Timelines — 11/23

Haverstraw taking heat for sexual harassment case

A Haverstraw town employee is suing a co-worker, Stephen Loblanco, as well as the town, stating that the co-worker made sexual remarks toward her and the town did nothing to intervene. She also has filed a criminal complaint against Loblanco. The “suer” stated that Loblanco has made sexual remarks to her and made the workplace uncomfortable. According to the woman, he also grabbed at her body and threatened her if she didn’t perform oral sex on him. Though she notified her supervisors, town did nothing to stop it. Haverstraw Town Attorney William Stein said the allegations were not true and the case will likely be dismissed. She is seeking finical compensation for damages.
Prescription drug bust in Rockland
Fifteen people were arrested on Friday by the FBI and Rockland drug investigators on charges of selling thousands of prescription pills across the country. Included in the 15 arrested, was New City Psychiatrist, Dr. Aristide Esser, who was already banned from prescribing opiates. Esser was banned from prescribing opiates in New York and had his medical license suspended for four years in 2002. Another was a Ramapo pharmacist, Srinath Thoompally. The investigation, which began in January, uncovered the operation using wiretaps. Apparently, there were several conspiracies to distribute prescription and illicit drugs using Thoompally’s pharmacy, forged prescriptions from stolen prescription pads, street sails and a network of distributors. To avoid being caught, Thoompally is accused of having a co-conspirator submit random prescriptions for non-narcotic drugs. Charges were filed for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances. This carries up to 20 years in prison. Thoompally will face additional drug distribution charges. He was released on a $1 million bond but ended up paying $300,000 in cash and putting up a property. 81-year-old Esser, who is originally from Indonesia, is accused of with providing a cooperating federal witness with prescriptions for secobarbital under others people’s names, while also providing medication to friends. He is expected to be charged with two counts of distribution and possession with the intent to distribute. Rockland police and prosecutors find this bust particularly significant because in recent years, the drugs typically abused by young people; marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, are still big, but they have seen a sharp increase in prescription drug abuse such as oxycodone. In this month alone, Police have arrested at least 12 people on prescription drug abuse charges. In late October, a different raid led to the arrest of 22 people on similar charges.
NYC terror plot stopped
New York City police arrested a man suspected of plotting to bomb post offices and police patrol cars in New York City as well as U.S. troops returning home. Authorities have called the man an “Al-Qaeda sympathizer.” Jose Pimentel, 27, originally from the Dominican Republic but was residing in Manhattan, apparently was unhappy with U.S. occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. Pimentel had posted bomb-making directions online and had called the U.S. and its allies, “legitimate targets.” He was arrested on Saturday, according to police, just before he was about to hatch his plan. He was putting the finishing touches on a bomb. Mayor Bloomberg indicated that Pimentel was a “lone wolf” and it does not appear he is connected to any organization. He is charged with first-degree criminal possession of a weapon as a crime of terrorism and soliciting support for a terrorist attack. He is being held without bail. Since 9/11 at least 13 potential terror attacks have been thwarted. This is likely because about 1,000 members of the NYPD’s 35,000 officers are working on counter terrorism operations everyday. They also send officers to other counties and cities to see how they protect themselves against terror attacks. Also, though city funding and grants, the NYPD has the most technologically advanced tools to counter terrorism, such as portable radiation detectors and hundreds of cameras that track suspicious activity. Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday, “The arrest tonight of an individual suspected of planning to commit a terrorist act in New York demonstrates once again the effectiveness and bravery of our men and women in law enforcement. As families across our state gather this holiday season, we will continue to remain in close contact with our federal and local law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers.”
