NEW LISBON, N.Y. (UPDATED) – A New Lisbon man was arrested for allegedly holding a music festival in Otsego County after the health department issued a cease and desist order to stop the event.
George A. Knarich, 55, is accused of violating Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive orders banning mass gatherings, and is facing trespassing and criminal nuisance charges.
According to Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin, Knarich organized the New York Harvest Festival and Freedom Fair, and advertised the event for Saturday, Oct. 10, expecting 700 to 1,500 people.
Otsego County Health Director Heidi Bond issued a cease and desist order on Thursday, Oct. 8, directing Knarich to cancel the event.
Devlin says the order was ignored, and the event was held on Allen Road in the town of New Lisbon as originally planned.
During the event on Saturday, the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office served notice of hearings for violations of Title 10 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) for promoting a non-essential gathering to the organizer and promoter of the event.
Violation of social gathering restrictions comes with a $15,000 fine, and individuals who attend the event and do not wear face coverings may be subjected to a $1,000 fine, according to the health department.
Since the event was taking place on property owned by the county due to tax foreclosure, the county treasurer issued a signed complaint to District Attorney John Muehl, leading to an arrest warrant for Knarich.
Knarich was taken into custody Monday morning, and is currently being held at the Otsego County Correctional Facility pending the centralized arraignment.
Devlin says the investigation is ongoing, and at least one additional arrest is pending.