It was actually reported in a local Westchester paper that this 'honorable' judge was: (a) out partying with convicted felons, one, "a kind of poster boy of corruption and cronyism in county government"; (b) giving weekend jail time to a favored lawyer's client who left the scene after having killed a man while driving drunk; and (c) who remarked during the statutory rape case of a 14-year-old that the adult man having sex with the minor "...would not be unusual in their culture.”
And here we present Robert Tembeckjian's and Alan Friedberg's kind of judge, Gerald E. Loehr:
OFFICIAL COMPLAINT AGAINST A NY COUNTY JUDGE
TO: The Commission on Judicial Conduct, 61 Broadway, New York, New York
DATE: December 26, 2007
RE: Gerald E. Loehr, County Judge in Westchester
Local newspapers have been reporting about County Judge Loehr’s outrageous and improper activity, and your commission does nothing. Why?
(a) In a Westchester Journal News article dated August 1, 2006 (“Tax cheat Arred gets a big turnout at party” - see attached pages 2-5) Judge Loehr publicly attended a party for a known convicted felon who was awaiting sentencing in federal court. Also in attendance were at least two other known convicted felons: one for bribe taking and one for child molestation. This type of public appearance by Judge Loehr makes EVERY judge look bad and it undermines the fragile respect the public has on the entire judiciary.
(b) Resulting in public outrage in Westchester County, Judge Loehr presided over a case where a 28 year old fathered a child with a 14 year old minor. It was reported in the paper that Judge Loehr said, “It is apparent that union would not be unusual in their culture.” (“Rapist who fathered child with underage girl spared jail time.” – see attached pages 6-7) It was reported in the newspaper that the prosecutors (and, of course, the minor’s father) were “incensed” by lack of jail time for the statutory rape conviction. While it may be discretionary for the judge to give a convicted rapist a “free-get-out-of-jail” card, it’s nothing but disgusting, improper and “unjudicial” to comment that a rape “…would not be unusual in their culture.”
(c) While the Westchester District Attorney says, “Drinking and driving, a toxic combination, will not be tolerated and will be aggressively prosecuted,” (“Carmel plumber pleads guilty in Port Chester fatal hit-run” – see attached pages 8-9), a politically connected man with a lawyer politically connected to Judge Loehr ended up with 6 months of WEEKENDS for driving drunk, killing another human being and then leaving the scene of the accident. Again, maybe discretionary, but worthy of your investigation since the lenient sentence has been attributed to a few political phone calls to Judge Loehr.
The failure by the Commission on Judicial Conduct to remove this bad seed of a judge only serves to further destroy the eroding respect for all judges and your committee.
Submitted by Anonymous
Tax cheat Arred gets a big turnout at party
The Journal News by PHIL REISMAN - Original Publication: August 1, 2006
By all accounts, it was a shindig to remember. It was held Thursday night at the Westchester Manor catering establishment on Saw Mill River Road in Hastings-on-Hudson, and the attendees consisted of a veritable "Who's Who" of 125 politicos — among them current and former party bosses, past mayors and judges. This was no rubber-chicken affair. Not hardly. Guests paid $250 a plate to enjoy first-class grub and an open bar, the privilege of which surely aided and abetted the slap-happy humor. You might think such an affair was meant to raise money for a hotshot political candidate, or to wish some old crony well in retirement. But neither was the case.
They were there to recognize, roast and pay tribute to a man who may very well go to jail. It was Ralph Arred's 67th birthday party. They gave him a big, beautiful birthday cake, too. With candles. They serenaded him with the birthday song. Files and hacksaws were not baked into the cake, according to firsthand reports. All in all it was an extraordinary outpouring of gratitude for the former Yonkers Democratic chairman, who will be sentenced Sept. 29 on charges he evaded personal income taxes between 2001 and 2004 and for failing to turn over federal taxes withheld from employees of his firm, Arred Electrical Contracting Corp. Arred could get up to four years in prison. Over the years, Arred has also been the beneficiary of lucrative, no-bid contracts from the county and as such has been singled out as a kind of poster boy of corruption and cronyism in county government. None of that deterred the invited insiders, power brokers and deal makers, who, though they would never condone Arred's crimes, wanted to acknowledge him as a "stand-up guy" who did a lot of good things along the way.
