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Friday, July 31, 2009

Novel Judicial Strategy: Meet With Mobsters Twice a Month

Court Filing Says Former Judge Met With Felons Twice a Month 
The Legal Intelligencer by Leo Strupczewski and Hank Grezlak - March 2, 2009

A former Luzerne County, Pa., president judge used to hold meetings about twice a month with a reputed mob boss and a common friend -- also an admitted felon -- to discuss pending court cases, according to a supplement to a King's Bench petition filed with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Friday. The owners of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.-based newspaper the Citizens' Voice wrote to the court that a friend of William "Billy" D'Elia, Robert Kulick, has detailed his relationship with former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan and D'Elia. According to the supplement, the three men once met in Conahan's chambers when they were located in the main courthouse to discuss a case in which D'Elia and Kulick "were both interested." That meeting happened prior to a hearing in that case, Kulick alleged. Kulick went on to say that the meetings usually occurred at a restaurant, which was not named, and began with a "general conversation," the supplement claims. They generally happened around breakfast. When talk would steer toward pending cases, D'Elia would leave the table so Kulick and Conahan could talk in private, the supplement claims. Kulick would leave the table when D'Elia and Conahan would talk in private. "If I or someone I knew had an interest in a particular case pending before that court, I would ask Judge Conahan to consider that the party I supported got a 'fair shake,' or a 'second look,'" Kulick claims in a declaration attached to the supplement. "It was my understanding that if the case was not being handled by Judge Conahan himself, he would, on occasion, speak to other judges who were handling the matter in response to my request. At various times, Judge Conahan would confirm that he had either acted on my requests or had arranged for them to be acted on." According to the supplement, Kulick was interviewed by the newspaper's attorneys Tuesday. Through his attorney, D'Elia issued a statement denying Kulick's declaration.

"I in no way was involved with the judges and juvenile detention center and the Thomas Joseph law suit," D'Elia said, according to attorney James Swetz. Asked what his client's statement meant, Swetz said that would require interpretation. He said he was not prepared to do that. "It's his statement and he wanted me to answer any inquiry by releasing that sentence," Swetz said. "To put it mildly, he disagrees with Kulick's declaration." Kulick's attorney, Michael A. Schwartz of Pepper Hamilton, was reluctant to comment on the matter other than to issue a single sentence -- similar to others he has issued in relation to the Luzerne corruption probe. For instance, when asked if his client had approval from the U.S. Attorney's Office to cooperate with the newspaper's lawyers, Schwartz said: "Bob Kulick has fully accepted responsibility for the crime for which he has been charged and he continues to answer questions and cooperate with all law enforcement authorities." Asked whether he or his client approached the newspaper or whether or how the newspaper approached him or his client, Schwartz said he could not comment. Conahan's attorney, Philip Gelso, could not be reached for comment.

The filing, first reported by the Citizens' Voice, confirms what The Legal Intelligencer first reported online Feb. 20 and in print last Monday -- that Kulick was the company's witness. It also supports a claim made by another source to The Legal Intelligencer weeks ago: that another person had told the source he had seen Conahan, Kulick and D'Elia meet at the courthouse to discuss business. The source portrayed the relator of that information as someone other than Kulick. The source who related the story had no knowledge of what the alleged meeting covered. A former Luzerne County judge has also told The Legal Intelligencer that Conahan and Kulick were "friendly" and could be seen chatting in area restaurants and bars. The judge described Kulick's relationship with D'Elia in the same manner.

Other sources said Kulick and D'Elia were cooperating with federal authorities in their ongoing corruption probe at the county courthouse. Both men have pleaded guilty in the last year to criminal charges -- Kulick to possession of a firearm by an admitted felon, D'Elia to money-laundering conspiracy and witness tampering charges in March 2008. President Judge Chester B. Muroski confirmed to The Legal Intelligencer last week that he had been interviewed by the FBI about court administration issues. He allowed the investigators to photocopy documents concerning civil court matters without a subpoena, he said. Sources said other judges were interviewed, but none returned repeated calls for comment. Multiple sources have also relayed rumors to The Legal Intelligencer that other judges are being looked at by federal authorities. Those sources have not said whether the rumors include what the possible focus of the inquiry might be or the number of judges. The newspaper's supplement is the second filing to the state Supreme Court in which it asks the justices to vacate a $3.5 million defamation award issued against the newspaper and reopen discovery in the case.

