Bates charged with stealing from local priest


A Granville man arrested at gunpoint in November for threatening another man with a handgun had burglary charges added to the indictment handed up against him by a Washington County Grand Jury, officials said.


Melton G. Bates, 47, had two additional charges of second-degree burglary added to the multiple count indictment for allegedly breaking into the Bulkley Avenue rectory where St. Mary’s Church priest Father Tom Zelker lives.

In addition to the burglary counts, he was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny.

Bates is accused of taking over $1,000 in cash during two separate break-ins.

The money was not recovered.

Police said Bates became familiar with the rectory while staying there without the priest’s knowledge.

Zelker provided shelter to Bates’ girlfriend and her children some time during 2008 when the woman became homeless and Bates stayed there as well, but was asked to leave when discovered.

Bates twice broke into the rectory, police said, once in September and again in October, resulting in the two class “C” felony charges.

Police said the November gun incident, in which Bates pointed a .22 caliber pistol at another man and ordered him out of his apartment, was linked to the burglary.

Bates believed the man cooperated with police in the investigation of the missing money, police said.

Bates faces third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a class “D” felony, second-degree menacing and fourth-degree criminal mischief charges, each class “A” misdemeanors, from the Nov. 11 incident where he pointed a gun in the face of Granville resident Adam Devino.

The gun was later found to have been unloaded.

Bates was arrested shortly afterwards while sitting outside of his apartment building drinking a beer.

Bates has been confined to the Washington County Jail where he awaits arraignment later this month in Washington County Court.

Bates has two previous felony convictions and officials said if convicted and sentenced as a persistent felon he could face up to 25-years-to-life in state prison.



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