Saturday, July 28, 2007
Earlier this month, I posted some rumors and rumblings regarding the restaurant/bar scene in West Chester. Now, Brian Fanelli posted on his Uptown Ramblings blog that Rex's, the venerable punk rock bar at Gay and Wayne Streets in the West End is planning to call it quits after years of hosting original music. Rex's owner, Donnie Moore, had come before Borough Council in January seeking to obtain a new liquor license for a proposed theatre/music venue on the 100 block of East Market Street. The proposal to bring in a new license for this venue was rejected by Borough Council and the matter is now pending in the Civil Division of the Court of Common Pleas; it is tentatively scheduled to be heard some time next year.
Now there's talk that Rex's will be replaced with a Thai restaurant and that another liquor license transfer hearing is scheduled in front of Council within the next month or two. From what I had heard, the owners of Kooma, the sushi house at Gay & Darlington Streets are considering bringing in the new license, though it's not immediately known why there's a need to bring in a new license when there's at least one or two inactive liquor licenses available in the borough at this time.
Should make for some more interesting meetings if everything plays out in the way it was described, but of course everything is subject to change...
Deveaux, 21, of Coatesville, is already facing Attempted Criminal Homicide and related charges stemming from the July 12 shooting on East Barnard Street (CP-15-CR-0002903-2007). Last week, another set of charges were lodged against Deveaux, apparently relating to the day of the incident. According to a complaint filed by Ofc. A.J. McCarthy, Deveaux now faces charges of Institutional Vandalism, Criminal Mischief/Damage to Property, three counts of Disorderly Conduct, and one count of Public Drunkeness, reportedly while he was being placed under arrest on the shooting case. From what I've been able to gather thus far, Deveaux allegedly kicked out the rear window of the 01-18 car while be was being transported to WCPD headquarters and was also alleged to be intoxicated that the time of the arrest (15-1-01, CR-0000197-07). He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Tuesday at District Court, but I've got a feeling some sort of agreement will be reached in this case, considering the serious charges Deveaux now faces.
Meanwhile, Deveaux is listed for trial in front of Judge Anthony Sarcione on Monday on Possession of a Controlled Substance charges filed in January by Ofc. Aaron Davis (CP-15-CR-0000248-2007). That matter is still listed, pending Judge Sarcione's ruling on suppression matters raised at an earlier pre-trial hearing. If anything happens to come out of that case, you'll be sure to get all the details...
At around 19:30 or so, WCPD units were dispatched to West Barnard and South New Streets for the report of a harassment complaint. A resident on the 300 block of West Barnard reported to WCPD that a white male subject had harassed him and threatened him with a knife. Upon further investigation by Ofc. Aaron Davis and Ofc. David Hammond, a suspect was subsequently located nearby, positively identified, and placed under arrest. No further details are available right now, but I'm sure that if and when criminal charges are filed in district court, we'll be able to provide further...
Serves me right for speaking too soon...
The case against Molina was presented first, as First Assistant DA Patrick Carmody called Det. Cpl. Scott Whiteside to the stand. Cpl. Whiteside testified that he arrived on the scene of the shooting at 317 South Adams Street at 01:12 on July 9. Upon arrival, Cpl. Whiteside testified that he saw blood on one of the beds, the floor off to the left of the bed, and on the wall of the stairwell leading to the 3rd floor bedroom where Christian Oliveras was found shot twice.
The next day, Cpl. Whiteside and Chester County Det. Edward Nolan went to Atlantic City, N.J., where Molina was arrested earlier that morning. During a two-hour audiotaped statement given while in custody, Molina allegedly said that he had purchased $50.00 worth of cocaine from Oliveras prior to the shooting. Molina allegedly then walked over to the 400 block of East Union Street where he got into a car with four other individuals and described to the four individuals how many people were in the house and if there were any weapons or other drugs in the house.
At that point, the individuals in the car allegedly made plans to rob Oliveras; two of the subjects then went to the house to commit the robbery. When they returned, one of the actors allegedly stated that "(Oliveras) wouldn't give it up, he fought" and that the two subjects "had to shoot him."
Molina was held for trial on Murder of the 1st Degree, Murder of the 2nd Degree, Murder of the 3rd Degree, Robbery, and seven Conspiracy charges (Criminal Homicide, 1st Degree Murder, 2nd Degree Murder, 2 counts Aggravated Assault, Robbery, and Recklessly Endangering Another Person); one count of Conspire to Recklessly Endanger Another Person was dismissed by consent of both the Commonwealth and defense counsel (15-1-04, CR-0000222-07).
In the case against Jackson, a neighbor of the deceased testified that she allegedly saw Jackson near Oliveras' residence on at least twice prior to the shooting. A couple hours before the incident, the witness stated that she saw Jackson and a second black male at the residence; Jackson had allegedly bumped into the witness and her child while they were out for a walk that night. She also noted that she noticed no other subject on the block in the preceeding two hours leading to the shooting. The day before the shooting, the witness allegedly saw Jackson by the side of her house.
In his arguement after the testimony, Jackson's attorney, David Clark, argued that the Commonwealth had presented no evidence, not even circumstantial evidence about what had happened inside Oliveras' apartment at the time of the shooting. "We are not more enlightened about the events inside of 317 South Adams Street" than prior to the hearing, Clark said. He had also argued that the Commonwealth had no evidence that Jackson was even in the car at the time of the murder.
Carmody argued that the Commonwealth's witness had placed Jackson at the scene of the murder and recapped the witness' testimony in asking that all charges be held against Jackson. Ultimately, Jackson was held on Criminal Homicide, First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Third Degree Murder, two counts of Aggravated Assault, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Possession of an Instruement of Crime, and seven Conspiracy charges; as was the case with Molina, a second count of Recklessly Endangering Another Person and a related conspiracy count were dismissed (15-1-04, CR-0000221-07).
The testimony present in court confirms (to an extent) some unofficial chit-chat about Oliveras' alleged drug dealing while out on bail awaiting sentencing on Possession With Intent to Deliver charges filed by both West Chester Police and PSP/Embreeville for sales that allegedly took place last year. How someone accused of those serious type of charges would even be allowed to remain free on bail - or even granted enough bail to be able to continue to sell drugs certainly calls into question the logic of that decision in the first place. Needless to say, that point is moot as Oliveras is now deceased and unable to answer to his crimes...
In any case, next week should prove to be pretty active at Common Pleas Court, as Judges MacElree II, Mahon, Nagle and Sarcione have criminal trial lists scheduled next week (the criminal terms for Judge MacElree and Judge Sarcione are one week; Judge Mahon and Nagle have two-week terms) while Judge Riley has an extensive Misc. Case list next week, including the sentencing of Thomas Barrett, whose trial and conviction on DUI, drug possesssion and unlicensed weapon charges was covered extensively on this blog last month. Barrett is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday, at the same time as 15-1-01's Criminal Day proceedings. I know that means a lot of juggling of time on Tuesday, but somehow I think I'll be able to pull off covering a lot of the big stuff at both District Court and Common Pleas Court...
As for right now, my hands need a break...
Friday, July 27, 2007
At around 02:30, WCPD units were dispatched to the 50 block of South High Street for the report of a fight south of Barnaby's. One actor fled the scene and was later taken into custody after a positive ID on the 50 block of East Barnard Street. The victim reportedly was struck in the head however EMS was recalled from the scene.
Earlier in the night, a male was arrested for Criminal Mischief after his involvement in a fight outside Barnaby's in which the passenger door of one of the employees was damaged.
This capped off an active night in both the borough and township...
At around 22:30, WCPD units responded to the report of a single car vs utility pole accident on the 1200 block of Copeland School Road in East Bradford; the address was later updated further up the block, placing it in West Whiteland. East Bradford Township Fire Marshal Eric Ruggieri was the first to arrive on scene, confirming the initial report from Fire Board. The patient was flown to Reading Hospital trauma center by Sky Flight Care. Assisting on the accident scene were the West Bradford Fire Company, West Whiteland Fire Company, GFAC, and Medic 91 (20070727M0082).
Minutes later, back in the borough, WCPD units responded to assist an officer on a ped stop at Miner and Matlack Streets. In When the dust settled, one actor was taken into custody. Ray Shabazz, 28, of West Chester, was charged with Resisting Arrest and two counts of Disorderly Conduct and is presently being held at CCP on $5,000 bail; his preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday in front of Judge Knapp (15-1-04, CR-0000243-07).
Meanwhile, on the 300 block of West Chestnut Street, Ofc. Christopher Craig and Cpl. Josh Lee apprehended a wanted suspect out of Philadelphia. Jamil Peterson, 24, of Bristol, Bucks County, had an active bench warrant issued by Philadelphia Police. Peterson has an extensive criminal history in Philadelphia and Bucks County:
- On February 26, 2002, Peterson was charged by Philadelphia Police with Recieving Stolen Property and Unathorized Use of a Motor Vehicle following an incident in North Philadelphia; the charges were withdrawn on January 2 (MC-51-CR-0234191-2002).
- On March 8, 2002, Peterson was arrested by Bristol Borough Police with Possession of a Controlled Substance With Intent to Deliver, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Fleeing/Attempting to Elude a Police Officer, four counts of Disorderly Conduct, Resisting Arrest, and three traffic offenses; on July 16, 2002, he was sentenced to time served (4 days) to 6 months in the Bucks County Correctional Facility (CP-09-CR-0002622-2002).
- On July 6, 2002, while out on bail for the Bristol Borough charges, Peterson was arrested in the Lower Northeast by PPD 25th District officers for Possession of a Controlled Substance and was sentenced to an unknown amount of jail time a few days later (MC-51-CR-0707361-2002).