In Joseph v. Scranton Times, Thomas Joseph, a Luzerne County businessman, argued that articles published by the Citizens' Voice during its coverage of a 2001 federal investigation that targeted D'Elia and his alleged business partners damaged his reputation and business. A source told the paper that federal officials were investigating Joseph to see whether he used his direct mail and advertising business to launder money for D'Elia and that his taxi and limousine service was used to traffic guns, drugs and prostitutes between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Lehigh Valley international airports and Atlantic City, N.J., New York City and Philadelphia. Joseph was never charged with any wrongdoing. Conahan handled the pretrial matters and, despite voiced concerns from the newspaper company, worked with William T. Sharkey, the former court administrator who has pleaded guilty to embezzling funds, to steer the case to former President Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. for a 10-day nonjury trial, according to the petition. In the petition, the newspaper claims that Ciavarella disregarded "substantial evidence connecting Joseph and D'Elia, including search warrants, the affidavits of probable cause and the Pen Register results showing hundreds of calls between them." Instead, the petition continues, the judge accepted Joseph's testimony that he and D'Elia were "mere acquaintances."  He also discounted the newspaper's reporting because Joseph was never mentioned in a May 2006 indictment of D'Elia and found one of the newspaper's witnesses, Joseph's former wife, to be not credible because she had prior convictions and was granted immunity by a grand jury for her testimony.

Ciavarella awarded Joseph and his businesses $3.5 million in damages. Joseph's attorneys, George W. Croner and Christina Donato Saler of Kohn Swift & Graf in Philadelphia, filed a strongly worded response to the newspaper's petition on Wednesday, calling the request a "free-for-all fishing expedition." "Turning to a historical metaphor, it is vitally important that the search to root out genuine wrongdoing does not lead courts or litigants to the practices of the Salem Witch Trials, where rumor, gossip and innuendo were substituted for rationality, reflection and deliberation," the attorneys wrote in the reply. Joseph's attorneys also noted the verdict was the subject of a trial at which the defendant newspaper and journalists presented "virtually no evidence supporting the reporting and publication process used with their journalism." The supplement also includes a declaration by attorney J. Timothy Hinton, who searched about 4,600 of the county's disposed cases. Only Joseph v. Scranton Times had a note indicating Conahan and Sharkey were involved in assigning the case, according to the supplement.

"Kulick's Declaration and the Database Records are additional evidence that the corruption in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas infected Joseph v. Scranton Times and likely predetermined its outcome in favor of Thomas A Joseph," the supplement claims. "This additional evidence along with the evidence previously submitted by Petitioners provide ample basis for this Court to vacate the $3.5 million in Joseph's favor or, at a minimum, authorize a period of discovery to be followed by a hearing, if necessary, and briefing on Petitioner's motion to vacate." Conahan and Ciavarella have pleaded guilty to charges they accepted $2.6 million in kickbacks from the owner and builder of a juvenile detention center. The government alleges the judges steered juveniles to the facility. In his declaration, Kulick claimed he met the judges after opening a restaurant -- Olives Mediterranean Restaurant -- in 1999. He had a "social" relationship with Ciavarella, saw him at various events and invited him to his home "from time to time." Kulick claimed he would see Conahan at the same events, but the contact between the two "was considerably more extensive." Kulick arranged the breakfast meetings with Conahan about twice a month until 2007. They stopped after Kulick's wife, Michelle Mattioli-Kulick, received a grand jury subpoena regarding a letter of recommendation Conahan had written for her, Kulick claimed. Mattioli-Kulick was apparently attempting to obtain an offshore, online casino license at the time.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More on Legal Scholar Who Feds Say Wanted Witnesses to Disappear

The New York Post by KATI CORNELL - July 30, 2009

A well-known Manhattan attorney was ready to pay off witnesses against his drug-kingpin client and would have been happy to see them "disappear," according to tapes by a federal informant. The attorney, Robert Simels, 62, hashed out possible fees he was willing to shell out to witnesses as a Guyanese gang member who was secretly cooperating with the feds recorded the conversations in 2008. "We can buy his house from him, right," Simels asked Selwyn Vaughn as they discussed a witness looking to sell his home and a hotel in Guyana. "We could buy the hotel." In another chat, a recording of which was played in Brooklyn federal court, Simels seemed unfazed when Vaughn suggested making close associates of a witness "disappear" because "it sends a message." "I'm gonna leave it to you to figure out what's going to best get to him," Simels said.