As Rodney Dangerfield used to say, "I'm tellin' ya. What a crowd, what a crowd." Both political parties were well-represented, but the majority of attendees were said to be Democrats. They included former County Clerk Len Spano, who represented the vast Republican Spano clan. There were former Yonkers Mayor Angelo Martinelli and Gerald Loehr, who is currently a county judge. Three sitting Yonkers city judges were there — Michael Martinelli, Arthur Doran Jr. and his son, Arthur Doran III. David Ford, a former chairman of the Mount Vernon Democratic Party and a staunch Arred ally, was there to wish him many happy returns. As were Pauline Galvin and Ann Muro, two of the former Yonkers Democratic Committee chairwomen. Joyce Fortunato, a former vice chairwoman, helped out, too. Kevin Cacace, a Yonkers politico and president of the Chamber of Commerce, was the evening's emcee. The current Yonkers Democratic Party chairman, Ken Jenkins, was also there. Dave Alpert, the former county Democratic chairman, went to the party. Lillian Coppola was there. She is the wife of Frank Coppola, the former Yonkers GOP chairman. There were a number of lawyers on hand, including defense attorneys Murray Richman and Michael Weiner. Fittingly, Marty Rochelle, the well-known bail bondsman, was there. At least two partygoers had served time in jail — former Bronx congressman Mario Biaggi (bribe taking) and the Rev. Nathaniel Grady (child molestation, but freed on appeal). Jenkins laughed out loud when he told me yesterday that the party was "interesting." "From my perspective," he said, "it was a fun-filled birthday party, and I had a really good piece of birthday cake." Jenkins said he arrived late. He didn't know Arred well, noting that his career in city politics began about the time Arred was leaving the chairmanship.
"Everyone knew what was going on, so there wasn't any kind of secret about what was happening," Jenkins said. "There was just recognition of some the hard work and things that he had done in his community-service life." He added: "He clearly made a mistake. He clearly is going to pay a price for the mistake." Biaggi said Arred appeared to be overweight. "I hadn't recognized him," Biaggi said. "He put so much weight on. He couldn't button his shirt." The former congressman and New York City cop, who was injured nine times in the line of duty ("I was shot, stabbed and clubbed") and became disabled, said his advice to Arred is to exercise in jail and work off the excess fat. "Make this negative a positive," he advised. "Take advantage of the opportunities in the institution. He'll come out in better shape than he's ever been if he takes advantage of the facilities." Biaggi said he liked Arred. "He's a personable guy," he said. "He's a charmer." And he remembered one of the good things Arred did. "You know, I'm a little handicapped and I remember he was concerned about the disabled. He stressed making parking facilities for the disabled. That showed the inside of the man. "I was always impressed by that. When it came to the real gutsy issues, he was there for the handicapped. And it touched me." Arred's birthday party and the heavy turnout it attracted may prove a lot of things, but it certainly showed that you'll quickly find out who your friends are in the event you're facing jail. "People respond," Biaggi said. "People remember, which is gratifying. It's a good commentary on human nature. Everybody didn't run because of his difficulty."
Family of DWI hit-and-run victim outraged over light sentence
The Journal News by Shawn Cohen and Ernie Garcia
(Original Publication: March 9, 2007)
What do you think of the shock probation sentence in this case? Visit the "Putnam" forum to voice your opinion.
PORT CHESTER, NY - Relatives of an Ecuadorean immigrant fatally struck by a drunken hit-and-run driver are outraged that the killer will spend 10 to 16 weekends in jail, and they question whether ethnicity played a role in the light sentence. "He took a life," said Luis Vizhco, brother-in-law of victim Milton Guamarrigra Vizhco, speaking of the driver, Drew Zottola. "It's very unfair, the sentence they gave him. If he had been Hispanic, maybe they would have given him 8 or 10 years in prison." Zottola, a Carmel plumber who pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter in the May 24 death, will start his jail term tonight. On Monday, Westchester County Judge Gerald Loehr sentenced him to shock probation - which includes the weekends in jail as part of five years' probation - despite objections from the victim's family and the prosecutor, who advocated at least a year in state prison.