- On December 17, 2002, Peterson was arrested in Bristol Township on charges of Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, Resisting Arrest, and Harassment; he pled guilty on April 21, 2003 to the lesser offenses, with the Aggravated Assault charges Nolle Prossed (withdrawn) and sentenced to 6-to-23 months at BCCF (CP-09-CR-0000857-2003).
- On April 25, 2005, Peterson was arrested by Falls Township police on charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance With Intent to Deliver, Possession of Drug Paraphanalia, False Identification to a Law Enforcement Officer, Unsworn Falsification to Authorities, and Disorderly Conduct; he pled guilty to the lesser offenses, with the PWID charge Nolle Prossed, and was sentenced to time served at BCCF (CP-09-CR-0003169-2005).
- On June 28, 2006, Peterson was arrested by Bristol Township police on charges of Recieving Stolen Property and Unathorized Use of a Motor Vehicle; at trial on September 15, 2006, Peterson was found not guilty of Recieving Stolen Property and convicted of Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle and was sentenced by Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge (and former media hog/District Attorney) Alan M. Rubenstein to 5-to-23 months in prision (CP-09-CR-0004702-2006).
- While awaiting trial on that case, Peterson was charged by Bristol Township police with Possession of a Controlled Substance With Intent to Deliver relating to a November 15, 2005 incident; on November 28, 2006, he pled guilty to that offense and was sentenced to 6-to-23 months at BCCF, was credited for time served on the other offenses and granted parole (CP-09-CR-0006543-2006).
- On April 7, Peterson was arrested by PPD 8th District officers on charges of Burglary, Criminal Trespassing, Theft by Unlawful Taking, Recieving Stolen Property, and Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle. He had been scheduled for a preliminary hearing on April 13, however failed to appear and a warrant was issued for his arrest (MC-51-CR-0015861-2007). This, presumably, was the warrant on which he was picked up on by Cpl. Lee.
- There was also a bench warrant issued for Peterson's arrest by Bucks County as an "absconding parolee" on May 30. It's unclear as to which Bucks County case the warrant was in regards to.
One can't help but wonder if Diane Gibbons, a prosecutor who seems to crave media attention almost as much as her predecessor Rubenstein and as much as Montgomery County DA/egomanic Bruce L. Castor has turned over the reins of her office to Monte Hall (host of the old TV show "Let's Make A Deal"). Bear in mind that Gibbons was the same prosecutor who prosecuted a 10-year-old on felony charges after an alleged burglary in Upper Bucks of the home of one of her subordinate prosecutors.
Now it's one thing for someone to slip through the cracks in Philadelphia, but someone with that many arrests in that short amount of time should've caught Gibbons' attention. Maybe it slipped past her because she's too busy running for Common Pleas Court or maybe her "tough on crime" stance is nothing but a lie. Way to look out for your consituents, Ms. Gibbons. Now, maybe you can get your prosecutors to push for Peterson to take a trip to a state correctional institute instead of continuing to slap this scumbag on the wrist...
With all that out of the way, I will have a recap of the Jackson/Molina preliminary hearings. I just didn't have time to do it last night...
In that hearing, Cpl. Ryan Collins testified that he was on duty on July 9 at around 23:50 when he pulled into the Apartments for Modern Living complex at Matlack and Barnard Street. Upon pulling into the lot near the "B" Building, he observed Rivas, 18, in the area and drop a bag containing an unknown type substance on the ground near some bushes. Upon arrival of a back-up officer, Cpl. Collins placed the defendant under arrest and retrieved the bag, which contained 3 white rocks and smaller "pebbles" containing what was later field-tested positive for cocaine. The search incident to arrest came up with no paraphanalia or other means to ingest the substance in question. Also recovered was $544.00 in cash, which the defendant claimed in an interview subesquent to the arrest was a birthday gift from his mother. Rivas was held for trial in the Court of Common Pleas on Possession of a Controlled Substance With Intent to Deliver, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of Drug Paraphanalia. He was re-commited to Chester County Prison in lieu of 10 percent of $5,000 bail and will be subject to electronic home monitoring should bail be posted.
The only other noteworthy event from this morning's session was the near arrest of one Benjamyn Boggs, 34, of West Chester. Boggs faced charges of Harassment, Reckless Endangerment, Resisting Arrest, and Possession of a Controlled Substance stemming from a June 21 arrest. Boggs, showed up nearly an hour and 15 minutes late and, as such, the bench warrant for his arrest was still being prepared as he arrived. He came periously close to being arrested on the warrant, however he was allowed to remain on his current $5,000 unsecured bail and his case continued to August 24 (15-1-04, CR-0000197-07).
The preliminary hearings on homicide and related charges for Trent Larelle Jackson and Efrain Molina will take place this afternoon at the Chester County Courthouse. The two men are accused of murdering Christian Oliveras at his South Adams Street home nearly three weeks ago. A recap of that hearing will be posted later today.
Michael Joseph Bonner, 26, of West Chester, pled guilty to a single count of Terroristic Threats after a domestic dispute earlier this year. On March 18 at around 01:22, Ofc. Christopher Daly was dispatched to the report of a verbal domestic on the 300 block of South Walnut Street where the female victim reported an altercation with Bonner. She reported that Bonner swatted a stick of deoderant his his hand, causing her to be struck in the right collarbone. He also punched a bedroom door, threw a beer bottle, and caused damage to a window of her apartment and to a jewelry box. He capped off his rampage by threatening to retrieve a gun and "put a '9'" in both her head and her brother's head, then bury both of them in the woods. Bonner was sentenced to 5 years of probation, domestic violence counseling, a drug & alcohol evaluation, and ordered to have no contact with the victim (CP-15-CR-0001605-2007).
William Janda, 20, of Birdsboro, Berks County, pled guilty to Possession of a Controlled Substance (marijuana), Possession of Drug Parahpanalia, and Underage Drinking following an incident on the WCU campus. On February 27 at around 14:14, Sgt. Matthew Paris of WCUPD was called to a dorm room on the 8th floor of Wayne Hall for the report of an odor of burnt marijuana and an odor of "bong water" from that location. Upon arrival, Sgt. Paris noted the door to the apartment was ajar and unsecured. Upon further investigation, a beer bottle was found to be in plain view of the officer. After obtaining a search warrant, officers recovered 30 grams of marijuana in four baggies, a digital scale, a marijuana grinder, a water bong, and packing material. Janda had applied for Drug Court, but was denied in mid-April. He was sentenced to 2 years probation on the drug charges and ordered to pay a $200.00 fine on the Underage Drinking Charge. He was also ordered to perform 150 hours of community service and pay $210 restitution to the PSP Lima Labs (CP-15-CR-0001713-2007).
Phillip Mason, 39, of West Chester, pled guilty to a DUI charge relating to a traffic stop in Downingtown. On January 23 shortly after midnight, Mason was pulled over by Downingtown Police on a traffic stop for a rear tail light that was out. After seeing drug paraphanalia in plain view, the defendant was taken to Brandywine Hospital for a blood test, which came back positive for cocaine. He was sentenced to 72 hours to 6 months in Chester County Prison, ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $105 restitution for the drug scan (CP-15-CR-0001844-2007). Mason also has a case pending with charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance With Intent to Deliver, Possession of Drug Paraphanalia, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Theft by Unlawful Taking, and Recieving Stolen Property relating to three drug deals in Downingtown and Uwchlan in March. He's currently at Chester County Prison in liew of 10 percent of $5,000 bail on that matter (CP-15-CR-0002389-2007).
Thursday, July 26, 2007
By Richard Blassberg
An Actual Depraved Indifference Murder Case
Westchester County Courthouse, White Plains
Acting Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary Presiding
Last Tuesday Defendant Anthony Burton, whose extremely reckless act with a handgun claimed the life of Jessica Santos, 19, a beautiful, vibrant, college student August 27th, last year, appeared at trial before Acting Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary on a three-count indictment, charging him with Murder in the Second Degree, as Depraved Indifference Murder, carrying a sentence of 25 years to life. Jessica, a second-year student at the University of New Haven, had packed and was preparing to return to school when she drove to Yonkers in response to a friend’s desire to say goodbye.
Represented by Attorney Barry Warhit, of White Plains, Burton, who confessed to having fired the shot from the back seat of a moving car, that claimed Ms. Santos’ life, is contending that he was merely firing at the sign above the deli/grocery at the corner of Beech and Poplar Streets in the Nodine Hill section of Yonkers. Ms. Santos was struck in the upper chest by one of six bullets fired from a 25-caliber handgun, causing massive blood loss and death.
The first witness called by Assistant District Attorney Robert Prisco, was Yonkers Police Officer Zielinski, who had been on the job approximately six months when he was called to the scene at around 10pm August 27, 2006. Arriving at the corner of Beech and Poplar, Zielinski testified, “I saw Jessica Santos lying on the ground.” Asked what he did at the scene, Zielinski replied, “I helped tape off the crime
scene, and accompanied Ms. Santos to the hospital.”
ADA Prisco inquired, “What do you recall occurring?”
Officer Zielinski responded, “Emergency medical personnel were attempting to keep her alive.” He went on to describe for the jury how he had ridden with Santos and the emergency workers to St. Joseph’s Medical Center, remaining close to her in the emergency room as doctors and nurses struggled in vain to keep her alive, ultimately declaring her dead at 10:55pm. Following Zielinski’s direct testimony, Defense Attorney Warhit did not seek cross-examination.
The next Prosecution witness was recently retired Yonkers Police Of-ficer Mario Mazzi, who spent the last sixteen years of his twenty-eight year police career working in the Criminal Identification Unit of the Yonkers Police Department processing crime scenes.
ADA Prisco, having quickly established that Mazzi had been called to the crime scene immediately following the incident, asked Mazzi, “What did you do upon arrival?” Mazzi responded, “We did a walkthrough of the crime scene.” He then explained those activities normally associated with a walkthrough for the purpose of collecting evidence and information.
