Timelines — 12/22

Lingerie bandits apprehended

Victoria’s Secret at the Palisades Mall in West Nyack, has been the location of a crime, yet again. In June the store was robbed of $16,000 cash.  In 2009, over $20,000 in lingerie was stolen from the location. This time, three employees of the lingerie store are suspected of stealing approximately $60,000 in merchandise over the past six months. Investigators were called into the store on Monday when a loss prevention officer alerted them to an internal audit that revealed the theft. New City Resident Shavon Pressley, 22, and Emanuel Jumenez, 24, of Garnerville, are being charged with felony grand larceny. They are set to appear at Clarkstown Justice Court on January 11. The third suspect has yet to be apprehended.

 

Nail salon owner bribes IRS with tequila

West Nyack resident, Chinh Tran, 43, will serve no prison time after repeatedly trying to bribe IRS agents to eliminate her tax return audits. According to official records, Tran, owner of a Nanuet nail salon, first met with an IRS agent in March 2010 to discuss an audit being conducted of her 2007 tax returns. In a meeting the next month, Tran greeted the agent with a white envelope in hopes that the agent would expunge the case. The agent refused the envelope, reported Tran’s actions to the Office of Treasury Inspector General for Tax, and the case was soon transferred to a new agent. After being told she owed the government $72,000, she offered the new agent two envelopes containing a total sum of $15,000. In October of 2010, Tran gave the agent an additional $3,000 and a bottle of tequila, again, under the assumption that her liability in this case would cease to exist. By the end of October 2010, Tran was charged with making corrupt payments to an IRS agent. She pleaded guilty back in August. U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas sentenced Tran to two years of supervised release, the first of which will be served under house arrest. The judge looked favorably upon charitable enterprises Tran participates in, opting not to give her jail time.

 

Infant murder case continues

Haverstraw couple, Michael Aviles, 42, and Lissette Capellan, 22, are currently on trial for allegedly beating their 5-month-old daughter, Michelle Aviles, to death. The trial continued last week with witnesses for the defense, following a denied request to dismiss the murder charges. Capellan’s attorney, David Goldstein, believes that his client did not act with Aviles to kill the baby, or fulfill any other criteria needed to prove the charge of second-degree murder. Hollis Girffin, Aviles’s lawyer, says that the prosecution has proven nothing. Michelle died on the afternoon of December 16 at Westchester Medical Center from fractures to both sides of her skull and ribs. Her body was covered in bruises. Prosecutors are trying to prove that it was Aviles who killed the baby while Capellen stood by and allowed it to happen. Both deny hitting the baby, but state that other put the baby to bed that night and woke up around 1:00 a.m. to find the infant unresponsive. They both say they left for the Hospital at 1:30 a.m. but didn’t arrive at Nyack Hospital until 4:22 a.m. Evidence suggests Aviles had been drinking rum the evening before the baby died. Emergency-room nurses have testified that they immediately suspected child abuse when they noticed extensive bruising and injuries across the baby’s body.

Pomona resident found guilty of murder

Sheldene Campell, 40, a former Pomona resident and court reporter for the State Workers Compensation Board in New York City, was convicted of intentionally killing 65-year-old Marie Bucci. She will be sentenced on February 7, and could face a maximum of 25 years in prison. On October 19, 2008 in White Plains, the mother of two, while driving an Acura MDX, ran down 46-year-old 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 or 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. During the closing arguments of the trial, Campbell’s attorney showed the jury several images, which suggest mental illness. The first was of Campbell sitting dazed in a stranger’s driveway, the second was of her threatening to kill a police officer in an interrogation room, and the third most compelling photograph was of Campbell cleaning herself in a jail cell toilet on the day of her arrest. 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, a Jury found her guilty on Monday, after several hours of deliberations that began last Friday.

 

Clarkstown school board votes to hire an attorney and gives no reason why

The Clarkstown School board recently voted to hire investigative attorney Feerick Lynch MacCartney 5-1, with one trustee, Joe Malgeri, abstaining. The South Nyack law firm will charge an hourly rate of approximately $300. While the school refuses to release information on exactly why they are hiring this attorney, speculations are made. Malgeri cited a conflict of interest in is abstention vote. This could be in connection to a recent letter than came to light stating his wife, who is a teacher in the district, was forced out of the school she was teaching in by two school board members who disagreed politically with Joe Malgeri. She now works in a different building. This letter was supposedly written and signed by the school principal and states they she felt pressured to push the teacher out.

