MONTICELLO – Sullivan County Sheriff Mike Schiff is crediting good detective work and modern technology with reuniting James Newman with his Class of 1970 class ring that he lost in 1971, right before he joined the Army.
In 1971, Newman was water skiing with friends on the Swinging Bridge Lake. At the end of the day, he realized he had lost his class ring.
In the 1980s, the lake was drained by Orange and Rockland Utilities who owned the lake at the time. The ring was discovered by Bill Croissant and his son Mike, the owners of Swinging Bridge Marina. The ring was found in the uncovered muck.
When the lake was drained again in 2005-2007, Bill Croissant remembered he still had the ring and was unable to locate the owner, so he turned it over to Sheriff Mike Schiff.
“We got a printout of the class of 1970 from the Washingtonville High School in Orange County” said the Sheriff. “But the inscription was hard to read and among the potential owners on the list, all had moved out of the area leaving no contact information”.
The ring sat in the evidence locker as a “cold case”, until this past spring. With COVID-19 in full swing and a little slowdown in crime, deputies started looking at some of the old cases on file. That is when the Sheriff enlisted the help of Sheriff’s Detective Sergeant Jason Gorr, who was assigned to the FBI Safe Streets Task Force.
Using several new databases, Detective Gorr was able to identify the owner of the ring as James Newman of Atlanta, Georgia. “Mr. Newman was shocked when he got the call”, said Sheriff Schiff. “He had totally forgotten about the ring and couldn’t believe that it was found”. The Sheriff’s Office was able to return the ring to Mr. Newman in time for his 50th high school reunion.
“A graduation ring has great sentimental value. It was gratifying to be able to return it to the owner after all these years”, said the Sheriff.