Additional Background Story:

Lawyer Robert Simels accused of illegal tactics in drug kingpin defense - The New York Daily News by John Marzulli -  July 28, 2009------  Brash lawyer Robert Simels adopted a "win at all costs" strategy for a drug kingpin client, plotting to bribe, intimidate and silence witnesses, a federal prosecutor charged Monday. "A license to practice law is not a license to break the law," Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Brownell said in his opening statement in Brooklyn Federal Court. Brownell said Simels, 62, told a government informant, "I'm going to do whatever I gotta do" to win an acquittal for client Shaheed (Roger) Khan, a major cocaine trafficker from Guyana. Simels was a "puppet master" orchestrating the illegal campaign with law associate Arienne Irving, who is also charged with obstructing justice and witness tampering, Brownell said. They face up to life in prison, if convicted. Khan pleaded guilty in March, but he is not testifying against his former mouthpiece. Defense lawyer Gerald Shargel claimed Simels was carrying out a sting operation after learning from the informant that witnesses against Khan were seeking bribes. Simels will take the witness stand "to explain exactly what he intended," Shargel promised the jury. Known for his flamboyant and abrasive courtroom style, Simels has represented crack king Kenneth (Supreme) McGriff, mob rat Henry Hill of "GoodFellas" fame and former New York Jet Mark Gastineau.

Goldman Sachs Lawyer Charged with Soliciting Online 'Girl' for Sex

Goldman Sachs lawyer charged with soliciting online 'girl' for sex
The Journal News by Rebecca Baker - July 28, 2009

WHITE PLAINS, NY - An attorney with Goldman Sachs is accused of soliciting sex online from someone he thought was a teenage girl but was in fact a Westchester County investigator. Todd Genger, a 33-year-old corporate lawyer who lives on the Upper West Side, was arraigned in White Plains City Court today for attempting to disseminate indecent material to a minor, a felony. Genger is accused of having inappropriate online chats with an investigator from the county District Attorney's office, who was posing as a 15-year-old girl. Starting on April 13, he allegedly talked about explicit sexual acts that he wanted to perform with the "girl." The last such chat happened yesterday, prosecutors said. Genger arranged to meet the girl at an undisclosed location in Westchester and was arrested. He was released without bail and is due back in court on Aug. 11. He faces 15 months to four years in state prison on the charge.

Office of Court Administration files show:
Registration Number 4035689
Goldman Sachs, 85 Broad Street, New York, NY 10004
Year Admitted in NY:  2002
Appellate Division Department of Admission:  2nd
Law School: George Washington University
Next Registration:  July 2010

ENTER ANDY: Cuomo Subpoenas Public Administrator of Estates

Cuomo subpoenas documents tied to Broderick’s family dealings
The Buffalo News by Thomas J. Prohaska - July 25, 2009

LOCKPORT, NY — The state attorney general’s office has subpoenaed records relating to Niagara County Treasurer David S. Broderick’s activities as public administrator of estates. The attorney general’s Public Integrity Bureau appears interested in the work done on estates Broderick controlled by his wife Jane, a real estate agent, and his brother William, an attorney.  The subpoena, released Friday by the county attorney’s office, called on Broderick to produce all documents relating to estates for which Jane and William Broderick performed services since June 16, 2003. That cutoff date matches the six-year statute of limitations for a criminal prosecution. However, County Attorney Claude A. Joerg said, “I got no indication that it’s a criminal investigation.” “We don’t comment on subpoenas,” said John Milgrim, spokesman for Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo. Teresa M. Snyder, an Amherst attorney who objected to Broderick’s handling of her late mother’s estate, has charged that it was improper for the treasurer to assign his wife to sell the mother’s house last year. She did not return a call to comment Friday. Neither did Broderick, but his attorney, George V. C. Muscato, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the matter never progresses beyond the investigation stage. “I would emphasize that David has done absolutely nothing wrong,” Muscato said. “By the time all this is done, he will be the most certified-to-have-done-nothing-wrong person in Niagara County.”

As The Buffalo News disclosed in a series of articles that began in February, Niagara County Surrogate’s Court files and real estate sources show that Jane Broderick has listed at least eight houses for sale since 2000 from estates her husband controlled. Commissions to her agency, Realty USA, on those sales totaled more than $30,000. About 25 percent of that is believed to have gone to Jane Broderick. Also, William D. Broderick, the treasurer’s brother, handled legal work on three estates administered by David Broderick since 2003, and collected more than $17,000 in fees. Muscato said the same files the attorney general’s office sought were previously provided to two other state agencies, the Office of Court Administration and the comptroller’s office. The latter is auditing Broderick at the request of the two County Court judges. An Office of Court Administration spokesman earlier this year cited a regulation that bars public administrators from using their relatives for estate work. Muscato and attorneys for the county have insisted that regulation was never properly published and has no legal force.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Corrupt Judicial Ethics Commission's Bad Acting