Given the fact that the crime had occurred well after dark, Prisco asked, “While you were walking through, were you assisted by any lighting in your search?” Mazzi explained that, in addition to hand-held flashlights, he and his assistant were aided by a Civil Defense lighting truck used by the Yonkers Police Department under nighttime conditions.
Prisco quickly brought the witness to a discussion of his discovery of five 25-caliber shell casings found strewn on the roadway of Beech Street at varied distances from the intersection of Poplar, and varied distances from the curb. After lengthy discussion regarding the shell casings Prisco introduced the fact that Mazzi had not only produced still photos of the crime scene, but also had videotaped it as well.
Judge Neary, recognizing what he referred to as having been “important, but tedious testimony,” granted the jury a brief break before the Prosecution’s presentation of Mazzi’s videotape. Returning from the break, Prisco took advantage of the opportunity, as the tape played, to get former police officer Mazzi to describe the neighborhood immediately surrounding the crime scene. The witness responded,
as if on cue, “It’s residential; two- and three-family homes.”
This description of the neighborhood extracted by ADA Prisco was a tactical move intended for use later in the trial by the Prosecution, speci-fically in its closing argument, when attempting to persuade the jury that the crime committed by Anthony Burton was, indeed, a Depraved Indifference Murder, and not a Reckless Manslaughter, which would carry a significantly lighter sentence. By establishing the residential character, and population density, the Prosecution was laying the foundation for the notion that the Defendant should clearly have foreseen the high probability that by firing a weapon into the area into which he fired it would likely produce grievous injury and/or even death to somebody, as in fact it did. Essentially, the Prosecution was attempting to demonstrate a level of recklessness consistent with “Depraved Indifference” as to the possible outcome of his own conduct by the Defendant.
Westchester County, Has Offered A $25,000 Reward For Information Leading To the Arrest and Conviction Of those In Political and Governmental Administrations, Under the Leadership of those Depicted, Who Are Engaged in Unlawful Activities.
Persons with verifiable information are urged to call 914-738-1670. Information will be turned over to Federal authorities and informant identities will be kept confidential.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
By Jeffrey Deskovic
The Death Penalty
George Pataki wasted no time getting the Death Penalty passed. In 1995 at his urging, the Legislature, still feeling the heat of the “hot button” topic the death penalty had become - so much so - that it decided the gubernatorial race, again passed the death penalty. And this
time, with Pataki in office, it was signed into law. His initiative proved costly: from 1995 to 2004, New York State spent $200 million dollars and executed nobody, thus wasting financial resources that could have been better spent on social programs and crime prevention.
While he passed the death penalty, he certainly made clear, very quickly, that there would be no good time bill, which was a measure which would have provided incentive and hope for the inmates, that had long been championed by Mario Cuomo. Thanks to Pataki’s death penalty measure, New York has come frighteningly close to executing someone who was innocent, when Rochester Prosecutors attempted to indict
Doug Warney for 1st degree murder, for the purpose of being able to seek the death penalty. Warney was wrongfully convicted of 2nd degree murder based on a false confession and served 10 years, before being cleared by DNA. Fortunately for him, the grand jury only indicted
him for second degree murder.
When Pataki became Governor he built even more prisons, many of them built specifically as part of the special housing units, in which prisoners would be held with little time at all out of their cells, with less access to showers, less recreation, no phone access, often double-
celled with other prisoners who had committed violent acts. As might well be imagined, this regime led to more violence at a time when Pataki remained opposed to spending money on therapeutic and educational programs.
When George Pataki became Governor, he altered the criteria by which inmates could become eligible for work release. Work release had been a program in which prisoners were able to work in the community for up to 14 hours, and then returned to their correctional facility. They
were thus able to support themselves, send money to their families, and pay taxes, rather than being a burden to taxpayers. It was a program midway between prison and home, and for many inmates it paved the way for a better transition. When Pataki got into office, he disallowed all those who had been convicted of a violent crime to participate in the program. That was a great disservice to the community because
the better prepared to reenter society inmates were, the more likely they would experience a successful transition. I remember being in the college program and overhearing one of the college administrators say on the phone, “Not only have the criteria been changed by executive order, but even those who are in the program successfully are being rounded up and returned to prison.
Sex Offender Program
With Pataki in office, Department of Corrections Commissioner Goord felt free to push around the prisoners, knowing full well that the Governor didn’t care about them, and had built his career around taking things from them, and generally making their lives more difficult, just because he could. In 2002 one example of this was the State’s changing of Correction Department directives with respect to the Sex Offender
Program. Previously, if one was imprisoned for a sex offense, he could take the sex offender program without admitting guilt. What changed under Pataki, however, was that the Department was now taking an all-out approach, shoving the program down inmates’ throats. I, along
with other prisoners, was warned that if I did not take the program I would not have much of a chance before the Parole Board, and that I would not be allowed to participate in the family reunion program, which was designed to strengthen and maintain family ties by enabling
prisoners and their families, and/or spouses to spend a few days in a trailer located on prison grounds. Those who were appealing their cases were allowed to be given an exception to having to complete the program before participating, in recognition of ongoing litigation, and the possibility of innocence.
What sense would it make, after all, for someone who was innocent to take the program? Under the new rules, that exception was eliminated. Also eliminated was the former procedure of allowing prisoners to take the program for parole purposes while not admitting guilt. From
Pataki forward, in order to take the program, one would have to admit guilt to the instructors, and then in front of the class, and then again, in writing, giving full details. Failure to do so was automatic grounds for dismissal from the program. These rules totally disregarded the idea that the innocent are sometimes wrongfully convicted of sex offenses, thereby placing prisoners in the position of having to lie to have a chance at freedom, or to maintain their innocence at the cost of possible freedom. It also placed a strain on spousal relationships wherein the couples were used to having the visits for conjugal purposes. I can remember one man’s direct appeal that had not yet been decided, and yet the Department of Corrections had given the fact no consideration, and neither did the court. These rules personally affected me because it prevented me from having a family visit in the trailers, and also prevented me from applying to Honor Block, where a few prisoners had it a little bit easier by being given a little bit more recreation and the option of not having to go to the same rec area as the general population.
That option enabled inmates to get away from being in the same area as a lot of the violence, and granted them more access to showers, refrigerators and stoves. While that might not seem like much to think about now, while I was incarcerated the standard of living was considered much higher for those in Honor Block.
My declining to participate in the program also resulted in my being housed in Elmira Prison for a much longer period of time than I might have despite having stayed out of trouble. It also prevented my transfer to a prison closer to home. Prior to Pataki, one could simply stay out of trouble and earm a transfer closer to facilitate family visits. This affected me because, as time went on, the long trips wore down my mother, along with her health, resulting in my receiving fewer and fewer visits.
Sex Offender Civil Commitment
I lived in fear that the Civil Commitment Bill would be passed. Every year Pataki would call on the state legislators to pass civil confinement laws, that would allow the state to continue to keep people in custody even after their sentence was complete. The way it worked prisoners would be examined by a couple of psychologists and, if certi-fied as a future danger, they could then be kept in a mental hospital, being reviewed every year or two for continued dangerousness. I knew from my studies that one of the factors in determining whether somebody was dangerous was whether they had undergone treatment, and, treatment entailed admitting guilt. I personally felt fear because I realized
that the crime for which I was imprisoned was a sex crime, and that, because I would not admit guilt, I would be labeled as dangerous and likely would be imprisoned in a mental hospital. I knew that sex offenders were easy political targets who legislators could use to create
a climate of panic. I also realized that the public did not fully understand the issues or the pitfalls, a situation deliberately perpetuated by some politicians.
It was not hard to imagine that the law would be passed, and I was very fearful that innocent people, including myself, would get caught up in it. Every year, when Pataki would revisit the subject, I would become frightened, and would remain so for quite a while. Despite its failure to pass in any given year, I knew that Pataki would continue to pursue it, and so the danger never ceased and loomed large over my head.
Under Gov. Spitzer the law has passed, and I now wonder how many innocent people have finished their unjust sentences and yet cannot go home. Instead being committed to mental hospitals, having no means of clearing themselves for lack of legal representation, or definitive DNA evidence. Because DNA evidence is only available in 10 percent of all serious felony cases, and there is nowhere near the legal resources needed by all those pleading innocent, this is no remote possibility. In addition, the idea of being denied freedom based on what
somebody thinks that you will do, or not do, in the future is silly. No one knows what anybody will do in the future, no one has a crystal ball. Additionally, the problem of those who are innocent being caught up in its web remains.
Libby Pataki’s Suggestion
In the first couple of weeks following my release, after spending the initial couple of days with my family in Upstate New York, I returned to Westchester County at the first opportunity, realizing that it was too rural where my familiy now lives, to be able to rebuild my life. My mind was still very much clouded, and I was not adjusted well at all. In addition, since I was released with nothing but the clothing on my back, I had tremendous financial pressure on me. I was painfully aware that the goodwill of other people in allowing me to have meals with them could not last indefinitely, and that I would not be able to continue to stay with other people. At the same time I knew that I was not in any shape mentally to work yet.
I had been informed that the standard fee for an attorney to represent me in a lawsuit against the state would be one third of any monies awarded. That seemed like an awful lot to me, particularly since, before the one third was paid, I would have to pay the court costs, which was estimated at between $75,000 to $125,000. I also knew that the average time before one might actually receive any compensation was
between 2-7 years, and that I needed money as soon as possible. There was a priest at The Assumption Church in Peekskill that I knew
from the days when I had attended the church in my youth and the adjoining school. During a conversation with him I learned that he knew George Pataki personally. Out of desperation, I asked him if he could approach the Governor on my behalf, in an attempt to get the State to compensate me on its own, voluntarily, in light of the wrong that was done to me. I was hoping that my financial predicament might be immediately solved and that I might have money to live off of, and not have to pay lawyers anything. At the same time I believed I would be saving the State some money by accepting less than they would otherwise potentially have to pay.
