Citing 2008 Massena mutilation case, Griffo votes with majority as state Senate passes bill to create registry for violent felons
Monday, May 12, 2014 - 5:34 pm

Citing the 2008 mutilation of Andrew Lesperance in Massena, Sen Joseph Griffo today voted with the majority as the state Senate passed “Brittany’s Law,” a bill that would create a public registry of convicted violent felons.

Griffo, R-Rome, represents much of eastern St. Lawrence County, including Massena and Potsdam.

Lesperance was nearly killed in a horrific assault by a convicted violent felon in Massena in January 2008. Harry Klages II attacked Lesperance after a party and gouged out one of his eyes, castrated and partially disembowled him and nearly cut off his left leg.

Klages is now serving a 38-year prison sentence. Lesperance took nearly three years to recover in hospitals and under residential care.

Brittany’s Law is named for 12-year-old Brittany Passalacqua, who was brutally murdered along with her mother, Helen Buchel, at their home in Geneva, Ontario County in 2009. The killer, John Edward Brown, was on parole at the time of the murder. He was released early from prison after serving only 30 months for a 2003 assault on his infant daughter

The bill establishes a statewide violent felony offender registry by requiring certain convicted felons to register with the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) upon release from prison.

"The tragic death of Brittany Passalacqua - and the horrific mutilation of Andrew Lesperance of Massena - underscores the need for a registry of violent offenders. We have a responsibility to keep our communities safe," Griffo said in a prepared statement.

The legislation would require all individuals convicted of a violent felony to register with the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) upon discharge, parole or release from any state or local facility, hospital or institution. The registry would be accessible to the public, similar to the state sex offender registry. The legislation also establishes annual registration requirements for offenders to allow local law enforcement agencies and the state to monitor their whereabouts.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.