Bedford judge admonished for imposing illegal fines
The Journal News by Sean Gorman - July 29, 2009

BEDFORD, NY - The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct has admonished Bedford Town Justice Charles G. Banks for imposing excessive fines in more than 200 traffic cases, saying he imposed penalties totaling $11,281 more than allowed by law. The judicial oversight panel found in a seven-page ruling this month that Banks' actions create "at least an appearance that he was imposing excessive amounts in order to increase the town's revenues." The fines were levied from October to December, 2006 as well as in October to December 2007, according to the opinion. After learning of the commission's investigation, Banks immediately took steps to refund money to motorists who were excessively fined, according to the ruling, which also states that Banks, on the bench since 1995, has agreed not to seek re-election this year and that his actions were unintentional. But a sharply-worded dissent from the judicial panel's vice chairman called for the harsher penalty of censure, saying that the total level of excessive fines that Banks levied in all of 2006 and 2007 may have been more than $60,000.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tembeckjian's Latest Goon Squad Stunt

The New York Post by DAN MANGAN - July 28, 2009

An upstate judge is in hot water for calling Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver a "slug" in The Post's pages. The state Commission on Judicial Conduct last week hauled Cattaraugus County Judge Larry Himelein, 60, before a referee on undisclosed charges. Himelein admits he used the epithet to describe the Lower East Side Democrat over long-stalled pay raises for New York judges -- but insists he did so in a leaked e-mail to fellow judges, not in an April 2008 phone interview with The Post in which he confirmed he was refusing to hear cases involving Weitz & Luxenberg, Silver's employer. The commission is also probing whether he said, "I think the speaker is a slug." Subpoenaed Post reporter Bruce Golding testified his report was accurate. A lawyer not involved in the case said Himelein was likely to get just a private warning if convicted of detracting "from the dignity of judicial office." But if found to have misled the panel, he faces tougher sanctions, including possible removal, the source said.

Here's a background story:

Judge revolt vs. me pointless, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver sez
The New York Daily News bY ELIZABETH BENJAMIN - May 5, 2008

Judges trying tomake Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver pay - literally - by targeting his law firm in their ongoing war over judicial salary hikes are missing the mark, the speaker said Sunday. "They don't realize I have no interest in the firm, so they're not hurting me personally," Silver said. "I have no interest in litigation. The only interest I have is in what I bring in [through case referrals], which is very minimal." Silver's comments came on the heels of reports that upstate judges are either slowing down or recusing themselves from cases brought by his Manhattan law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, or trying to get the firm disqualified outright from at least one lucrative Medicaid fraud case. The speaker, who is of counsel at the firm, continued to insist yesterday that he actually supports a judicial pay raise, adding, "I would like to see that they, along with other people, get what is due them."

Judicial salary increases have traditionally been linked in Albany to pay raises for state lawmakers - a political hot-button issue, particularly at a time when the state is facing a fiscal crisis. Neither legislators nor judges have seen a raise since January 1999. The stalled pay raise is the subject of three lawsuits against state leaders, including one filed by Chief Judge Judith Kaye. The  judicial revolt largely has been led by upstate judges. Cattaraugus County Judge Larry Himelein, a Democrat like Silver, reportedly went so far as to call the speaker "a slug." The speaker refused to respond in kind to the name-calling, saying only: "I don't know who the guy is. I question if that's the way he speaks in public whether he belongs on the bench. But that's his problem, not mine."

The Judge, The Stripper and Bank Fraud

Ex-judge with fraud involving stripper's finances Ex-judge to admit bank fraud
The Tamba Tribune by ELAINE SILVESTRINI - July 27, 2009

Once an influential judge, Thomas E. Stringer is now ready to admit he is a criminal. And he did it all for a stripper.

The former 2nd District Court of Appeal judge has agreed to plead guilty to committing federal bank fraud by helping a stripper hide her financial assets from creditors. His admission is not likely to earn him jail time but probably will require him to forfeit more than $220,000.  Stringer's career began to unravel after stripper Christy Yamanaka, who danced in a famous New York club, told reporters about their 13-year relationship. He and Yamanaka met at the old Malio's restaurant on South Dale Mabry Highway in 1995, when she was working as a dancer at 2001 Odyssey adult club. She said the relationship had been sexual, but the married judge denied that. The financial misdeeds were another matter. The judge has said her money went into bank accounts he opened in his name because she had terrible credit. Yamanaka said the judge helped her hide assets from creditors at a time when she had court judgments against her totaling about $315,000. Stringer retired from the bench in February as the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission was pressing forward with misconduct charges and the FBI was investigating him. The judicial commission later dropped its ethics complaint because Stringer was no longer a judge.  Authorities began looking at Stringer after a series of reports in March 2008 by News Channel 8 and The Tampa Tribune revealed that Stringer allowed Yamanaka to deposit tens of thousands of dollars into his bank accounts. The federal charge against Stringer carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, but he is likely to receive probation as part of his plea deal.

