Saratoga Springs

Court records: Suspects in deadly Saratoga assault talked about attack while in police holding cell

James Garafalo (left) and Jordan Garafalo (right) are shown. (Photos provided by Saratoga Springs Police Department)

James Garafalo (left) and Jordan Garafalo (right) are shown. (Photos provided by Saratoga Springs Police Department)

SARATOGA SPRINGS – James and Jordan Garafalo, the brothers being held in connection with a fatal assault in downtown Saratoga Springs on Saturday night, made incriminating statements while being held in a Saratoga Springs police holding cell after their arrest, according to court records.

The Garafalos, both of Saratoga Springs, appeared to acknowledge the amount of trouble they faced in statements documented by Saratoga Springs police, repeatedly using expletives to describe their situation as they awaited a Sunday court appearance.

“It’s a done deal, were f*****],” one of the brothers said, according to police records filed with the Saratoga Springs City Court. “I’m not going to make bail.”

The brothers were arrested late Saturday night after allegedly assaulting 56-year-old Mark French outside of Clancy’s Tavern.  French was found unconscious by police shortly after 11 p.m. near the intersection of Henry and Caroline streets. He was transported to Albany Medical Center and died on Sunday.

The Garafalo brothers were arrested downtown shortly after police arrived on the scene. They were both charged with second-degree felony assault and have been held at Saratoga County Jail since. The felony assault charges were brought before French was declared dead. Additional charges are possible but had not been filed as of Tuesday afternoon. Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen on Tuesday said city police continued to investigate the incident and were in close communication with her office.

The Garafalo brothers were both arraigned Sunday in City Court. Police filed in the court record multiple pages of documents listing “statements of admissions” the Garafalos allegedly made while in a holding cell between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Sunday. The statements indicate the brothers recognized the potential seriousness of their legal exposure and that one of them had struck the victim. 

“Defendant made several statements while in the [Saratoga Springs Police Department] hold cells placing himself at the scene and placing himself in a fight with the victim,” according to the police records.

Jordan Garafalo, 38, shortly after 6 a.m. allegedly said: “You put him to sleep,” in an apparent reference to the assault. “One shot dude, bye.”

It’s not clear from the police records which Garafalo made each statement listed, but the brothers appeared to discuss the hope that the victim would recover. “Hope he comes out of the hospital,” one of the brothers said. “I’m toasted.”

In another statement listed by police, one of the brothers allegedly said: “I saw the police and then I ran man.”

Another record indicates that prior to being held in city jail Jordan Garafalo made “several statements at Saratoga Hospital placing himself at the scene and placing himself in the fight with the victim,” but does not specify the statements made. 

Saratoga police have said that the brothers were drinking at Clancy’s Tavern before they were kicked out after getting into a fight there. Once outside the bar, they allegedly attacked French, who lives in South Carolina but spent much of his life in Saratoga Springs.

French’s family on Tuesday posted on social media details for a Friday memorial service. The service will be held at Burke and Bussing Funeral Homes in Saratoga Springs from 2 to 4 p.m., followed by a celebration of French’s life at Knights of Columbus in Saratoga Springs.

Criminal histories

The Garafalo brothers have prior criminal history in the city. Both were arrested and charged with felonies as recently as June and have criminal records dating back years.

Jordan Garafalo pleaded guilty on Jan. 22 to a reduced charge of second-degree harassment, a violation, and submitted to an order of protection that covered three people, including his son. That case started with a Sept. 5 incident that resulted in Garafalo facing a harassment charge and endangering the welfare of a child.

Jordan was again charged with multiple misdemeanors, violations and a felony assault charge on June 25 in connection with a June 20 incident, another domestic matter at a Saratoga Springs residence. On top of the second-degree felony assault, he also faced a litany of misdemeanor charges, including criminal contempt, criminal mischief and endangering the welfare of a child. 

James Garafalo, 28, was charged June 5 with felony criminal mischief in connection with a domestic incident at a Saratoga Springs resident and earlier this month pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor criminal mischief. The plea agreement, which noted a “significant” prior criminal record, granted James a conditional release. The conditional release included an order of protection requiring he stay away from a woman and a requirement that he does “not possess or be in the vicinity of alcohol.” The agreement also required an alcohol and drug evaluation and that he comply with any recommended treatment.

The fatal assault case comes after a series of violent incidents tied to the city’s late-night bar scene and amid a broader debate over the causes of the violence and how to manage it – a debate that has many racial justice activists accusing city leaders and police officials of stirring up racist fears about outsiders causing problems in the city or activists causing violence. 

At a late June press conference, Assistant Police Chief John Catone, nominally addressing a recent shots fired incident on Caroline Street, suggested that activists and racial justice protesters were partly to blame for fueling late-night violent incidents in the city. Catone also blamed “Albany gangs” for some of the violence, adding that “Saratoga Springs is no longer the small city in the country where you can escape big-city problems of violence.” 

After a July protest, a pair of activists were followed and eventually stopped and searched by Saratoga police officers. The activists said the only reason police gave for the stop was that they had intelligence that there may have been weapons present at the protest. Saratoga police spokesman Lt. Bob Jillson told The Gazette that one of the activists raised suspicions because he had visited his car multiple times during the protest.

But the activists have been quick to point out that drunken incidents of violence have long been associated with Saratoga Springs and that many Saratogians contribute to the worst of the criminal activity in the city. 

Lexis Figuereo, one of the chief organizers of protests in the city, on Tuesday asked where was the police press conference about the deadly assault at the hands of a pair of white Saratoga men.   

“It just points to the real problems we’ve had in Saratoga Springs since Saratoga was Saratoga,” he said. “It’s a racing town that leads to drinking and violence; it shows the narrative of what’s really going on in Saratoga.”

Figuereo said the reality of Saratoga natives allegedly perpetuating the most violent incident in the city yet this summer ran in stark contrast to the heavy presence at City Council meetings packed with activists and the dozens of riot-gear-clad officers responding to protests downtown.

“It shows us what we have been fighting against, the demonizing and lies of what’s going on, it’s clear as day,” he said. “This is yet another thing that we see of the blame that is put on Black people and people that aren’t even in this community, blaming them for violence that was already in the community.”  

While Saratoga police in the past month arrested both a Schenectady and an Albany man on gun-related charges, a 43-year-old Saratoga Springs man was recently arrested and charged in connection with a stabbing on Caroline Street earlier this month. City Commissioner Michele Madigan’s 18-year-old son was recently charged with a felony robbery in connection with a June attack of a 16-year-old. The weekend arrest logs this summer have been dotted with numerous Saratoga Springs residents charged with a litany of crimes, as well as people from throughout the Capital Region.

Categories: News, Saratoga County

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