2009 Merit Performance Awards
Superior Work Performance
Mount Vernon City Court
Dedication. Reliability. Expertise. And above all, service to the public. These are among the attributes and values that characterize Ava Andersen. Whether working weekend arraignments, being on call to assist a coworker, or juggling any of a myriad other tasks, Ava regularly goes beyond the scope of her duties to ensure that the public is served. Work at a high-volume court such as the Mount Vernon City Court can be stressful, but Ava brings not only her expertise to bear, but a sense of calm and her signature smile. Lawyers, judges, court staffers and, above all, the public, have come to rely on Ms. Andersen for her outstanding work ethic, thorough knowledge of court procedure and genuine desire to help others.
In recognition of her outstanding work and her dedication to quality service to the public, it is our pleasure to present Ms. Andersen with this year’s Merit Performance Award for Superior Work Performance.
Outstanding Educational Efforts
Craig R. Snyder
Principal Court Attorney
Steuben County Courts
After finishing his “day job” as the Principal Court Attorney for the Steuben County Courts, Craig Snyder has devoted countless hours to working with youth in his community. For the past 20 years, he has served as director of a summer children’s program that focuses on character-building and that seeks to instill such core values such as honesty, integrity and tolerance. During the school year, Craig and his wife host a weekly explorer’s club where the children are engaged in activities that not only entertain, but more importantly teach them respect and empathy for others. As a board member of his local school district, Mr. Snyder was an advocate for a values-based curriculum that today is used to teach elementary and middle school students how to be better citizens of the world.
Craig Snyder practices what he teaches. In addition to his educational work with children, Craig devotes considerable time serving the elderly, distributing holiday gifts and arranging for musical programs at local nursing homes.
For his dedication to building character and instilling values in our youth, it is our privilege to present Craig Snyder with the 2009 Merit Performance Award for Outstanding Educational Efforts
Community Service and Humanitarian Pursuits
Sara J. Luck
Fulton County Drug Treatment Court
Whether in her role as Resource Coordinator of the Fulton County Drug Court, or in one of her many extracurricular activities, Sara Luck is always doing something to enhance the lives of those in her community. She coordinates food, clothing and toy drives for several local organizations serving the needy in her community. She also organized a volunteer group of active and former drug court participants make improvements in run-down parts of Fulton County. Sara in turn reaches out to the community on behalf of drug court participants, collecting food, clothing and other essential goods.
To each of these endeavors, she brings a special blend of persistence and optimism, as well as a talent for cutting through the red tape – skills that serve her well in her court job as well as in her extracurricular role of community advocate.
In recognition of her countless good works, and her dedication to strengthening and stabilizing our families and communities, it is our pleasure to present Sara J. Luck with our 2009 Merit Performance Award for Community Service and Humanitarian Pursuits.
Kings County Criminal Court
One February morning in 1975, Court Officer Albert Gelb, while off-duty, intervened on behalf of a waitress being hassled by a thug in a Brooklyn diner. A struggle ensued, and Officer Gelb ultimately arrested the man on a weapons charge. The man, it turns out, was Charles Carneglia, a reputed associate of a crime family.
Months later, as the case was approaching trial, Officer Gelb began receiving phone threats warning him not to testify against Carneglia. However, the young Officer Gelb –– who with only three years on the job was already the state’s most decorated court officer –– refused to be intimidated. Following a late shift at Kings County Criminal Court days before the trial, Officer Gelb was gunned down outside of his home. Finally, three decades after the murder, Charles Carneglia was tried in March for his role in the murder of Officer Gelb and four other men. While Carneglia was acquitted of conspiracy in Officer Gelb’s murder, he was convicted in connection with four other killings and faces life in prison.
At age 25, Albert Gelb made the supreme sacrifice. Today, with this special posthumous award, we pay homage to Officer Gelb not for how he died but for how he lived.