In his plea agreement, Stringer agrees to forfeit more than $222,000 and to disclose all his assets and submit to a lie detector on that issue if prosecutors deem one necessary. Under a federal information filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, Stringer is accused of devising a scheme to obtain money from Wells Fargo Bank "by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses." It also says Stringer purchased a home in Hawaii in his name "even though the funds for the purchase would and did come from another individual." Although the individual is not named in the court document, Yamanaka has said Stringer purchased a house for her in his name. The charge says Stringer lied on a loan application, claiming the down payment was his own money. The judge waived his right to have his case heard by a grand jury. An information is a charging document drawn up by a federal prosecutor. The judicial commission has also accused the judge of failing to disclose valuable gifts that Yamanaka lavished on him, including Rolex watches, a holiday vacation in Las Vegas and trip to New York City, where he stayed in the posh Waldorf Astoria.

In February, Stringer was to answer the commission's questions under oath. Three days before the planned deposition, the judge sent a letter informing the governor of his retirement.  Stringer could not be reached for comment. His personal attorney, Lansing Scriven, released a statement that said Stringer admitted he made a mistake by submitting an incorrect mortgage application, but that "there was no loss in this case" and that the loan was repaid in full. "He is remorseful for his error in judgment, but would also like to emphasize that his conduct does not involve any abuse of his office as a judge. This isolated incident in no way detracts from Judge Stringer's distinguished career as an attorney, judge and public servant," Scriven's statement said. Former federal prosecutor Lee Atkinson said the government built a federal case out of a technical violation of bank fraud statutes. "Once a public figure is indicted by the media, the court of public opinion requires that the government take some sort of action to put it to rest," Atkinson said. Stringer was one of the first black judges on the Hillsborough Circuit Court and, later, on the 2nd District Court of Appeal, where he was one of 14 judges.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Roy I. Reardon, Corrupt Chairman of Corrupt Manhattan Ethics Committee

Feds Summon Court Corruption Members to Washington, D.C.
by Franklin N. Brady - July 27, 2009

NEW YORK- Incontrovertible evidence that federal crimes have been committed in and about New York’s federal and state courts have produced numerous meetings in Washington, D.C. this year.  While the New York criminal conduct that would come under review by the various federal agencies has been discussed for years, the October 2007 filing of Anderson v. The State of New York, et al., 07Civ9599, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York brought increased interest and, subsequently, a long list of credible witnesses. The review by federal employees involving New York’s “Ethics Scandal” quickly caught the eye of a growing number of officials in Washington, D.C. when nine (9) related federal cases, with similar allegations, followed the Anderson insider filings. Formal requests were then made to hold public hearings with a view toward the eventual oversight of the New York State Court System by a federal monitor, and to be followed by the appointment of a federal prosecutor.

Notably, in one meeting held in Washington, D.C., an attorney and Washington, D.C. insider, predicted that, “New York’s about to be rocked.”  That insider quoted the current Chairman of Manhattan’s Departmental Disciplinary Committee, Roy I. Reardon, as saying that New York’s judges belong to one of three categories, “one third are decent, honest and hardworking… another third aren’t very smart…. and one third are corrupt…” While Mr. Reardon once enjoyed a reputation of high integrity, and one who was wronged by his appointment as chairman of the flame-engulfed DDC sinking ship, the Manhattan-based attorney ethics committee. But now, however, Mr. Reardon is believed to be just another member of the Tembeckjian-Friedberg state corruption whitewashing machine.

We recently asked Mr. Reardon a few questions: (1) why he didn't show up in Albany for the New York State Senate Hearing on June 8, 2009 where it was known the Committee he chairs would be the main focus of many serious allegations of widespread corruption; (2) why he delegated 'Special Counsel' Martin Gold to speak on his (Reardon's) behalf, leaving the DDC Chief Counsel, Alan Friedberg, to utter just a few embarrassing sentences of public testimony; and (3) why he doesn't simply resign as Chairman of the Manhattan's Ethics Committee, the Departmental Disciplinary Committee (the "DDC"), since he is either unwilling or unable to stop the systemic corruption, whitewashing and abuse of certain insiders.

