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Farbotnik found dead at his residence

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Senior Investigator Judy Trimboli, state police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said troopers responded to a 911 call at 4:58 a.m. Tuesday at the James A. Farbotnik residence, 355 Route 37C. Mr. Farbotnik operated a computer repair store in downtown Massena.

St. Lawrence County Coroner June Wood said Tuesday night that an autopsy conducted Tuesday at Massena Memorial Hospital showed Mr. Farbotnik died of natural causes.

“We ruled it natural causes from heart diseases,” she said.

Mr. Farbotnik previously had told the Courier-Observer he had serious heart issues.

Mr. Farbotnik’s wife, Vinira Z. Farbotnik, 43, had been found dead in a pond on the couple’s property in the early morning hours of Memorial Day 2011. The investigation into her death was ongoing at the time of Mr. Farbotnik’s death.

The Massena man had expressed increased agitiation in recent weeks that state police had not returned several items taken from his home and store during their investigation into his wife’s death.

He also expressed outrage that he had never received an official autopsy report. “In June 2013, a year after my wife’s death when no one had called me back, I made many calls. I found out the toxicology an autopsy reports were never completed and without any reason,” he said last month.

Mr. Farbotnik said he had shared his concerns with St. Lawrence County Health Department officials at that time. “Four months later now ... over 19 months since my wife died, and there is no completion of the autopsy nor toxicology reports back yet.

He noted he had filed formal complaints with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office and the New York State Police Internal Affairs Division.

Mr. Farbotnik moved to Massena just over a decade ago and spent much of the past 10 years in various battles with the New York State Police and troopers assigned to the Massena station. He vowed himself as an aggressive advocate for exposing corruption in the criminal justice system, local government and the Massena Central School District, where he was an unsuccessful candidate on more than one occasion for a seat on the school board. He was aware many in the community viewed his activities of those of a madman, not a whistle blower, but he continued his effort to expose what he called “deep rooted corruption” in the community.

He said his campaign was launched just a week after he moved to Massena when he was ticketed following a property damage accident for a collision that he vowed was not his fault.

“We moved back to Massena to have a farm and raise a family in this beautiful area with good people was my deepest dream. So I, with my pregnant wife, moved back to Massena in about 2001 with great hopes of a simple life,” he noted during an October interview.

That simple life fell apartment over a year ago when his wife died, and he was left to raise his five childen. He said his business was hurt by those who were convinced he had played some role in his wife’s death even though he had never been charged and the coroner’s preliminary report - in his view - had indicated there was no evidence of foul play.

Mr. Farbotnik had called 911 at 1:10 a.m. May 31, 2011 to report he had discovered his wife unresponsive near their family pond. Mrs. Farbotnik’s body was located several hundred yards from her residence behind a horse pasture.

Mr. Farbotnik said the day after his wife’s body was found that he had no idea how she died.

But Mr. Farbotnik, the owner of Cyberworld USA, had said he did have a lot of enemies, and one of those enemies may have played a role in his wife’s death.

Mr. Farbotnik spoke at length that day, detailing his recollection of the moments leading up to when he said he discovered his wife submerged in three feet of water in the family pond with a canoe on top of her.

St. Lawrence County Coroner James M. Sienkiewcyz said an autopsy found no signs of any physical trauma to Mrs. Farbotnik.

Mr. Farbotnik said he was questioned extensively by state police in the hours after his wife was found about any possible involvement he might have had in her death. He vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

“I have done nothing wrong. My wife is dead and my children have done nothing wrong,” he said the day after his wife’s death. “I’m praying to God this was a terrible tragedy.”

The Farbotniks have five children, ranging in age from elementary school to high school students. Ms. Trimboli said state police are working with the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services Child Protective Services for the short-term placement of the five children, and an animal control officer has responded to the Farbotnik property to address the plethora of animals on the property, including several miniature horses.

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