The priest said that he would try and was somewhat hopeful, but could not promise anything. I, too, was hopeful, and pleased with the compromise I had thought of, if only naively, and viewed as a win/win for everybody. As I reflect now, I was really desperate. The priest made a few attempts on my behalf but told me that Pataki said it would involve too much money. He was not happy, and told me he was going to try again, this time going through Pataki’s wife Libby. However, when he contacted me again, he related that when he explained
everything to her, detailing my general destitute condition, including the fact I had no place to live, Mrs. Pataki replied “Let him go to Catholic Charities.”
When the priest told Mrs. Pataki “This is not a matter of charity,” and that I had been wronged, she remained steadfast against any aid to me. I could tell by the look on his face that he was both frustrated and saddened that he could make no headway on this issue, knowing full well my circumstances.
George Pataki did not make decisions with the best interest of New Yorkers in mind with respect to the prison system, keeping in mind the need for inmate rehabilitation in order to prevent future crimes.
Instead, he set the stage for anger and rage, and the returning of ill-prepared prisoners to society in a condition worse than when they entered prison. On a personal level, he made my already difficult time in prison for a crime I had not committed, even worse than it had to be.
Open letter to Mr. Richard Blassberg, Editor of the Westchester Guardian
CC: NYS Commission on Judicial Conduct; Eliot Spitzer, Governor of the State of New York; Honorable Judith S. Kaye, Chief Judge; Honorable Ann T. Pfau, Chief Administrative Judge; Francis Nicolai, Administrative Judge, 9th Judicial District
Dear Mr. Blassberg,
I’m writing to you in regards to the article “Blue Ribbon Panel Delivers White Papers DA Asked For” from the July 12 issue of The Guardian. In your article you revealed the name of the former Assistant DA Robert Neary among the four main wrongdoers in the conviction
and imprisonment of innocent Jeffrey Deskovic. In your article you correctly stated that at present Mr. Robert Neary acts as an appointed NYS Supreme Court Judge.
I believe that you are aware that Mr. Robert Neary run three times unsuccessfully in elections for Westchester County and NYS
Supreme Court Judge and was recently appointed as a Supreme Court Judge by governor Pataki. What strikes me is the fact that you stopped here. I have a couple of questions to you:
1. Do you feel comfortable that one of the guys who took away 16 years from the life of young Jeffrey Deskovic (and most probably
contributed to the murder of Pat Morrison) is now acting with full immunity under the guise of a Supreme Court Judge?
2. Do you think that having Mr. Neary on the judicial bench does not represent an imminent danger to the life and property of
Westchester County litigants?
3. Do we need to wait until the wrongdoer does a major strike (of the magnitude of wrongful conviction of Mr. Deskovic or the murder of Pat
Morrison) in order to take measures to prevent him from doing wrong.
4. What do you think is the role of journalism and in particular of The Guardian - keeping it cold blooded and report the events post
factum (just like the investigative panel appointed my the Westchester DA) or taking a proactive role in uprooting the public corruption and
helping the society. Curious to know your stance.
My personal believe is that Mr. Neary needs to be suspended immediately from his position. Of course he might challenge the investigative
panel’s report and if he proves that he didn’t do anything wrong he can be reappointed to the Supreme Court. I’m sure you can do better.
Thank you in advance for your response,
Peter Petrov, White Plains
Editor’s Note: Mr. Petrov’s letter is misdirected. Perhaps his inquiry would have been more intelligently directed to any one of, or all of, the five sources to which he CC’d his letter to us, and then CC’d to The Westchester Guardian, if he so desired. Nevertheless, since he directs four specific questions to us, We will attempt to address each one of them.
1. Given the fact that The Guardian publicly revealed former ADA Neary’s up-until-now publicly-concealed role in the sordid Deskovic
affair, we believe the answer to this question is obvious.
2. Despite the awkward way in which he phrases this question, suf-fice to say We have never endorsed Mr. Neary’s judgeship.
3. It is difficult to know who the “we” that Mr. Petrov makes reference to, actually is. However, We, The Westchester Guardian, believe
that We have been fulfilling our obligation under the First Amendment by exposing the truth, and, that is the “measure” that We have taken
and will continue to take on behalf of the People of Westchester.
4. As regards “taking a pro-active role in uprooting the public corruption and helping society,” as Mr. Petrov refers to it, We would wonder
if he is aware of any other weekly Westchester newspaper that has been more pro-active?
Finally, We appreciate Mr. Petrov’s assurances in his statement, “I’m sure you can do better.” In fact, We are striving to do better all the time.
In Our Opinion...
When Larry Met Larry
Last week’s resignation by State Supreme Court Justice Larry Horowitz, while disconcerting and surprising to outside observers, raising eyebrows in polite circles, actually had its origins in a deal struck with the Devil six years ago. In 2001 when Larry Horowitz, an unknown struggling attorney, met with Larry Schwartz, Andy Spano’s Deputy County Executive, and agreed to be the Republican “fall-guy
candidate” to run against Andy, a process was set in motion that would ultimately devastate Horowitz’ professional career.
In exchange for playing the stooge Horowitz was guaranteed an appointment to a County Court Judgeship the following year, which he received, and then used as a springboard to run for State Supreme Court in 2003. The whole deal was very fraudulent, and obvious to most political observers. And, just in case any voter was naïve enough to miss the fix, the last Republican mailer for countywide offices, just
before Election Day 2001, showed the faces of three candidates against the background of the ballot, Jeanine Pirro for District Attorney, Len Spano for County Clerk, and Andy Spano, a Democrat, for County Executive. Larry Horowitz was nowhere to be seen.
Horowitz was uncomfortable in his position as a judge almost from the very beginning, expressing disillusionment and regret for having left private practice. Things apparently were not going too well on the home front either, and perhaps it was inevitable that something would give out under the weight of it all. Larry Horowitz, ostensibly a decent, likable, fellow before his entanglement with Larry Schwartz
and the political dregs of Westchester, having been badly sullied by his involvement with them, hopefully will find the strength and the courage to acknowledge his mistake, and pick up the pieces of his career returning to private practice.
• • •
Schwartz’ Revenge In Greenburg
It would appear that Suzanne Berger has learned nothing from Larry Horowitz’ sad experience with Larry Schwartz. Last week’s “spontaneous gathering” of misguided local Democrats, supposedly in support of Berger’s candidacy for Supervisor of Greenburg, was, in actuality Schwartz’ political payback against Supervisor Paul Feiner who stood up for the residents of Greenburg several months ago, refusing to permit Schwartz to install a so-called “Homeless Drop-In Shelter” behind the headquarters of the County Department of Public Safety, in Hawthorne, in violation of a contract between the Town of Greenburg and the County of Westchester banning such institutions within less than two miles of any other shelter. In Mr. Schwartz’ twisted mentality Supervisor Feiner’s first allegiance should be to him, Schwartz, and not to Feiner’s constituents.
By standing firm, and holding the County to its contractual commitment, Mr. Feiner demonstrated the kind of courage, and dedication to the well-being of the People of Greenburg, very rare in public officials these days, particularly here in Westchester. It is obvious to us that Ms. Berger has now demonstrated that she is all too willing to cozy up to Larry Schwartz and his evil agenda. No doubt, there is a commitment of Democratic County Committee funds, -monies which have been totally, but wrongfully, under Schwartz’ control for many years now- to her campaign.
But, We digress; the subject of monies raised for many years, by Democrats in Westchester, and their misuse to promote election fraud, and to betray the intentions of contributors, will be the subject of another writing, in the near future.
For Ernie Davis It’s Three Strikes, You’re Out!
It appears the People of Mount Vernon have had their fill of Ernie Davis and his broken promises. They are more keenly aware than ever
before that ‘Old Ernie’ merely talks a good game but does nothing; nothing about violence in the streets, violence in the schools; schools that are going backwards despite sky-high taxes. The fact is, conditions are so bad in some neighborhoods that many houses are up for sale, and families are moving back to the Bronx and other communities where parents feel their children will be safer.
Under Davis, Mount Vernon has become a city without hope, without a future for young people. Only a select few, those politically
connected, those closest to Davis, enjoy the limited recreational opportunities - summer camp, summer youth employment. Money
provided by the federal government for housing and recreational opportunities, lots of money, somehow mysteriously disappears. How does a mayor who has been in charge for 12 years, fully three terms in office, look his citizens in the eye and tell them he can’t account for $3 million missing on his watch? How does he ask for a fourth term?
Ernie Davis has been getting away with corruption and indifference to the serious needs of Mount Vernon families for so long that he believes
he is anointed. He’s been controlling the election process, bribing party workers, and ward healers with City jobs and contracts for so many
years that he places little stock in the power of Mount Vernon’s families to control their own city’s destiny. And, what he cannot control by
bribery, he has lately attempted to control by force and intimidation.
Last week the Mayor sent ‘goon squads’ into certain neighborhoods armed with lawn signs, attempting to intimidate homeowners, many of
them middle-aged and elderly, into keeping his campaign sign on their property. Homeowners in one such neighborhood, in the southeast
section of the City, that had been inundated the weekend before last with Davis signs, had taken down just about every one of them by last
That evening Mount Vernon’s favorite son, and strongest supporter, Denzel Washington, was greeted by more than three hundred cheering residents in the parking area of the Centennial Church on Eighth Avenue, at an event billed as “The Mount Vernon Youth Forum” featuring “It’s Time For A Change.”