 

Village of Haverstraw loses suit, must now pay millions

State Supreme County Judge John La Cave ruled in favor of a local property owner’s suing of the Village of Haverstraw for being underpaid for an 18.9-acre condemned lot. The waterfront property, which was previously owned by AAA Electricians Inc., is part of the Harbors at Haverstraw luxury condominium complex’s 25 acres. In the December 9 decision, Cave found the property to be valued at $6.5 million, well above the $2.6 million the property sold for. The village was ordered to pay the difference to AAA Electricians. The village is expected to file an appeal. This is a bad sign for the village, which is dealing with several other pending lawsuits concerning condemned properties. Michael Rikon, the lawyer representing AAA Electricians, indicated last week that he was also representing two other Haverstraw property owners who believe they received well beneath the value for their land.

 

Shoe throwing is serious business in the Middle East

The fired Iranian factory worker who threw his shoes (but missed) at President Mahmoud Ahmdinejad, has reportedly been arrested. The incident occurred during the president’s visit to the northern city of Sari. Little more is known about the incident as the state-run media there rarely reports on mishaps occurring to leaders within the regime. Throwing shoes at a person, while generally considered rude, is a major cultural insult in the Muslim world. Back in 2008, an Iraqi journalist through his shoes at former President George W. Bush during a conference.

 

Pen found in woman’s stomach, still works after 25 years

After being sent to a GI specialist following weight loss and diarrhea, doctors of a 76-year-old British woman made a startling discovery. While previously diagnosed with severe diverticulitis, a common condition in the elderly where small parts of the colon bulge out, her doctors noticed a foreign object located her stomach during a CAT scan. When doctors inquired about the object, the woman remembered accidentally ingesting a black pen 25 years ago. She was using the pen to poke at her tonsils when she slipped and fell, sending the pen straight into her stomach. X-rays were performed at the time, but no trace of a pen was found. Now, with better technology, the pen is plain to see. Unfortunately, the woman’s current digestive issues have nothing to do with the consumed writing utensil. The most amazing thing about this odd case is that the pen marinated in stomach acid for 25 years, was a little corroded, but once removed was found to still be functional to write with.

 

Cuomo announces holiday charity initiative for flood victims

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced last week that the state would be launching a statewide holiday giving drive to benefit families in flood-affected communities. This is in connection with the Governor’s “NYGives” campaign, a statewide effort to encourage charitable giving and generosity throughout the holiday season. “NYGives” connects businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and those seeking to give with organizations that directly serve New Yorkers most in need. All businesses and individuals looking to donate toys and other supplies to be given out to NY families hit hard by Hurricane Irene are urged to participate. “This giving drive will bring some holiday cheer and household supplies to families and children in areas devastated by the late summer storms,” Governor Cuomo said. “This is what New Yorkers have always done best: stand together and look out for our neighbors. I invite all New Yorkers to support those in need this holiday season.” The Toy Industry Association has already committed to donating 250 toys. This campaign holiday gift-giving will continue through the end of 2011. To help, you can bring unwrapped toys or supplies to Office of General Services (OGS) offices across the state, or mail them to OGS Mail Room, Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza P1, Dock J, Albany, New York 12242. For those wishing to make a financial contribution to affected communities, donation of funds can be directed to charitable organizations that support flood relief efforts, such as the United Way of New York. Contributions may be made by sending a check to the Hurricane Irene Recovery Fund c/o United Way of New York State, 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, New York 12110-2424 or by visiting www.uwnys.org. All contributions to the United Way of New York will receive an acknowledgement. One hundred percent of all donations go directly to flood victims, and no administrative costs are taken out.

 

NBC show films in Nyack

The NBC drama “Smash,” which is about the making of a Broadway Musical, recently filmed in Nyack. This is the largest film/television production to use Nyack as their venue of choice since the village reworked their filming law last January. Nyack significantly lowered the cost to film in public places. The village received $6,000 for the 18-hour-long shoot. The village charged $250 for every hour in addition to parking and other related fees. The production company must also reimburse local merchants that are directly affected by the shoot, paying a minimum of $350 to the six establishments they impacted. Previously, Nyack charged $25,000 a day to film. The rate was set incredibly high to discourage filming in the area. Famous actresses Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston were present on the set. “Smash” will premier at 10 p.m. on the NBC network, the day following the Super Bowl.

 

Superintendents of Hudson Valley hold one-on-one with state officials

Top school officials from around the region are asking state legislators to go easy on the many unfunded mandates they have been laying down on districts. These laws create a burden on everything from transportation, to employee training, pension and heath-care costs. With the recent tax cap, budgets are tight this year, and have little wiggle room for new rules that require costs to enforce. The Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents, who claim that unfunded state mandates make up approximately 20 percent of school budgets, brought 62 superintendents from around the lower Hudson Valley region to present possible solutions to 13 legislators and three representatives of legislators. Some of the laws they are choosing to focus on would yield large savings for some districts. An example of this is the law that states public schools must offer bussing for private schools children up to 15 miles. If that were to drop to five miles, it could save up to $3.5 million year. Superintendents hope this will be an important step in smarter reform that benefits the tax payer as well as the students of New York State.