By LINDA KELLETT
FORT PLAIN — A prominent local businessman is facing felony charges following his late-Saturday arrest on charges of physical and sexual assault.
Fort Plain Police Chief Robert Thomas III early Sunday said Dennis J. Todd, 62, of 24 Willett St., Fort Plain, was charged Saturday night with first-degree criminal sexual act, a Class B felony, in connection with his alleged sexual contact with a 13-year-old male. The arrest stems from a year-long investigation.
At this point, it’s not believed that there are any other victims, Thomas said; however police are asking anyone who may have been subjected to illicit sexual contact to call them at 518-993-3781. Based on information in Todd’s mother’s 2003 obituary, the suspect also lived in Schenectady County.
Todd—who is identified in the state Department of State corporation and business database as the chairman/chief executive officer of Old Fort Plaza Inc. and the owner of Dennis’ Daylight Donuts Inc.— was also charged with first-degree assault for allegedly striking an adult male on the head with a blunt object on Aug. 16.
Thomas said that victim was transported by ambulance to St. Mary’s Hospital, where he was treated for head trauma. Additional information was not available.
“The case is not closed,” said Thomas. “We still have other aspects of Mr. Todd’s life that have been brought to light during the investigation. There may be other arrests. We are looking for other charges and people related to this.”
Thomas said there were other people in the 24 Willett St. residence owned by Todd. Case workers with the county Department of Social Services have provided for other potential victims, and orders of protection have been issued for the weapons-assault and sex-assault victims, said Thomas.
Shortly after midnight, Todd was arraigned in front of Minden Town Justice Susan Buddles and transported to the Montgomery County Jail, where he was held in lieu of $200,000 cash bail. A county correction’s official contacted mid-afternoon Sunday said Todd was still housed at the facility.
Thomas said, “We believe we have a tight case” against Todd.
In addition to statements, he said police have “plenty of physical evidence, and the subject was cooperative initially.”
Fort Plain Police worked with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, the Montgomery County Department of Social Services, and the county District Attorney’s Office. Thomas said he also had conversations concerning the case with Assistant DA William Mycek.
Fort Plain businessman and Mayor Guy Barton said he was “numbed” by the news of Todd’s arrest.
He said it was he who talked Todd into starting the Daylight Donut business in the Old Fort Plaza off River Street, which was built by Todd’s father in the 1960s.
A late-2011 article in the Courier-Standard-Enterprise announcing the doughnut shop’s opening in the strip mall that also houses Save-A-Lot and Family Dollar stores noted that Barton “helped conduct employee interviews, recommended manager Sue McGregor to Todd and personally drove to Herkimer ... to pick up the Board of Health permit the store needed to open.”
Contrary to rumors posted on an online discussion forum, Barton on Sunday said that he is “not linked with him [Todd] owning the business.” Rather, Barton described himself as “an advisor, to make sure the business goes smoothly.”
He explained that Todd had never owned a business where he dealt with employees. He said, “Dennis hasn’t had this kind of experience running a business.”
Barton said his role was to make sure doughnut shop manager Sue McGregor “has some guidance if she has a problem.” He said she’d turn to him for advice on handling situations.
In order to get the fledgling business off the ground, Todd applied for and received a $20,000 micro-enterprise loan from the village. Barton said that he wasn’t on the committee that approved the loan, but he acts on the recommendations of the committee.
So far, Todd has made monthly payments on that borrowing, Barton said. Todd paid his most recent installment late last week.
Barton said he’s doing everything he can to bring businesses into the village and to help them succeed. He feels that he’s taken two steps backwards with the news of Todd’s arrest.
He’s determined to see Daylight Donuts continue, though, “even if I have to own it and manage it myself—but I’d have Sue as a manager,” he said. “We’ll get over the rough spots.”
McGregor also pledged to keep the business running. “We’ll have to take it a day at a time, but I’ll do everything in my power to keep the business operating for the community,” she said.
Perhaps to reassure area residents, Barton said, “There were no local kids hanging around him. They were from Schenectady, Troy.”
On Thursday, prior to Todd’s arrest, an individual calling him/ herself “Beware” anonymously posted a warning about Todd’s alleged predatory behavior on a local online discussion forum. The poster alleged, “Do not allow your young male children in the company of [Todd]. Hopefully in the next few days, I will be able to neutralize this person’s threat to the local children and mine will be his last victim…”