Washington, who frequently comes home to the city of his youth, has contributed more than $2 million and much of his time and energy
primarily to the city’s Boys and Girls Club, and to other youth-oriented programs over the years, and holds a very special place in the hearts of Mount Vernon families. A er greeting and congratulating numerous young people, some for academic achievement such as Rashad Senior,
who will be going to Harvard University on a full scholarship; others for athletic prowess, such as 12-year-old Deajah Stevenson who will be
competing in the National Junior Olympics in California, Washington spoke to the crowd about the importance of providing opportunities
for their children, and encouraging them to reach high.
He then turned to his friend, County Legislator Clinton Young, declaring, “I love this brother like a brother and I support him one hundred
percent.” Washington then introduced Young as “The Next Mayor.”
Ernie Davis has become a tired act. It’s time he exits the stage and makes way for someone more positive, more motivated, and more
concerned about the families of Mount Vernon than he has been for a very long time. It’s time for a leader who will renew the spirit and
the confidence of Mount Vernon. In brief, it’s time for a change, time for Clinton Young.
Timothy Paul Frederick, 24, appeared in front of Judge Riley on two separate cases from South Coventry Township. On July 26, 2005, Frederick stole a license plate off of a vehicle parked at a residence on the 3100 block of Chestnut Hill Road. Frederick pled guilty to one count of Theft by Unlawful Taking and was sentenced to one year probation to run consecutive to the jail sentence in the next matter (CP-15-CR-0001526-2006)...
On July 12, 2006, Frederick and a juvenile co-defendant broke into a house on the 2000 block of Pottstown Pike, also in South Coventry, causing damage to a glass door at the rear of the residence, where CD's, DVD's, a CD player, speakers, and amplifiers were stolen. In that case, Frederick pled guilty to one count each of Burglary, Conspiracy, and Corruption of Minors and was sentenced to 18-to-36 months in state prison, two years probation and ordered to pay $4,210.31 in restitution (CP-15-CR-0001704-2007)...
Frederick was already on probation in Berks County for a three separate burglaries in Robeson Township that occured on June 13 and 14, 2004. In those cases, Frederick pled guilty to two counts of Burglary, two counts of felony Criminal Mischief/Damage to Property, and one count of Corruption of Minors. He was sentenced to a 5 years probation in those cases and ordered to pay a total of $10,353 in restitution to his victims (CP-06-CR-0003509-2004). It's safe to say that he'll have some explaining to do to the folks in Berks County's Adult Probation office...
Meanwhile, a lawyer from Delaware County came thisclose to getting held in contempt after repeatedly badgering an investigating officer in an indecent assault case. In the matter of Commonwealth vs. Leonard Johnson, defense attorney Andrew Joseph Edelberg's cross-examination of Sgt. Louis Marcelli of the East Whiteland Police Department could charitably be described as nasty. Repeatedly, Edelberg tried to trip up Sgt. Marcelli to the point where Judge Riley repeatedly had to admonish Edelberg. Edelberg also made the mistake of talking over the judge while ruling on an objection, which didn't sit too well with the former President Judge.
Apparently, Edelberg must've thought he was presiding over a high profile homicide case that was being aired on Court TV instead of a misdemeanor case in front of no cameras (per order of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court). The morning session wrapped up with one of many questions posed by Edelberg that Sgt. Marcelli (as did even most lay-observers) had a difficult time understanding the phrasing of (we're paraphrasing here):
Sgt. Marcelli: I don't understand the way you're phrasing that question.
Judge Riley: Neither do I. Let's recess for the lunch break.
Anyway, Johnson, 58, of Yeadon, Delaware County, stands accused of sexually harassing a female co-worker at the Acme corporate offices in the Great Valley section of the township. On April 24, 2006, Johnson allegedly made lewd advances towards the co-worker during a nasty hail storm, where he also is alleged to have simulated a sexual act upon the co-worker. The defense had been wrapping up its case as of yesterday afternoon; the jury is expected to begin deliberations as early as this afternoon (CP-15-CR-0003196-2006)...
Elsewhere in the courthouse, Eric Lee Sadler, 39, of Coatesville, pled guilty to DUI and Simple Assault in two separate cases before Judge Phyllis Strietel.
On July 4, 2006 at around 00:32, Sadler was involved in a single car property damage accident on Harvey Circle in Downingtown. Salder fled the scene and was stopped by Downingtown Police about a block away from the scene. He had admitted to driving the vehicle and while being interviewed by officers was observed to have a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and was unable to stand alone. He was transported to Brandywine Hospital for a blood test, which he refused. He was sentenced to 72 hours to 6 months at CCP, ordered to pay $200 restitution to the property owner, and fined the state-mandated $1,000 fine (CP-15-CR-0000499-2007).
As if that weren't bad enough, Sadler got himself into trouble in West Chester as well...
On March 4, Ofc. John O'Hare recieved a complaint from a femal reporting an assault by Sadler. The victim reported that on Feburary 27 at around 00:30, she was in a vehicle with the defendant on the 400 block of West Washington Street when she told him she wanted to end the relationship with him. At that point, the verbal dispute became a physical one, as Sadler struck the victim with a closed fist in the left eye, resulting in the victim losing consciousness and with a cut above the upper lip and a laceration above the left eye that requried 5 stitches to close. He was sentenced to 3-to-23 months at CCP (with credit for 35 days served awaiting trial) consecutive to the DUI sentence and ordered to pay no more than $500 restitution to the victim. Sadler had been declared a fugitive in May after failing to appear for his preliminary hearing in front of Judge Bruno and was picked up on the warrant on June 18 (CP-15-CR-00002471-2007).
At his sentencing, Sadler complained that he had recieved inadequate medical treatment at the prison after allegedly falling off his bunk and suffering broken ribs this past weekend. Somehow, I can't help but think that if the victim knew what had happened, she'd probably feel that he had it coming...
And finally, where most men and women who turn 21 in West Chester get to spend that night downing an obscene number of alcoholic shots and beverages, Matthew Charles Naylor was able to celebrate his 21st birthday on Monday while sober. Of course, Naylor didn't have much of a choice in the matter as he was a guest at the Chester County Hilton - aka the Chester County Prison...
Naylor landed in prison after an incident on January 3 at around 22:10. On that night, Ofc. carl McIntyre responded to the report of criminal mischief to a vehicle on the 100 block of Dean Street. Upon arrival, Naylor fled the scene through a nearby house and led police on a foot chase before being arrested behind a residence on the 200 block of Price Street by Ofcs. Bill Viebahn and Greg Cugino. Naylor's blood alcohol content was .14. He was sentenced to 3-to-12 months at CCP with credit for time served and was made eligible for parole upon availability of a bed at a rehab facility (CP-15-CR-0001718-2007). Naylor has an extensive criminal record for someone his age...
- On June 16, 2006 at around 16:59, MICU 67 (West End EMS/Phoenixville) responded to a residence on the 900 block of Lexington Drive in Phoenixville for the report of a drug overdose. Naylor was found to be in possession of a hyperdermic needle and a small blue bag which later tested positive for heroin. He was sentenced to 3-to-12 months in CCP on that case (CP-15-CR-0002839-2006).
- On May 31, 2005 at around 21:05, Ofc. Peter Dougherty of the East Whiteland Police was on a traffic stop on the 100 block of Kelmar Avenue where Naylor was a passenger in the car; at the time, Naylor had an active bench warrant for his arrest. The driver of the car gave consent to a search of his car, where Ofc. Dougherty found a clear plastic syringe to the rear of the driver's seat and within reach of Naylor. A further search came up with a small package of heroin found in a pair of jeans belonging to Naylor (CP-15-CR-0003938-2005).
- On December 14, 2004, Det. Jeff Heim of the Willistown Police charged Naylor with burglary after breaking into a residence on the 50 block of Paoli Pike and stealing two guitars and a rabbit (CP-15-CR-0002356-2005). The rabbit was found at the defendant's apartment during a search relating to another burglary in East Whiteland from January 21, 2005, when the defendant and an unnamed juvenile broke into a house on Markel Road. The actors broke into the house via a second story window and took an X-Box, Game Cube, controllers, and other items (CP-15-CR-0001389-2005). Naylor was sentenced to a total of 11 1/2-to-23 months at CCP and a total of 5 years probation for those crimes.
This is on top of the two years spent in the juvenile justice system. Nice, huh?
Yesterday, a few other local cases were adjudicated in the courts. A recap can be expected in a day or two, depending on when the case files are available for review...
- Joseph Malavolta, 21, of West Chester, had a preliminary hearing relating to two separate drug deals last year. An undercover state trooper testified that on May 11, 2006, the defendant allegedly sold 7 grams of cocaine for $300.00 to a confidential informant from his residence on the 400 block of West Gay Street. In a second transaction on July 12, 2006, the defendant allegedly sold 6.9 grams of cocaine, also for $300.00, to the same informant in the same neighborhood. In that transaction, Malavolta allegedly was a passenger in a vehicle driven by an unidentified white male. Malavolta was held for trial on two counts each of Possession of a Controlled Substance With Intent to Deliver, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphanalia, and Criminal Use of a Communication Facility. He remains free on $5,000 bail (15-1-01, CR-0000107-07).
- Elliot Henry Young, who made the foolish mistake of getting into a fight then resisting arrest the day after his preliminary hearing on charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance and related offenses, waived his preliminary hearings in both of his cases. He was released on 10 percent of $5,000 bail. (15-1-01, CR-0000176-07 & CR-0000196-07).
- Raymond Cunningham, 38, of West Chester, waived his preliminary hearing on four counts each of Possession a Controlled Substance With Intent to Deliver, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of Drug Parahpanalia. He remains free on $50,000 bail (15-1-01, CR-0000156-07).
