Rotterdam Junction man gets prison for firebombings, sex abuse of child

Tuesday, July 30, 2013
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— A man who once faced possible life sentences in two unrelated cases was sentenced Tuesday to a total of 11 years in prison on arson and sex crime charges.

Alexander Grandstaff, 20, of Rotterdam Junction, was charged in a series of Molotov cocktail attacks in 2010 and the sexual abuse of a child. No victims from the firebombings spoke at the sentencing, but the victim in the sex case did.

In that case, Grandstaff pleaded guilty earlier to one count of first-degree criminal sexual act, admitting to having sexual contact in December with a child. The victim, who was accompanied by her parents, told Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago what happened to her has resulted in trust issues and bad memories, prosecutor Tracey Brunecz said later.

“She gave a very powerful statement,” Brunecz said.

Drago also sentenced Grandstaff to 12 years of post-release supervision, and he will have to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison. Had he gone to trial, Grandstaff could have faced as much as 25 years to life in prison in each case.

Investigators believe Grandstaff and three others, then ages 17 and 18, drove around Scotia in June 2010, hurling homemade firebombs at places and individuals. Grandstaff was accused of making the Molotov cocktails.

One of his co-defendants, Joseph Parkhurst, 21, received five years in prison in that case. The two others arrested in March, Shawn Dedrick, 20, and Gregory Mitchell, 21, both of Scotia, pleaded guilty earlier to felony weapons charges and face lesser sentences. Prosecutors noted Dedrick and Mitchell had no interaction with law enforcement in the nearly three years between the incidents and their arrests in March.

Among the targets of the firebombs, authorities said, was Scotia’s police chief at the time. The group allegedly was trying to exact revenge for what they perceived as police harassment.

They were accused of smashing a second-floor window of the house where acting Police Chief Tom Rush lived with his wife and young daughter on June 3, 2010. By chance, the lighted gasoline-soaked wick that was jammed into a glass bottle filled with fuel fell out after it was flung at the residence, preventing the device from igniting, authorities said.

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