Also expressing disgust was the head of Westchester County's chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who recently applauded another judge who recommended prison for a Bedford teen, Ralph Tarchine. He had been convicted of driving while drunk and on drugs during two crashes - one killing a friend in his car. "Thankfully, the judge in the Tarchine case came to his senses, but this is absolutely inexplicable," said the MADD president, Carole Sears. "First of all, this devalues human life, and second, it sends a terrible message to people that they can kill somebody and not even do a day of prison time." Of course, each case has its own circumstances. Tarchine crashed twice within seven weeks. For Zottola, this was his first offense, and his lawyer and family pointed out that the victim - a 25-year-old construction worker from Cuenca, Ecuador - was heavily intoxicated and walking in the street in the darkness of night. "There's nobody sorrier that this terrible accident took place than my husband," said Zottola's wife, Margaret. "But I believe the sentence is very fair, the reason being that there was more than one person at fault." The victim's blood-alcohol level was 0.39 percent, though authorities said that should have had no bearing on the case. Zottola was behind the wheel with an alcohol reading of 0.14 percent. At 0.05 percent, a person is driving while ability impaired. His white Chevrolet van struck Vizhco, a Port Chester resident who was walking home across Westchester Avenue at Poningo Street, about 9 p.m. Zottola drove away, but had been spotted by a motorist who took down his license plate number and called the police. When officers pulled stopped him, his van's headlights were off. In October, he pleaded guilty to the top two charges, second-degree vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, with a promise from the judge he would be spared prison time, defense attorney Bob Mancuso said. Zottola had faced up to seven years in state prison, and the prosecutor recommended at least one to three years. After the sentencing on Monday, District Attorney Janet DiFiore expressed her displeasure. "Our position and recommendation to the court was that this defendant be given state prison time," she said. "People need to be held appropriately accountable for their actions and it is incumbent on all of us to make it clear that such irresponsible actions will carry serious consequences." Bob Mancuso, Zottola's lawyer, said the sentence was "reasonable and fair." "The decedent had five times the legal limit of alcohol in his system," Mancuso said. "He was wearing dark clothing that night and it was a poorly illuminated stretch of road. No one could say with any certainty that this tragedy wouldn't have happened even if the driver had been totally sober." Despite the medical examiner's report about the victim's blood-alcohol level, Luis Vizhco insisted his brother-in-law was not drunk. Luis Vizhco, also a construction worker, said the victim, who was single with no children, arrived in the United States in 2000. The victim's goal was to earn enough money to help his parents and return to Ecuador, where he is now buried. Luis Vizhco said his family was pursuing a civil suit against Zottola.
Rapist who fathered child with underage girl spared jail time
The Journal News by JONATHAN BANDLER (Original publication: December 12, 2006)
Was justice served in this case? Comment in the "New Rochelle" forum of LoHud.com.
WHITE PLAINS, NY - A 30-year-old man who fathered a child with an underage girl he insists he wants to marry got a huge break from a judge yesterday when he was spared jail time and even probation for his statutory rape conviction. Prosecutors and the girl's father were incensed by the sentence imposed on Ruben Duarte by Westchester County Judge Gerald Loehr. Audrey Stone, second deputy district attorney, urged the judge not to show leniency, saying Duarte was motivated by self-interest, not love. "He put himself before this young victim," she said. Duarte, a New Rochelle resident, pleaded guilty in August to second- and third-degree rape and faced up to seven years in state prison. The Probation Department recommended five years' probation with up to six months in the county jail. But Loehr agreed to the defense request for a
conditional discharge, which would clear Duarte of any prospect for probation or incarceration if he stays out of trouble for three years. Duarte will have to register as a sex offender and faces the possibility of deportation as a result of the felony conviction. A Family Court order of protection remains in effect that keeps Duarte from seeing the teenager or his now 1-year-old daughter, Jasmine. But he has filed for joint custody of the child and has requested supervised visitation with the child.
Duarte was a friend of the girl's family. He was 28 and she was 14 when they began a sexual relationship in August 2004. She became pregnant in early 2005 and her parents found out about it four days before she gave birth in November of that year. The judge said he was convinced her father had initially agreed to the marriage but changed his mind because Child Protective Services had threatened to take away his other children if he didn't keep Duarte and the girl apart. Loehr added that determining the right sentence was a challenge because of the competing interests. But he found that Duarte has been supportive of the baby since her birth and that both he and the teenager remain intent on getting married. "It is apparent that union would not be unusual in their culture," the judge said. The judge said he was concerned that probation supervision or incarceration would make deportation more likely for Duarte, a situation that would not be in the young child's best interest. Defense lawyer Diane Webster said Duarte had made a mistake but should be treated differently than other criminals. "He is a responsible, stable, caring person. He is not a sexual predator," Webster said. She and her client hugged when the sentencing was over. Duarte said afterward he was pleased and looked forward to meeting Jasmine soon and eventually to marrying her mother. "For my daughter this is the best thing. She needs a father to live with," he said. "I love (her mother) a lot. I want them in my life. I want to be a family like everyone else."
Outside the Westchester County Courthouse, the teenager's father said he never consented to the marriage but only told Duarte that to keep him nearby until he could be arrested. He said he wants to keep his daughter away from Duarte as long as possible and has told her that once she is of legal age, if "she still wants to marry that (expletive), I can't stop her." He said he was concerned that she would leave school and give up her opportunity to learn a profession and get a good job. Duarte is expected to be classified as a Level 1, or low-risk, sex offender at a hearing before Loehr this morning. Reach Jonathan Bandler at email@example.com or 914-694-3520.