- John Gabriel Gavin, 24, of Media, waived his preliminary hearing on two counts each of Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Simple Assault, and Disorderly Conduct, and one count of Public Drunkeness; two counts of Possession of a Weapon were withdrawn. He remains free on $3,500 bail (15-1-01, CR-0000193-07).
- James McGeehan, who had fled the area and somehow ended up working on a farm upstate, had his arraignment on charges of Fleeing/Eluding Police, Escape, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Underage Drinking, and three traffic offenses. He was commited to CCP on $7,500 bail and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for August 28 (15-1-01, CR-0000172-07).
- And finally, two men who were charged with Recieving Stolen Property and Conspiracy failed to appear for court for a compliance hearing after reaching a summary agreement with the court. Jesus Cano, 31, of Chicago, Illinois (15-1-01, CR-0000114-07) and Roberto Lozono, 21, of West Chester (15-1-01, CR-0000115-07), saw their respective bails revoked and bench warrants issued for their arrests. Cano also faces charges of Aggravated Assault, Assault by Prisoner, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, and two counts of Simple Assault relating to a fight while in WCPD custody awaiting processing on the other charges. His trial in front of Judge Riley is pending (15-1-04, CR-0000131-07; CP-15-CR-0001822-2007).
To recap, of the 29 cases scheduled, 14 were waived to Common Pleas Court, 10 cases were continued (3 of these were summary agreements), 2 cases were withdrawn in accordance with summary agreements, 2 bench warrants were issued, and 1 defendant was held for trial after a hearing.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Hector Luis Febles, 32, of Phoenixville, was sentenced last week following his third DUI offense in the past seven years. On September 3, 2006 at around 00:11, P/O Jeffrey Murray of the WCPD was on patrol on the 500 block of South Franklin Street when he observed several vehicles in the area blowing their horns for no apparent reason. Febles' vehicle then turned around on Franklin; when P/O Murray ordered the car to stop, Febles continued southbound another 50 yards before stopping. He then got out of his car and told the officer, "Look, I parked it, okay? There is nothing wrong." After failing a series of field sobriety tests, Febles was taken to CCH, where he refused to submit a blood sample to determine his BAC.
During his sentencing hearing last week, Febles was considering applying for the Intermediate Punishment Program, which would've resulted in a reduced sentence. There was one slight problem, though. In his IPP application, Febles neglected to report a simple assault arrest from Easttown from October 26, 2005, where the charges were later reduced to summary harassment (15-1-02, CR-0000270-05). As such the Commonwealth opposed his IP application and sought the mandatory 1 year jail term for a 3rd offense/3rd tier DUI conviction.
As for the other two DUI arrests, the first one occured in East Whiteland on October 19, 2001. In that case, Febles was accepted into the ARD program on March 2002, and was sentenced to 1 year probation, a 4 month license suspension, and community service (CP-15-CR-0000061-2002). The second arrest occured in Upper Providence, Montgomery County on September 9, 2003, just after his court supervision in the first case ended. In that case, Febles was sentenced to 1-to-23 months in jail (CP-46-CR-0000559-2004).
In the West Chester case, Judge Anthony Sarcione sentenced Febles to 120 days in jail (30 days were added on for the "oversight" in the application), 90 days of partial home confinement to be served consecutive to the jail term, 2 years concurrent probation, a $2,500 fine, 240 hours of community service, and 6 months of electronic home monitoring. He began serving his sentence today (CP-15-CR-0000061-2007)...
In one of the more bizarre moments in court last week, Fernandito R. Rivera, 38, of New Castle, Delaware, appeared in court for sentencing on a drug possession charge relating to a ped stop by Cpl. Josh Lee. On November 9, 2006, at around 01:45, Cpl. Lee was on patrol on the 200 block of North New Street when he observed a female getting into a vehicle operated by Rivera. The female, Erica Marin, was in the vehicle for about 20 seconds before getting back out. After being placed under arrest, Marin was found to be in possession of a folded piece of paper containing a small, white powdered substance that tested positive for cocaine. Marin was scheduled for a hearing on December 12, but failed to appear before Judge Bruno to answer the charges. As such, a preliminary hearing was held in absentia, where the charges were bound for Common Pleas Court and a warrant issued for her arrest. She was arrested 3 days later and sentenced on December 22 to time served to 23 months in CCP and was paroled immediately. Marin, unfortunately, died recently, though the circumstances surrounding her death weren't made clear in court records; she was 26 years old (CP-15-CR-0005173-2006).
Meanwhile, for his part, Rivera decided to play stupid, which really didn't sit too well with Judge William P. Mahon, who has very little tolerance for people who make excuses. Rivera's narcotics issue had to do with a $10 bill that was rolled up and hidden in his sock. Rivera claimed that he had found the $10 bill and simply put it in his sock, to which Judge Mahon attempted to explain the concept of pants pockets to the defendant.
Rivera still stuck to his story, and it ultimately cost him a 1-to-12 month vacation at the Chester County Prison (CP-15-CR-0005172-2006). Rivera also reportedly has a previous Possession of a Controlled Substance With Intent to Deliver charge, though no other records have been filed in Pennsylvania (this was probably a case from the state of Delaware, though I have no way to confirm that). Judge Mahon was planning to give Rivera a sentence of probation, but Rivera dug his own hole, so now he has to lie in it...
Tomorrow, we celebrate the 21st birthday of a "frequent flier" who has already spent half of his adult life as a guest of the county. Also, a recap of what appears to be a full docket at 15-1-01's Criminal Day...
Sunday, July 22, 2007
In the first 6 months of 2007, a total of 261 Part I offenses were reported to WCPD, compared to 279 through the first 6 months of 2006. (NOTE: All figures are for the period between January and June. The data is based on the number of what is defined as "actual offenses" as opposed to the number of "offenses known" to have been reported to police.)
The number of robberies have remained at similar levels - 18 this year compared to 17 last year. Nine of the robberies were reported by point of firearm, knife, or other weapon, while the remaining 9 were strong arm robberies (with no weapon used, displayed, or implied).
The number of serious or aggravated assaults have increased from 23 last year to 28 this year - 2 of the assaults were by point of firearm, 5 by point of knife, and 6 by point of other weapon. On the flip side, 118 non-aggravated/simple assaults were reported to police, an 11.3 percent increase from the same time frame last year (106).
The number of burglaries have remained stable this year - 42 this year compared to 41 last year. However, there have been 3 more forcible entry burglaries compared to last year (20 to 17). The number of larcenies/thefts decreased 8.4 percent - 152 this year compared to 166 last year. The number of motor vehicle thefts have also decreased this year, a total of 17 in 2007 compared to 24 last year. Interestingly enough, the number of forgery cases have decreased in half (9 this year, 18 last year) with the number of fraud cases increasing nearly 30 percent (22 to 17).
Vandalism complaints have decreased 8.4 percent (239 this year, 261 last year).
On the drug war front, a total of 21 Possession With Intent to Deliver cases have been filed so far this year - 16 for cocaine, 3 for marijuana, and 2 for other controlled substances. The figures are down from 25 such cases last year, of which 19 of those cases were for sales of cocaine. The number of simple drug possession charges, however, have skyrocketed nearly a quarter-fold. Last year 44 arrests for simple possession were made (17 each for cocaine and marijuana, 10 for other substances or paraphanalia); this year, 58 arrests have been made this year (18 for cocaine, 20 for marijuana, 2 for other synthetic substances, and 18 for other substances or paraphanalia). The pushers seem to be either fleeing West Chester or doing a better job of lurking in the shadows while the users seem to be popping up out of the woodwork.
In the first six months of this year, the number of DUI arrests have decrased 6.9 percent; this year, 95 arrests have been made, compared to 102 arrests last year. Later in this post, I'll have more comments on this particular topic.
As if it were a shock to very few people, the number of liquor law, public drunkeness, and disorderly conduct cases have significantly increased, with these three categories seeing the largest increases in arrests (other than drug offenses and fraud). The number of liquor law arrests (mostly underage drinking) has increased 27.5 percent, from 109 to 139. Disorderly conduct arrests have also increased from 109 last year to 124 this year - a 13.8 percent increase.
But the mother of all increases appears to be the number of public drunkeness cases that were made over the first six months of this year. In 2006, 159 citations were issued for public drunkeness; this year, 277 such arrests have been made. That's a whopping 74.2 percent rise in the number of people being charged with this offense. This is partially responsible for the 7.8 percent increase overall crime in the Borough of West Chester and East Bradford Township (1,425 last year compared to 1,536 this year). The difference in the number of PD arrests (118) in fact exceed the increase in the overall count (111).
In short, West Chester isn't as violent as other places which shall remain nameless (Coatesville, Norristown, Darby, Pottstown - oh, did I say that out loud?), however the big issue really does seem to be the alarming increase in the number of people being charged with public drunkeness.
Having said that, Barnaby's is the only new restaurant opening in the borough within the past six months that presently has a full liquor license, with Landmark Americana at Gay and Darlington Streets slated to open within the next few months. The buzz that I'm hearing from some in the know is that Barnaby's is taking a lot of business away from the other bars in the center of town, the most notable ones being 15 North and Kildare's. (Disclosure: I happen to spend my Monday nights at Barnaby's, so in a way, the last statement may not exactly be too impartial; that said, I have heard from others about this, so I feel comfortable mentioning it.)
There have even been rumors about what the future will hold for 15 North and another infamous restaurant, Coyote Crossing. A few months ago, there had been a few rumors that Coyote - which was where a large fight broke out in January, leading to 6 arrests - may also be considering scaling back or even closing, though nothing seems to have come out of it thus far.