Driver beware- new Thanksgiving ticketing initiative underway
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced last week that during the Thanksgiving holiday. the New York State police would be enforcing a new campaign aimed at drivers who text while driving. “Operation Hang Up” will target motorists who use their cell phone and other electronic devices. They are looking to send a clear message to drivers that they should be focused on the road with their hands on the wheel while operating a motor vehicle. ¬†According to Cuomo, the reason for this campaign is “Using a handheld device while driving is illegal and puts the lives and safety of New Yorkers on the road at risk.” The operation is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who have a Distracted Driving Enforcement Grant. Law enforcement will focus its patrol recourses on the issue rather than traditional efforts this season. Since traffic volume is generally very heavy during this holiday, the operation will be conducted statewide. Similar high enforcement periods will happen throughout the year. “During this enhanced enforcement period, troopers will ticket those drivers who ignore this law and use a mobile device while driving. We will continue our efforts to reduce distracted driving to ensure New York’s highways and citizens are safe,” says Joseph D’Amico, Superintendent of New York State Police. This follows actions taken in July, when Cuomo signed a new law, strengthening enforcement texting while driving laws. The law makes the use of a handheld electronic device while driving a primary traffic offense, meaning police can stop a motorist solely for engaging in that activity. Also, the penalty for using an electronic handheld device while driving is now three points, where as before it was only two.
Drunk driving duo face charges
Last Friday, a husband and wife from Suffern were involved in a two-car accident involving three people in Pearl River. Eugene Kurilenko, 46 and Deborah Kurlenko, 43, had both been driving drunk on the night in question. They switched seats in their 2007 Dodge Caravan after the accident, in hopes of hiding the fact that is was Eugene was driving when the accident occurred. This was likely because this was not his first run in with the law when it comes to driving under the influence. In 2007, he got a DWI in New Jersey. The people in the other car, including a seven-months pregnant woman, were all taken to Nyack Hospital. The driver of the other car was a Haverstraw man who reported seeing the couple switch seats. Orangetown police responded to a call around 12:15 a.m. only to find Eugene stumbling outside of his car, clearly intoxicated. His wife was behind the wheel with the car running. When they asked Eugene to submit to a field sobriety test, he refused. Both husband and wife were arrested. Eugene was charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, failure to yield, disobeying a stops sign and refusal to submit to a chemical breath test for alcohol. Because of his prior DWI, he is looking at a felony DWI charge. His wife did submit to a breath test and she was charged with misdemeanor DWI. Eugene is out on $160 bail, and his wife was released without bail. Both are due to appear in Orangetown Court on Dec. 14.
Spring Valley teens accused of Stony Point burglary
Three teenagers from Spring Valley are accused of forcing their way into an apartment off Washburns Lane in Stony Point and robbing the residents at knife-point. Michael Kenkinson, 18 and Denzele Teach 17, were charged with felonies second-degree robbery and second-degree burglary. The third teen was also charged, but since he is 17 and eligible for youthful offender status, his identity was not released. They were arraigned in Stony Point Town Court, where bail for each was set at $25,000. All three are from Spring Valley. Police are not releasing all details yet, as they are still investigating the incident. They have however stated that on November 11, around 1:40 p.m., three males broke into the apartments and stole cash from a man residing there. At least one other person was home during this, but no one was injured. They have reason to believe that the robbery was not a random occurrence. The suspects knew at least one of the victims. The boys were arrested last Wednesday night after a Stony Point police car stopped a car that matched the description of the one used in the robbery. It is not known yet who was driving the car.
Tappan Zee stunt man appears in front of a judge
Maicharl Davitt, 54, the man who dangled under the Tappan Zee Bridge a couple weeks ago has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges concerning the traffic jam he caused, and the police that had to go into the Hudson River to save him. Davitt seemed in good spirits last Thursday when he appeared before Greenburgh Town Justice Doris Friedman. He pleased no guilty to “some” of the charges. Friedman would not allow him to plead without a lawyer and Richard Vercollone was assigned to represent him on December 9, when Davitt is due to return. Davitt, a West Haverstraw resident, had been a county worker for over 27 years when he was suspended in 2008. He started becoming a regular at the county Legislature meetings, claiming that there was major corruption in the government. It was then that Davitt decided to dangle himself from the Tappan Zee Bridge for almost four hours wearing a bejeweled tie, beads, a purple shit, checkered pants and a tweed blazer. He claims he was protesting Rockland’s employment system. The official counts against him are resisting arrest, third-degree criminal trespass, second-degree obstruction and second-degree reckless endangerment, all misdemeanors. He was also charged with the violation of disorderly conduct and two additional traffic infractions. He is currently free on $500 bail. Last Tuesday he appeared at a county Legislature meeting and was met with applause.