What is this about possible deportation? Is he illegal too?
Posted by: Journaljack on Tue Dec 12, 2006 7:36 pm
Perhaps Judge Loehr could just get his head out of his ass .... The outrageous statement that "It is apparent that union would not be unusual in their culture" is contrary to what the judge is sworn to do, and that is to uphold the law of the United States and the law of the State of New York. For a Criminal Court Judge to blur the lines of his authority and make a ruling on a what he thinks is a family matter that should properly come before a Family Court Judge is something to be looked at by the Administrative Judge. It is rulings like this one that make people have low regard for the judiciary and then the very same judges cry about judge-bashing when public opinion is against them.
Posted by: JUST ICE on Tue Dec 12, 2006 3:12 pm
Judge's ruling lacks sympathy for victim
The newspaper is often filled with stories that anger and appall. In "Rapist spared jail, probation," (Dec. 13) we read about Ruben Duarte, who at the age of 28, according to your newspaper account, began a "sexual relationship" with the 14-year-old daughter of a friend. This "relationship" resulted in the birth of a daughter, now 1 year old. If that's not the definition of a child sexual predator, I don't know what is. The county Probation Department recommended jail time and probation. The District Attorney's office urged the judge not to show leniency. They were both ignored. But, the most pitiful thing, other than the rape itself, was to read the judge's statement in which he characterizes the issue as something that "would not be unusual in their culture." That is an insult to the culture of the victim and to all child victims of rape - statutory or otherwise. Judge Gerald Loehr should not be presiding over these types of cases. He clearly lacks an understanding of the nature of this crime as well as sympathy for the victim. He demonstrates an egregious disregard for the impact of his decision on all those other child predators out there who will read about the judge's decision and find another excuse for their own coercive, criminal behavior. You can bet this judge would not want the type of decision he rendered if it had been his daughter.
CarlLa Horton , Pleasantville
The writer is executive director of the Northern Westchester Shelter.
Prosecutor upset over plea deal in New Rochelle sex case
The Journal News by JONATHAN BANDLER firstname.lastname@example.org
(Original publication: March 11, 2006)
WHITE PLAINS, NY — A New Rochelle man has admitted that he sexually abused four boys from his neighborhood, and prosecutors are upset that the judge is only sending him to prison for six years. Rafael Espinoza Figueroa, 28, pleaded guilty yesterday to criminal sex act, sexual abuse, endangering the welfare of a child and possession of a sexual performance by a child after Westchester County Judge Gerald Loehr promised him the 6-year prison term. Assistant District Attorney Christine Hatfield said Figueroa lured the boys — who ranged in age from 11 to 16 years old — into his basement apartment on Pine Street with promises of money, cell phones and gifts and allowed them to watch pornography. He admitted sodomizing three of them and fondling the fourth. Hatfield said he told detectives after his arrest last summer that he performed oral sex on one of his victims at least 30 times in 2004 and last year. He also admitted having 10 computer images of children under 16 engaging in sex.
Espinoza could have faced more than 50 years in prison if he had gone to trial, but a significantly shorter sentence was likely as part of a guilty plea. The judge had full discretion what sentence to offer Espinoza because he pleaded to each charge in the indictment. Hatfield said a more appropriate sentence than the judge's promise would have been 15 years. She said that Figueroa posed a threat to society, particularly adolescent boys, and that he had shown no hesitation to act out his fantasies involving children. Loehr presides over the recently formed Sex Offense Court in Westchester. He did not elaborate on why he promised six years, one year more than the minimum sentence Figueroa faced, but suggested it may have been because the defendant had no criminal record. Figueroa was returned to the Westchester County jail to await sentencing April 21. His Legal Aid lawyer, Diane Webster, declined to comment.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR The Journal News (March 18, 2006)
Lenient sentence is an outrage
I read with disgust and dismay in the March 11 edition of how Westchester County Judge Gerald Loehr gave a ridiculous six-year sentence to Rafael Espinoza Figueroa, who deserved much much more after he pleaded guilty to various sex abuse charges for abusing four boys. And this, above all, in the newly formed sex offense court in Westchester. This sends a terrible message to all predators that leniency can be expected, and justice for the abused will not be achieved. I hope all Westchester residents will remember the name Gerald Loehr when it comes time for re-election. This man does not deserve to sit on the court and must be voted out. Dennis Turenchalk, Pleasantville