Meanwhile, on the DUI front, there seems to be no explaination as to why the number of arrests have decreased from this year to last year. It's possible that people are becoming a lot more conscious about DUI and the serious penalties that were passed by the legislature in 2003. That said, the number of DUI cases filed in District Courts as of Sunday by WCPD now total 116 (this figure includes DUI arrests made in July whereas the PSP data does not). 48 of these cases have been filed at 15-1-01, 61 cases at 15-1-04, and 7 cases in 15-2-06 (for East Bradford). P/O Jeff Gallo has made 12 DUI arrests so far, with P/O Rey Melendez making 11 of his own. (SIDE NOTE: P/O Michael Heidelbaugh, presently recovering from an injury and expected to be back on duty later this year, had made 5 DUI arrests of his own within the first month before going on injury leave. Maybe that's why the DUI counts have gone down.)
Or, perhaps they're just getting caught in other townships - such as West Goshen, where DUI arrests have jumped from 44 in the first half of last year to 62 in the first half of this year - that's 40.9 percent for those scoring at home. Sgt. William Camlin and P/O Mike Cotter have each arrested 11 drunk drivers this year. Birmingham Township police have made 28 arrests during the first half of this year, 4 more than the same time period last year. Even WCU Police have jumped on the DUI enforcement bandwagon, with 8 arrests made (3 cases filed in 15-1-01, 2 cases each in 15-1-04 and 15-2-06, and 1 case in 15-2-03).
Still, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the year plays out as far as crime figures go. We'll revisit the crime stats in about three months and see where everything is...
- Brandon Nathaniel Melton, 24, of Exton, pled guilty to Possession of a Controlled Substance following an incident on March 14 at around 22:15, when P/O Christopher Craig arrested him on an active bench warrant. In a search incident to an arrest, P/O Craig found a green ziploc baggie which was sent to the Lima labs and tested positive for cocaine. He was sentenced to 1 year probation and 50 hours community service (CP-15-CR-0001818-2007) by Judge Howard F. Riley, Jr. This is not Melton's first run-in with the law:
- In 2002, he pled guilty to Burglary charges in West Goshen where he was sentenced to 3-to-12 months at CCP, 1 year probation, and ordered to pay $800 in restitution to his victm; in December 2001, West Goshen detectives investigated burglaries in the 200 block of Roberts Lane and the 1000 block of Laurel Drive. In the Roberts Lane incident, Melton gained access to the property through a second story window; upon his arrest at the Giant in West Whiteland, Melton directed detectives to a second location on Laurel Drive, where he forced open the rear basement door, causing $500.00 damage and stole approximately $80.00 in change that was located in a jar (CP-15-CR-0000169-2002);
- Around that same time, Melton pled guilty to a separate Attempted Burglary charge from West Whiteland where he was sentenced to 3 years probation after he attempted to break into a residence on the 1200 block of Country Drive by damaging the rear door of the residence, causing$37.00 in damages (CP-15-CR-0001303-2002);
- In 2004, Melton pled guilty to DUI and driving with a suspended license; on August 9, 2003 at around 00:50, a Westtown-East Goshen police officer spotted Melton driving erratically along Shady Grove Road in Westtown, then turning on a red light onto PA 926 where a sign prohibiting same was posted. Melton was stopped on the 1200 block of Cheyney Road in Thornbury where he failed field sobriety tests and ultimately came back with a .20 BAC. He was sentenced to 4-to-23 months in CCP on those charges, which violated his probation on the other cases (CP-15-CR-0004298-2003).
- Pedro O. Aguilar, 30, of Malvern, pled guilty to DUI and Simple Assault following a domestic dispute on the 100 block of South Adams Street. On February 12 at around 00:36, P/O Robert Kuehn responded to a report of a fight at the location. Upon arrival, the defendant was ordered out of his car. The victim said that Aguilar grabbed the couple's daughter, and later punched her in the nose, resulting in a bloody nose. The defendant then got into his vehicle and drove off before he was stopped a short distance away. Aguillar was sentenced to 72 hours to 6 months at Chester County Prison, ordered to serve 1 year probation, and lost his license to drive for a year(CP-15-CR-0001298-2007).
- Meanwhile, in Courtroom 11, Ashlee Boddy, 23, formerly of Oxford, pled guilty to robbery and assault charges following an incident at Bicentennial Garage last year. On October 15, 2005 at around 02:00, Boddy approached her victim in a vehicle, got out of her car, and struck the victim in the face. The force of the impact caused the victim to lose her purse, which was taken by Boddy. The purse was valued at $347.68 and contained the victim's ID, cellphone, check book and debit card. The debit card was used two days later at two locations in West Chester and two locations in Newark, Delaware. Boddy was declared a fugitive on July 20, 2006 after failing to answer the charges in District Court and was arrested on March 8 and arraigned by Judge Knapp, who set bail at 10 percent of $7,500. The case was remanded to Judge Bruno's court for a preliminary hearing a few weeks later, where the defendant waived same. Boddy was sentenced by Judge Phyllis Streitel to 2 years probation, a $1,000 fine plus court costs, order to pay restitution, and perform 48 hours of community service (CP-15-CR-0003145-2006).
- Hector Otero, 20, of West Chester, pled guilty to Simple Assault and Reckless Endangerment after a domestic at the Apartments for Modern Living complex at Matlack and Barnard Streets on February 1 at around 18:22. P/O Rey Melendez responded to the report of a fight at 201 S Matlack when the victim accused Otero of punching her multiple times during a fight. Otero grabbed the victim's face and pushed her with force, head-butter her, attempted to stab her in the neck with a screwdriver, and punched her in the ribs. The victim attempted to flee and was grabbed and kicked several times. Otero also pushed the couple's 7-month-old daughter in the face while the mother was being restrained by Otero. Judge Thomas Gavin sentenced Otero to 11 1/2-to-23 months at CCP (with credit for time served from the date of the arrest) and 2 years probation to be served consecutive to the prison term (CP-15-CR-0000657-2007).
More cases will be posted tomorrow as I make another visit to the Clerk of Courts to gather a fill in a few more gaps to present a full view of what's being dealt with here, including a 20-year-old destined to become the latest in a list of "frequent fliers" into and out of the system...
Saturday, July 21, 2007
In the matter of Commonwealth vs. Antoine Green, 19, of Coatesville, (15-1-04, CR-0000148-07), Ofc. Christopher Craig was on patrol on the 100 block of East Gay Street on May 5 at around 23:32 when he observed the defendant acting in a suspicous manner. When officers approached Green, he made movements away from the officer, making the first left turn away from the scene. Green was spotted at the rear of 123 E Gay at the time of the stop. During a search, the defendant was found to be in possession of a Tylenol bottle which contained suspected crack cocaine. The substance was tested at the Lima lab and came back positive for .61 grams of cocaine. Green was held on all counts, including Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphanalia. Green's bail was set at $5,000 unsecured, however, he was in custody at the time of his hearing on a probation violation for a Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver charges from 2005 (CP-15-CR-0004195-2005).
In the matter of Commonwealth vs. Sean Christopher McComb, 22, of Pottstown, Montgomery County (15-1-04, CR-0000096-07), Ofc. Craig was on duty to the rear of Baxter's on February 9 at around 01:55 when he observed the defendant and another individual in possession of an open container of alcohol. Upon inverviewing the defendant, McComb gave Ofc. Craig an ID card showing a name of James McComb and a citation for possession of an open container was issued under that name. About a month later, a check of PennDOT records indicated that the defendant gave a false name and charges were later filed against the defendant. McComb had failed to appear for court on April 27, though it now appears there may have been a good reason why...
According to docket sheets obtained via the AOPC web site, McComb has a lengthy criminal history in Montgomery County and in Philadelphia, including 2 DUI convictions in Limerick (CP-46-CR-0007320-2006) and Pottstown (CP-46-CR-0001251-2006), three retail theft convictions in New Hanover (CP-46-CR-0001699-2007), Limerick (CP-46-CR-2925-2006) and Pottstown (CP-46-CR-0000898-2006), separate burglary (CP-46-CR-0005589-2006) and resisting arrest (CP-46-CR-0005588-2006) charges from Pottstown, and a robbery conviction from Philadelphia (CP-51-CR-0301961-2005).
McComb was recommited to prison on $7,500 bail, though that's probably moot considering there is at least one detainer against him from Montgomery County (which, presumably will be pit stop en route to a state prison).
In other matters before the court:
Jeffrey Robert Connolly, 25, of West Chester was scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on charges of Simple Assault, Harassment, Public Drunkeness, and Possession of a BB Gun. Connolly, however, failed to appear, and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.
Then there's the case of Commonwealth vs. Jeffrey Christopher Stair, 28, of West Chester. Stair, you may recall, was arrested last weekend on Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphanalia, and Public Drunkeness and was free on $5,000 bail. Stair, suffice to say, had a rather interseting way to prepare for court. Namely, by getting himself arrested again for Public Drunkeness early Friday morning. Two weeks ago, Stair was arrested by Sgt. William Camlin in West Goshen on an outstanding bench warrant from Delaware County (15-1-05, AR-0000102-07). The Delaware County case involved a guilty plea to DUI and Possession of a Controlled Substance relating to a 2006 traffic stop in Chadds Ford (32-2-49, CR-0000453-05; CP-23-CR-0000694-06).
If time permits tomorrow (and I see no reason why it shouldn't), a Common Pleas recap will be posted.
Friday, July 20, 2007
The victim testified that at around 19:20 on July 5, she was talking to some friends near the Locust Court Apartments when the defendant arrived and allegedly fired one shot at her, with the bullet striking her in the lower lip, lodging in her mouth and resulting in the loss of a tooth. After being shot, the victim ran into a neighbor's house, closing the door on Deveaux, then ran up the steps to the second floor. She then jumped into the bushes and ran to another neighbor's house. She also noted that two additional shot were fired, however she was unsure where the shots came from.
She testified that Deveaux said nothing to her before he allegedly opened fire. She had known the defendant for many years prior to his moving to Coatesville.
