no
people, just ketchup.”
State transportation crews used snowplows to help clear
the highway connecting Reno to Lake Tahoe.

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