We've yet to hear a response from Mr. Reardon. (CLICK HERE TO SEE THE MISSING MR. REARDON'S STAND-IN, Martin R. Gold, at the New York State Senate Hearing)

Another specific request has been made to Washington, D.C.- to have the federal government take over the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, a group known for its widespread corruption in the handling of ethics matters over the state’s judges. It has also been confirmed that the ‘Ethics Insider,’ New York attorney Christine C. Anderson, was requested to attend federal oversight committee meetings, along with numerous New York State judges and dozens of New York State licensed attorneys. “Washington recognizes that the issues raised do not pertain to a single case or group of related cases, but rather to a systemic cause of concern in the State of New York that involves the violation of federal laws,” said one participant, “The Anderson case, and the testimony of others in the legal community, have solidified the documented and countless examples of the violations of federal law requiring appropriate committee review.” The Anderson trial is scheduled to begin in federal court in Manhattan on August 17, 2009.

CLICK HERE TO SEE  RELATED STORY, "Is Roy Reardon Covering for Tembeckjian and Friedberg"

Chief Admin. Judge Pfau Finally Allowed To Do What She Does Best

And what Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau has done best is holding accountable those who abuse the legal system.  Those who have had faith in the OCA "Bronx Bomber," Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau, for what she did in the Bronx, are glad to have her back. Two articles follow:

      Pfau Moves To Bar Insider From Receiving Court Appointments

1.   Service Concerns Prompt Bid to Reopen 100,000 Defaults
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko - July 23, 2009

Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau is seeking to reopen more than 100,000 default judgments obtained throughout the state due to the suspected failure of a Long Island firm to properly serve debt-collection suits on consumers. A civil suit filed in Erie County by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo on the court system's behalf seeks to vacate defaults in all cases where American Legal Process of Lynbrook was used and the only evidence that process was properly served was an affidavit from the company. It seeks to compel the assistance of 35 law firms and two debt collection agencies, each of which used the process server at least 100 times. In April, William Singler, the owner of American Legal Process, was arrested and charged by Mr. Cuomo's office with criminal fraud. Mr. Singler denied the charges and his lawyer said Mr. Singler was not aware of the activities of a few negligent process servers working for the company. Mr. Cuomo said today that the firms named in his suit are among the largest in the debt collection business in New York state. The action does not accuse the firms of any wrongdoing. The suit asks the Supreme Court to require those organizations to notify the Unified Court System of all actions in which they used American Legal Process, of any default judgments obtained in those cases and any monetary payments made to satisfy those judgments. Further, it asks the court to order the law firms and collection agencies to inform the consumers of their right to be heard. And it petitions the court to direct that restitution be made to consumers who made payments on improperly obtained default judgments.

The suit would allow default judgments to be re-filed against debtors who were served by American Legal Process, but only when the respondent law firms can show they used process servers other than those employed by the Lynbrook company and that state rules on the service of summons and complaint have been followed. Mr. Cuomo said in a statement that the fundamental right of New Yorkers to represent themselves in court was violated by the failure of American Legal Process to properly inform them of debt-collection actions. "ALP's scheme undermined the foundation of this system and denied thousands of individuals their day in court," Mr. Cuomo said. The suit was brought in Buffalo because much of the initial investigation of consumer complaints against American Legal Process was done from Mr. Cuomo's western New York regional office, a spokeswoman for the attorney general said. However, process servers for American Legal Process operated in every county in the state and default judgments against residents of all 62 counties may have been improperly obtained as a result of the company's activities, Mr. Cuomo said.


2.   Judge Pfau, Bronx Bomber, Encouraging History

Originally posted Friday, September 14, 2007

It was only 18 months ago that a very unusual encounter emerged in The Bronx. It involved a Bronx political insider, attorney Stanley Schlein, and then-first deputy chief administrative judge, Ann T. Pfau. Justice Pfau, now New York State’s Chief Administrative Judge, won, directing that Mr. Schlein’s name be removed from the list of those eligible to receive judicial appointments. Many are hoping that the highly unusual, and drastic, measure by Judge Pfau last year is a sign of her deep commitment to ridding the New York courts of the systemic and deeply rooted abuses by the machine. More on Judicial Appointments coming soon…… This is a good article by Andrew Wolf, and it may provide an insight into what Judge Pfau can do- think, and decisively act, outside the court's corruptive box. The March 2, 2006 article in The Sunby Andrew Wolf follows, and it can also be seen to the right, marked, “Judge Pfau, Bronx Bomber”