Murder trial set to begin for former Pomona resident
Sheldene Campell, 40, a former Pomona resident and court reporter for the State Workers Compensation Board in New York City, was charged with intentionally killing 65-year-old Marie Bucci. On October 19, 2008 in White Plains, the mother of two, while driving an Acura MDX ran down 46-year-ld Roseanne Shiavone as well as Bucci. She was since indicted on second-degree murder and attempted murder, first-degree attempted assault and leaving the scene, all felonies; and the misdemeanors of third-degree assault and leaving the scene. Since October 29, 2008, Campbell has been held without bail in Westchester County Jail in Valhalla. In 2009 the murder and assault charges were dropped as Westchester County Judge Susan Cacace said there was not enough proof that she had the intention of killing and hurting the two women. In 2010, the appeals court overturned the Judge’s ruling and re-added the charges. Questions were then raised about whether she was mentally fit to stand trial, however two psychologists who examined her spoke at her competency hearing last year stating that she was in fact fit to stand trial. This is despite her schizophrenia that causes her to hear voices. Campbell also faces separate charges in New Jersey. Three weeks prior to the White Plains incident, she was accused of driving over a lawn, narrowly missing a jogger, abandoning her 10-year-old son as well as attacking a police officer. Despite the delays, jury selection for the murder trial commenced on Monday.
Ray sentenced to 2 years in prison
Self Help Expert James Arthur Ray has been convicted of negligent homicide in the three deaths. He will spend two years in prison for his role in the sweat lodge ceremony that took place in the Arizona desert in 2009. While Ray and his attorneys were hoping for probation, a judge stated that the evidence shows negligence. The lodge in question was made of willow trees and branches covered in tarpaulins and blankets and was heated to a dangerously high temperature, causing participants to suffer heatstroke and dehydration. The prosecution stated that Ray showed indifference to those who were suffering and did nothing to monitor the temperature. The deaths include Kirby Brown, 38 of Westtown, New York, Lizbeth Marie Neuman, 49 of Minnesota, and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee. At least 15 other participants in this ceremony suffered illnesses as a result.
Cuomo sends letter to Super Committee about negative impact of possible rulings
Governor Cuomo sent a letter to the New York Congressional Delegation in regards to the impact of the “Super Committee” on the state. The deadline for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is today, Wednesday, November 23. The actions of the committee will have a direct effect on the economy of New York. Cuomo said in his letter: “I write to express my strong concern regarding the possible impacts of either a stalemate, which would trigger across the board cuts to federal programs, or any agreement that targets programs that New Yorkers and state government depend on.” With increasing fiscal issues in Congress like debt, the choices the New York must make to benefit the nation as well as the people of the state will not be easy ones. Since Cuomo took office almost a year ago, he has closed the $10 billion budget gap without raising taxes or borrowing. With the economy being where it is, there are concerns now of how to get the state back on track for growth and sustainment. Cuomo worries that “the actions of the Committee could deprive New York of billions of dollars in promised federal aid and deal a major blow to the economy and fiscal stability of this state.” Certain proposals like dramatic cuts to Medicaid reimbursements, transporting funding, agricultural assistance and other programs could drastically increase the budget gap in the future. There are also proposals to eliminate tax deductions on state and local taxes and home mortgage interest payments. While the committee should be developing deficit reductions totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years, they should not take a backwards step in out economy. “Cuts to critical programs should be made in a manner that does not undo the progress we have made at the state level or further erode the chances of a strong economic recovery,” said Cuomo.