Judge reverses course, orders man accused in Gates fatal OD held without bail
Gates, N.Y. (WHAM) - A judge reversed his ruling regarding bail for a man arrested for allegedly tampering with evidence at the scene of a fatal heroin overdose at a motel in Gates. After a conference in chambers Friday, Monroe County Court Judge Christopher Ciaccio ordered that Scott Pernesky be released with an ankle monitoring device, pending trial.
Prosecutors objected - as did Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode, citing Pernesky's history of escape after arrests in Colorado. VanBrederode says he was trying to flee again.
"He was on the run. That's how he somehow ended up in Chemung County," VanBrederode said.
Police were looking for him for 78 days.
The alleged crime occurred February 2. Jennifer Baker died of a heroin overdose in the Motel 6 in Gates. Her family says people were drawn to her infectious smile and describe her as a soccer mom who loved to play the game too. Sunflowers and music made her happy.
After her death, Pernesky is accused of wrapping her body in sheets, hiding drugs that were still in the room and leaving her body in the room. Housekeeping workers found her body. His attorney takes issue with police reports he was trying to flee.
Pernesky is a three-time felon who escaped once from a prison and once from a psychiatric facility - both in Colorado. He last served time for his role in a major auto theft ring in Denver. Eight people were arrested in a 103-count indictment and charged with stealing $578,000 - money that largely went to methamphetamine for those involved.
"The fact that he is a triple-predicate felon, that he is a runner, that he was convicted of escaping in the past - there's no question in my mind that with home confinement and a bracelet, he would have done it again," said Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini.
During the hearing on Monday, Judge Chris Ciaccio said he was not aware of Scott Pernesky's prior criminal history or other pertinent details in this case. The judge also said said it is a “mistake” to hold bail hearings in chambers and from now on he will do the proceedings in open court.
Pernesky was never actually released with the ankle monitor and now will be held without bail.
"We are relieved as a family," said Debbie Montagliano, Baker's sister. "Jenny deserved better than what he did to her. I will continue to fight for justice."
Montagliano says she lost her best friend as well as her sister.
"We're very appreciative the judge took a second look at the case," VanBrederode said. "The reason we took this on is we're the only voice for the victim and the family."