Etta James dies at 73
Legendary singer, Etta James, died at age 73 last Friday from complications resulting from her battle with leukemia. She had been in poor heath for a few years, having suffered from hepatitis C, as well as being diagnosed with dementia in 2009 and then was hospitalized the next year with a staph infection. Many knew her from her 1961 hit, “At Last,” but she had also gained recent fame for the artist ‘Flo Rida’s’ sampling of “Something’s Got a Hold of Me.” James’ mother gave birth to Etta at age 14, and 15 years later she would release “Wallflower,” or what is more commonly known as “Roll with me Henry.” It all started when she began singing in her church choir at the age of five. Later on, she would sign with the Chicago recording label, Chess Records, which led her to her smash hit, “At Last.” At age 18 she went on tour as the opening act for Little Richard. Unfortunately, fame also brought hardship to Etta James. She developed a decade-long struggle with heroin. In 1973, she was admitted to court ordered rehab, but didn’t kick the habit until her 1988 stay at the famous Betty Ford Clinic. James leaves behind her husband of 42 years, Artis Mills, as well as her two sons, Donto and Sametto James.
Police investigate Nanuet shooting
Clarkstown police are investigating the Nanuet shooting of New City Man, 23-year-old Leon Raad. He was shot in the chest following a fight at the New Latin Grill off Route 59 in Nanuet. Officers were called to the establishment just before 3:00 a.m. last Friday for a reported altercation. Leon Raad was found shot and was taken by Nanuet Ambulance Corps to Nyack Hospital and then transferred to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. Police are still looking for the shooter and urge anyone with information to contact them at 845-639-5800.
Bergen fire bomber apprehended
Anthony Marco Graziano has been arrested in connection with the January 3 bombing of a Paramus synagogue as well as the January 11 firebombing of a rabbi’s home in Rutherford. The 19-year-old’s bail is set at $5 million. The arrest is the result of a heavy investigation but multiple groups including the FBI, the Division of Criminal Justice, the New Jersey State Attorney General’s Office, the Paramus Police Department and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office of Major Crimes. They said a video and still photographs that were released to the public helped identify him at the assailant living at 330 Westervelt Place in Lodi, New Jersey. Police interviewed Graziano as well as his friends and family, while also carrying out a search warrant of the home, which yielded evidence. Anthony M. Graziano will be charged with nine counts of first degree attempted murder, one count of first degree Bias Intimidation and one count of first degree Aggravated Arson for the Rutherford crime. In the Paramus incident, he is charged with first-degree Aggravated Arson, first degree Bias Intimidation and third degree Arson.
Rockland Psych patient charged with murder
52-year-old Curtis Wilson, of Newburgh, has been indicted by a grand jury on felony counts of second-degree murder and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon for the beating of a fellow patient of the Rockland County Psychiatric Center that ended in death. Wilson apparently used a 3-foot-long piece of metal to bludgeon 45-year-old Vincent Knadler in the face. The incident occurred on the grounds of the facility. The severely injured Knadler was later pronounced dead at Nyack Hospital. It is unknown what caused the attack, but both men were outpatients at the psychiatric center, which currently houses 450 patients. Wilson was taken to the Haverstraw police headquarters. He is being held without bail in the Rockland County Jail. The second-degree murder charge could carry a prison term ranging from 15-25 years in state prison.
Monsey welfare fraud couple gets off easy
A 45-year-old Monsey woman, Edith Wagshal, was sentenced in her grand larceny case involving $72,572 in pilfered welfare payments. Edith and her husband Joshua repaid $70,000 in two payments before sentencing. County Court Judge Charles Apotheker went easy on her and gave her and her husband a conditional discharge given her guilty plea. Wagschal will need to pay back the rest of the stolen money as well as $375 in court fees before March 9. The judge did not give Edith probation as she has so many children to care for. The two apparently didn’t list their property on their welfare application, but their lawyer Kenneth Gribetz said the couple would have legally qualified for it anyway. He also said the family now receives Medicaid for themselves as well as their 16 children.
Rockland to receive federal disaster relief aid
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced that New York State would receive over $93 million in disaster relief to help communities that were hit hard by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The funds are for disaster relief, long-term recovery, and restoration of infrastructure, housing, and economic revitalization in counties that received a disaster declaration in 2011. The funds are being pulled from a $400 million in disaster relief blocks from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that was recently approved by congress. New York will receive the largest chunk. New York had 48 counties with disaster declarations last year. Orange County alone will be getting $11.2 million in aid. The grants can be used to match Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster aid, which covers up to 75 percent of the damage. The remaining 25 percent is generally left to the state and local municipalities.
Kodak files for chapter 11 bankruptcy
Iconic 132-year-old Rochester-based photography company, Kodak, filed for bankruptcy last week, sending shockwaves across the Rochester area, as the company employs a large portion of people there. Governor Cuomo released this statement: “The announcement that Kodak is filing for bankruptcy is difficult and disappointing news for the City and people of Rochester. Although Kodak will continue to operate during the bankruptcy process, the State has been in touch with the company and local officials and New York State stands ready to support the Rochester community. This is a time for all of us at all levels of government to come together and work with the private sector to support Rochester’s growth. Rochester is known the world over as a place where businesses can come to thrive and grow and the State will continue to empower the Rochester community in order to build on that remarkable strength.” Kodak has said they hope to use their chapter 11 status to restructure. “The business reorganization is intended to bolster liquidity in the U.S. and abroad, monetize non-strategic intellectual property, fairly resolve legacy liabilities, and enable the Company to focus on its most valuable business lines,” said Kodak last Thursday. For more information regarding the future of Kodak, the company has set up a website at www.kodaktransforms.com.
Haverstraw woman arrested for sex with teen
Police have arrested Viviana Urbino, 44, of Haverstraw for having sexual intercourse four times with a 15-year-old boy in her apartment. Police became suspicious after the boy’s mother filed a complaint. Urbino is being held at Rockland County jail in New City on $10,000 bail. Urbino has two children, 10 and 12, as well as a steady boyfriend. Officers have spoken with the boy and have declined to release details regarding their findings. Urbino will return to court soon to face a grand jury.
New City Little League thief repays some stolen money
Joyce Bidnick, former New City Little League Treasurer, has repaid $100,000 in stolen cash from the nonprofit organization, but her attorney, as well as prosecutors, are trying to reach a decision on how much she owes before she pleads guilty to a felony theft charge of second-degree grand larceny. Bidnick, who was arrested last May, is accused of stealing $800,000 from the Little League over the course of several years. Bidnick wrote checks to herself for cash and then deposited them in personal accounts. To hide the stolen loot, she falsified account balances and reports that were shown to the board. Bidnick and her husband took out a second mortgage on their home at 11 Mark Lane in New City in order to pay back the $100,000. If convicted, the full charge could carry a sentence of up to 15 years. She is the second Little League Treasurer in Rockland to be accused of theft in the past two years. 43-year-old Karen Ramos, treasurer of Stony Point Little League, was charged in July of 2009 for stealing a $156,150. She was sentenced to five years probation, community service and a $5,000 fine.