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Norfolk man charged with making gun threat has release continued

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POTSDAM - A Norfolk man charged with making a gun threat during a conversation with a First Niagara bank employee had his release on his own recognizance continued during an appearance Friday in Village Court.

Village Justice Nicholas Pignoni also signed a temporary order of protection directing Steven R. Wells, 60, of 60 W. Main St., to stay away from bank employee Robert W. Barlow.

The court entered a not guilty plea on Mr. Wells’s behalf and adjourned the case until April 19. Mr. Wells told the court he planned to retain an attorney to represent him.

Village police charged him with second-degree aggravated harassment on Wednesday. He allegedly was angry about a credit card issue when he called a First Niagara Bank employee and said he would bring a gun to the bank if that’s what it would take to resolve the issue.

Mr. Wells had also been charged with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, first-degree harassment and fourth-degree stalking after he turned up at Norwood-Norfolk Central School the morning of Jan. 25 bearing a gift for a teacher and wearing a shoulder holster with a black Desert Eagle BB pistol beneath his jacket, state police said. Mr. Wells posted a $100,000 bond following his January arrest and had been free pending further proceedings.

First Niagara branch officials said they had also had an incident with Mr. Wells on Feb. 22 when he was upset he was unable to use a brokerage securities account so he could buy and sell stocks. Bank officials said Mr. Wells couldn’t use that account because he had failed to complete the appropriate forms.

“Our concern is that Mr. Wells will attempt to physically threaten a member of our bank staff since he has not yet completed the necessary steps to activate his accounts and/or continue to call and make threats to force us to provide funds for him, despite his failure to comply with the policies and procedures of the bank that he was previously made aware of. I was concerned and alarmed by his statements to me concerning bringing a gun into the bank,” Mr. Barlow said in his police statement.

Mr. Wells reportedly called the bank from a hotel in Albany on March 8 and told bank officials he was either going to fly or drive back to Potsdam. He was picked up on an arrest warrant Wednesday when he made an appearance in Norfolk Town Court.

Mr. Pignoni said he was going to sign a temporary order of protection directing Mr. Wells to stay away from Mr. Barlow.

Mr. Wells initially said he worried about the impact of the order on his banking, then said he would deal with the bank’s Massena branch.

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