The victim also testified that she had noticed the defendant acting unusually different and that she suspected he was under the influence of some type of controlled substance. Under cross examination, the victim noted that her boyfriend, Trent Larelle Jackson, was one of the two suspects in the murder of Christian Oliveras two weeks ago, and that Deveaux was a friend of Oliveras.
A male witness then testified, though rather reluctantly. Under direct examination from First Assistant DA Patrick Carmody, the witness repeated three times "I don't want to be here. I don't want to testify." This led to a brief recess in which the ADA spoke to the witness outside the presence of the court. After a few minutes, the witness re-took the stand and testified to what he saw prior to the shooting.
The witness alleged that moments before the shooting, Deveaux approached him and several friends and asked if the witness had anything to do with Oliveras' murder. Moments later, the defendant allegedly pulled a gun out on the witness, causing him to flee into the backyard of a neighbor's house. It was the first time that the defendant and the witness, who testified that he and Deveaux were friends at one point, had discussed the murder.
At the start of the hearing, Carmody added two counts of Possession of an Instrument of Crime to the complaint; there was also a stipulation for the purposes of the preliminary hearing that the defendant was not licensed to carry a firearm in Pennsylvania, based on a letter provided by the Sheriff's Office.
Public defender Kathleen Boyer argued that most of the charges relating to actions agains the witness should be dismissed since she had claimed that the male who testified was not in iminent danger of suffering serious bodily harm, hence the Commonwealth hadn't proven it's prima facie case against Deveaux on those charges, but didn't provide arguement on the charges relating to the shooting of the female victim.
Carmody did concede that at least one of the charges, Recklessly Endangering Another Person was weak, at best. On the other charges, however Carmody argued that the totality of the circumstances justified all charges being bound to Common Pleas Court for Deveaux's actions against both witnesses.
In the end, Judge Knapp bound most of the 22 counts filed against Deveaux for trial at Common Pleas Court. Deveaux was held on one count each of Criminal Homicide, Attempted Criminal Homicide, and Recklessly Endangering Another Person (the second count on each offense was dismissed), six counts of Aggravated Assault (two counts each under three separate sub-sections), three counts of Simple Assault (initially two each covering two different sub-sections, a fourth count was dismissed), two counts each of Terroristic Treats and Possession of an Instrument of Crime, and one count each of Carrying a Firearm Without a License and Possessing an Offensive Weapon. Deveaux remains committed to Chester County Prison in lieu of $250,000 cash bail.
A recap from a very busy, but relatively quick Criminal Day at 15-1-01 will follow either later tonight or early tomorrow, depending on this author's alertness (between work and the hectic court activity, I managed to get a whopping two hours sleep today). Two weeks worth of Common Pleas activity will follow this weekend (that was just a matter of finding time to review court records and setting aside enough time to post the report)...
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Feiner Rejects Cavallo
I would like to thank The Westchester Guardian for the stories about the Independence Party. As a result of your reporting, I decided, earlier this year, not to seek the endorsement of the Independence Party.
The Independence Party sounds independent and non-partisan to those who are not familiar with the party, but the party (under the leadership of Giulio Cavallo) doesn’t share my beliefs. The party leadership has sold cross-endorsements for dollars and/or jobs. I want to be associated with political parties that share my philosophy about government. I’m running in the Democratic primary on September 18th with Kevin Morgan, Sonja Brown (council candidates) and Judith Beville (clerk). We are also starting to circulate petitions to form a new political party: Greenburgh United Party. Over 1500 voters will sign petitions in the coming month creating the party. This party will be formed by people who want good government, not by the political bosses.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor
More Concern About Cavallo
I have been following your editorials on Giulio Cavallo with great interest. What has not been reported is the disposition of the investigation by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer into Mr. Cavallo’s no-show, six-figure job as a doctor in the New York State Department of Health Hospital Unit in New Rochelle. As you know, he never had a doctor’s certificate from the State to attach ‘doctor’ to his name. He quietly resigned from this position. Was he made to pay restitution of the salary he collected for years for this no-show job?
While he was still “working” for the Hospital Unit he bragged how he got a job in the same unit for Marianne Oros who, in effect, became his boss after she was fired from Westchester Medical Center. Mrs. Oros is the wife of George Oros, who is in the County Legislature. He is also on the board of one of the hospitals that Mrs. Oros oversaw, clearly a conflict of interest. When a patient who had a complaint against the hospital made the state aware of this situation, Mrs. Oros was asked to resign, which she refused to do. She was then given another position.
This is just another example of Giulio Cavallo’s influence in this state. It seems corruption and incompetence are rewarded instead of being rooted out. If you have any information on the outcome from Mr. Spitzer’s office please print it or let your readers know how to obtain this
A Concerned State Worker
Aghast At Condition of Mt. Vernon High School
To the Editor:
Last month, friends and I attended a commendable performance of Dreamgirls at Mt. Vernon High School. As it was our first visit to that institution, we were shocked at the shabby condition of the unmown grass, the profusion of weeds and bare patches of earth--as
well as the generally unwelcoming appearance of the grounds fronting the building’s entrance. In addition, the Venetian blinds covering the
large windows of the edifice, were bent, broken off, or in some cases, missing slats entirely.
Once inside the school, we viewed the equally shabby courtyard (presumably for students’ use), where weeds proliferated between the blocks of concrete on the walkway and a sense of miasma hovered over what might once have been a thriving area for student interaction.
Considering that the new, completely non-utilitarian musical fountain at the traffic circle on Gramatan Ave. in Mt. Vernon reportedly cost taxpayers a cool $4 million, it is unconscionable that money was not allocated to the high school for landscaping and maintenance of the grounds as well as for purchasing new Venetian blinds. The fact is that the patent neglect of the premises sends a terrible message
not only to visitors but to attending students. It says, in effect, “We don’t really care about you. You don’t deserve to study in an attractive place.” Hasn’t it occurred to Mayor Davis or other officials who are involved with the Mt. Vernon schools, that if we treat our young people
as though they were second-class citizens, so will they consider themselves?
Aware of the crime statistics in the schools as well as in the streets, residents with children approaching school-age often move out of Mt. Vernon. Yet Mayor Davis, ostensibly oblivious to it all, seems to believe that erecting a visible monument (the fountain) to his tenure will
again catapult him into yet another term in office. But parents who cannot afford to leave the city want something better for their children and are now clamoring for a change in government. Judging from the condition of Mt. Vernon High School, that change can’t come fast enough.
Elaine Booth Selig, Mt. Vernon
Concerned About New Rochelle Development
A report at the City Council meeting from the New Rochelle Environmental Committee suggested many ideas for a greener New Rochelle. The Committee favored open space and more environmentally-friendly buildings and mentioned that the new construction in downtown
does not fit these criteria. Among the items mentioned was flooding caused by too many impervious surfaces. Certainly residents can remember the recent flooding in many areas of the city.
There are other environmental problems in New Rochelle. On North Avenue, between Huguenot and Main Streets, there have been numerous instances of the Con Edison cables overheating. Yet in the FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement) for the proposed Simone Project
for Church/Division Streets, Con Edison on page 3b-11 claimed that they can supply the gas and electricity. Similarly, in the environmental report for Forest City Ratner’s proposal for the Brooklyn Atlantic yards, Con Edison said they could supply the electricity and gas. But when Con Edison appeared recently at a state Assembly hearing about a large rate increase, they claimed they were “strapped” and massive
projects like these Atlantic yards are to blame. Therefore, all residents are forced to subsidize these projects.
These are just two examples of how our City’s taxpayers and residents will be impacted by the high rise Simone project. The City Council is likely to vote on this proposal this month. Any one who is concerned about the environmental impacts of this large and dense project on the Queen City of the Sound should let Council members know immediately.
Peggy Godfrey, New Rochelle
Games People Play
We found last Wednesday’s gathering at County Democratic Headquarters in White Plains amusing and somewhat ironic. Several prominent local Democrats, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had come together to welcome Republican Assemblyman Michael Spano, little
brother of former State Senator Nick Spano - once the Number Three Republican in the State - into the fold.
Yes, after ten years in the Assembly as a Republican; after leaving that body for personal reasons, and apparently failing to cut it in the private sector, and, after running against an under-funded Democrat, and reclaiming his old seat, as a Republican just last year, Mike Spano decides he’s really a Democrat, and has been for some time. Some might say, “Wow!” We simply ask, “What else is new?”
Naturally, the powers that be, Larry Schwartz, Inc. brought together as many local Democratic legislators and politicians as could be rounded up on short notice for the photo-op. Of course, some of those Democrats standing behind Mike had stood behind Big Brother Nicky and Daddy Leonard Spano numerous times, and they didn’t have to switch parties for their support. No fooling.
Andy Spano, no relation mind you, and Larry Schwartz’ puppet, Reggie LaFayette, did their best to re-elect Republican County Clerk Len Spano in 2001, and Big Nick, every two years, succeeding right through 2004. Last year the presence of federal monitors and attorneys raised the stakes to where nobody was willing to step over the line to put Nick back into the Senate. In that regard We would wonder what was going through Andrea Stewart-Cousins’ mind as she stood smiling amongst the assemblage.
Truth be told, Andy Spano didn’t appear especially delighted to be welcoming Mike Spano, no relative, into the Democratic Party. The bigger question, however, involves how Larry feels about the move. Does he believe it will strengthen his hand in Albany? Does he think Mike will be willing to accept his oppressive presence?
We have a few questions for Mike:
• Would you be changing parties if Nicky were still sitting in the State Senate?
• Is it really George W. Bush you’re trying to distance yourself from, or is it Big Brother Nicky?
• And, having won your seat as a Republican, how do you face your constituents next year, for re-election, and tell them that you really stand for the philosophy, and the politics they thought you opposed when they elected you last year?