Move To Bar Insider From Receiving Court Appointments Raises Brows
BY ANDREW WOLF - Special to the Sun
March 2, 2006

Bronx courthouse cognoscenti are furiously attempting to determine what is behind an unusual action by the state's Office of Court Administration that bars a well-known and powerful political operative from receiving lucrative court appointments. On Monday, the administrative judge of the Bronx Supreme Court, Barry Salman, was directed by the first deputy chief administrative judge of New York State, Ann Pfau, to remove Stanley Schlein from the list of those eligible to receive judicial appointments. A spokesman for the Office of Court Administration, David Bookstaver, confirmed the action, which was first reported by the Riverdale Review, a Bronx weekly. Such appointments include assignments by judges to act as a referee for real estate sales, as an arbitrator, or as a guardian for an estate. They usually require minimal work, and most often go to a small cadre of politically connected attorneys. The action is highly unusual, and could be the first inkling of legal problems for Mr. Schlein and, by extension, the entire Bronx political establishment. Mr. Schlein serves as the counsel to the Bronx Democratic organization and is widely assumed to have enormous influence within the party and city government. These ties go back more than a quarter-century, as Mr. Schlein has served a parade of political bosses, neatly surviving each coup and scandal to solidify his position. Calls to Mr. Schlein for comment were not returned.

Mr. Bookstaver noted that the law provides for removal from the eligible list for either of two reasons: "unsatisfactory performance" or for "conduct incompatible with the responsibilities of the appointment." It is the latter that has tongues wagging in the courthouse, which sits in the shadow of Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx. Mr. Schlein was one of 17 Bronx political leaders subpoenaed by a grand jury two years ago in an ongoing probe of the finances of non profit groups tied to elected officials. There are also reports that complaints have been lodged regarding Mr. Schlein's handling of one of these appointments. However, such disputes have not in the past resulted in such a radical remedy as the directive issued Monday. Mr. Schlein, who has had hundreds of such appointments spanning many years, is thought unlikely to have egregiously mishandled any of the simple tasks associated with most of these assignments. What concerns Bronx politicos is that removal from the list might signal an impending indictment or plea bargain, an action taken to protect the parties to these actions from harm and delay. Mr. Schlein also has ties to the Bloomberg administration, having been reappointed as the chairman of the Civil Service Commission last year, a part-time post he has held through several administrations. It pays $335.60 a day. In a profile last year, the New York Times disclosed that Mr. Schlein in 2004 was able to earn $68,385 for this post despite the modest per diem rate. Mr. Schlein also serves on the Assembly staff of the Bronx Democratic leader, Jose Rivera, for which he is compensated an additional $35,742. At the same time as Mr. Schlein served as a Bloomberg appointee and lobbied the administration, he was a key behind-the-scenes player in the camp of the mayor's election opponent, Fernando Ferrer. Mr. Schlein has weathered adversity before. In 1986, when the then-Bronx County Democratic leader, Stanley Friedman, was convicted of racketeering charges, Mr. Schlein and other top Friedman officials were widely expected to be purged from the party leadership. In addition to Mr. Friedman, the scandals brought down the borough president, Stanley Simon, and Reps. Mario Biaggi and Robert Garcia. Mr. Schlein survived - and he emerged even more powerful after the 1994 ethnic coup that brought in the current Hispanic Bronx Democratic leadership.

Feds: NY Lawyers Plotted Murders and Witness Obstruction

Lawyer Robert Simels will be on defense as conspiracy trial begins
The New York Daily News by JOHN MARZULLI 
- July 27, 2009

In a book on lawyering, flamboyant attorney Robert Simels offered this tip: "Dress to kill."
"I cannot begin to tell you the number of cases I have tried where the first questions jurors ask me following their verdict concern where I bought my ties, how much they liked my socks, etc.," Simels wrote in "Take the Witness: The Experts Speak on Cross-Examination."  Prosecutors say Simels took his own advice too far in the defense of a Guyanese drug trafficker. On Monday, he and law associate Arienne Irving go on trial in Brooklyn Federal Court, charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice for allegedly plotting to bribe witnesses and murder their family members. Simels, a former prosecutor of police and municipal corruption, has aggressively defended high-profile clients, including Queens crack boss Kenneth (Supreme) McGriff, former Jets football star Mark Gastineau and mob rat Henry Hill, who was immortalized in "GoodFellas." As befits his style, Simels will go on the offensive - accusing the government of selectively prosecuting him because of his aggressive tactics. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Morris Fodeman and Steven D'Alessandro counter that lying to get into a prison to pressure an informant, paying a witness $10,000 to lie and plans to "eliminate" government witnesses through bribery and violence are not acceptable legal practices. Simels, free on $3.5 million bail, has hired heavyweight lawyer Gerald Shargel to defend him. "Bob Simels is a highly skilled defense lawyer who was just doing his job," Shargel said.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tembeckjian's Crimes, Part 5 (Albany Atrocity)

So, while a Federal Judge upholds criminal charges against a former New York State Supreme Court Judge, Thomas Spargo, and while a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, Public Integrity Unit, calls Albany Surrogate Judge Cathryn M. Doyle a "co-conspirator" in the involved criminal allegations, Tembeckjian and Friedberg appear to have done what they do best: cover-up, whitewash, ignore the outrageous crimes of some judges while nit-picking minor issues. One thing's for sure, Tembeckjian and Friedberg have trampled on a most basic right: due process. and do what they do best: cover-up and whitewash.

Judge upholds Spargo charges
Federal jurist refuses to dismiss attempted bribery, extortion case; will two lawyers testify?
The Albany Times Union by BRENDAN J. LYONS - July 26, 2009

ALBANY, NY -- A judge has upheld the federal criminal charges against former state Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Spargo, who was indicted in December on charges of attempted bribery and attempted extortion. U.S. District Court Judge Gary L. Sharpe ruled from the bench in a pre-trial hearing last week that the indictment was sufficient and the case will move forward to trial. The criminal case is built on allegations that Spargo, now in private practice, had in 2003 attempted to extort $10,000 for his legal defense fund from attorneys, including Bruce Blatchly, an Ulster County lawyer who had about 12 cases pending before Spargo. The fund was set up to defray Spargo's $140,000 legal bills from a years-long battle with the state Commission on Judicial Conduct. Spargo, 65, an East Berne attorney, has pleaded not guilty. He is represented by Troy attorney E. Stewart Jones. The state judicial conduct panel concluded three years ago Spargo attempted to extort money from Blatchly. The panel ruled Spargo be removed from the bench and the Court of Appeals later affirmed the decision. During last week's pre-trial hearing attorneys for the government and defense addressed whether two attorneys close to Spargo, Sanford Rosenblum and Catherine Doyle, an Albany Surrogate's Court judge, will testify at Spargo's trial. Rosenblum has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to cooperate with prosecutors. He did not testify before a grand jury. Spargo's attorneys want Rosenblum to receive immunity from prosecution so that he will testify at trial. He has information that could be ''exculpatory'' to Spargo in the case, they said. Doyle obtained an attorney after being confronted by FBI agents during the investigation of Spargo and later testified in front of the grand jury that indicted him. She did not invoke a Fifth Amendment right. Federal prosecutors said Doyle was not a target of their investigation but that they considered her a ''co-conspirator.'' Her role as a witness at a 2003 luncheon where several attorneys were allegedly solicited for Spargo's legal defense fund is at the heart of their interest in Doyle, said M. Kendall Day, a trial attorney with the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C. ''Both she and Mr. Rosenblum tell a version of events that is inconsistent with the other evidence,'' Day told the judge. ''What else is she doing at this lunch where they're coming to talk about raising money ...'' Prosecutors believe Doyle's involvement centered on the allegation an attorney solicited for a donation had a case pending before her, according to court records. Spargo's trial is tentatively set to begin Aug. 24 in U.S. District Court in Albany.

Tembeckjian's Crimes, Part 4 (Cavorting with Felons)

Tembeckjian and Friedberg's kind of New York judge parties with convicted felons, gives weekend jail time to a 'favored' lawyer's client who killed a man while driving drunk and 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.” 

Tembeckjian and Friedberg Hit New Low

In fairness to Alan W. Friedberg, it is noted that the title here might be more appropriately written as "The Crimes of Tembeckjian and Friedberg, Part 4."  We received a copy of this December, 2007 dated Complaint to the Commission on Judicial Conduct (the "CJC") which was 'hand-delivered' to, and stamped 'received' by, the corrupt group of misfits that oversees the ethics of all New York State judges. 

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:


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) 

Speak out 

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) 

Speak out 

Was justice served in this case? Comment in the "New Rochelle" forum of 

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 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 

Journal News Letter to the Editor  --  12/17/06 6:18 AM 

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

(Original publication: March 11, 2006)

 WHITE PLAINS, NYA 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 


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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
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